This is my Japanese inspired, oil free sesame salad dressing sweeten primarily with applesauce. It also makes a wonderful dipping sauce.  This creamy sauce was inspired by the many bowls of avocado salad that I have been ordering from a small Japanese eatery. I am always ordering the same two items off their menu, chirashi don (sashimi laid over a bowl of sushi rice) and avocado salad. I was frequenting the eatery too often.  It reached a point where I decided I should just learn how to make the sauce. After all, not only would it be more economical, it would also save me the hassle of finding a car park lot in an area noted for limited parking space. The bonus to now being able to make this sauce is the versatility of it. Use it:
(1) as a salad dressing (but of course)
(2) as a dip for a range of vegetables
(3) drizzled over cold tofu
(4) poured over little parcels of tightly bundled, chilled blanched spinach
(5) as an additional dipping sauce for Japanese hot pot/steamboat(shabu-shabu)
(6) on cold udon noodles

Scroll down to ‘Tips’ for visuals of some of the above dishes.

Sesame And Applesauce Salad Dressing And Dip

Prep: 6 minutes 
Cook: ~ 2 -3 minutes to toast sesame seeds
Inactive:
Level: Easy
Makes: ~1 and 1/2 cups of dressing; ~1 and 1/4 cups of dip
Oven Temperature:
Can recipe be doubled? Yes
Make ahead? Can be made 5 days ahead

Ingredients

4 and 1/2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
6 Tablespoons apple sauce*
4 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar **
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons mirin
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons Kikoman soy sauce***
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons white miso
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 Tablespoon sugar
If you are not intending to use the sauce as a dip, add:
Up to 1/4 cup cold water + up to 1/4 teaspoon of salt
* Instead of buying a bottle/can of applesauce, you could buy a small bottle from the baby food aisle.
** Applesauce comes in varying viscosity. Adjust more/less water to get it into a thin salad dressing consistency. Adjust salt in proportion to the amount of water you add.
*** Use Japanese soy sauce as they taste different from Chinese or Korean soy sauce.

Method

1. Toast the sesame seeds in a hot frying pan. Stir the seeds to avoid burning. Once it starts to smell nice and are a light golden brown, turn off the heat and remove the pan from the burner. Transfer to a plate. If you leave it in the pan, it might start to burn in the residual heat. Cool.
2. In a grinder, grind the cooled sesame seeds until fine. If your grinder is also a food processor, making this sauce will be quite effortless. Fortunately, my machine has dual functions and it takes me less than 2 minutes to complete making the sauce.
3. Now add, apple cider vinegar, mirin, soy sauce, apple sauce, miso, sugar and dry mustard powder. Turn on the machine and grind until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. It should taste stronger than what you want as it will taste less intense once you use the sauce over your food of choice. Sauces, miso and vinegars varies in intensity of flavour and viscosity. If your sauce is too thin (mostly likely because the applesauce is thinner than the one I used), add 1/2 Tablespoon more toasted (and ground) sesame seeds. Likewise, if too sour, add more sugar or applesauce, etcetera.
4. The sauce at this stage can be used as a dip. You should not need to add any of the cold water. For all other uses, I would thin it out with a little cold water, but not more than 1/4 cup of cold water. If you add the full 1/4 cup of cold water, add that additional 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  Adjust salt according to the amount of cold water you end up adding.
5. Transfer into an airtight bottle and refrigerate. It taste better chilled.

Tips

I made the dishes below so that you have a visual of how else this very versatile sauce could be used.

Over cold blocks of tofu
Over cold, pressed bundles of spinach
As a sauce over cold Japanese udon
It is a good alternative to dairy based dips or another salsa. On the platter are turnips (jicama), endives, etcetera.

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