Asian Foods Ep.2

Asian Foods : Japanese Deep Roasted Sesame Salad Dressing

by Thomas M. Tillman

The Dressing That Made Me Eat Salad

I am not a green salad person. I do not like green salad. But put this dressing on it and I'll eat an entire bowl anytime. This recipe is a classic salad dressing that's super popular in Japan, and for good reason. You can put it on a piece of cardboard and it'll be delicious. In Japan, often times it's served simply on shredded cabbage. A pile of cabbage. Yep, that's how good it is.

A Kewpie Copycat Recipe

This is my attempt to recreate the popular Kewpie brand "Deep Roasted Sesame Dressing." My Japanese friend recommended it, and we got hooked after the first try, and I wanted to recreate it as it's not easy to find here in Vancouver. My version is very close to the real thing taste-wise, the only noticeable difference is mine is a bit less viscous since I don't add the xanthan gum that's in the original. I also add black pepper which I prefer.
1. The original Kewpie dressing we are trying to recreate. 2. Kewpie mayonnaise - essential in getting the right flavour. 3. My preferred mirin in that it doesn't contain added sugar or syrup as many others do.

More Than a Salad Dressing

In Japan this dressing is also used as a dipping sauce for their hot pot (shabu shabu). As I said, it's good on anything! If you want to try making a hot pot, check out my classic hot pot recipe and simply use this dressing instead of (or in addition to) the Thai style dipping sauce.

Important Notes for Success

  • Actually DEEP toast your sesame seeds. Get them darker than you think you should to get that roasted smoky flavour. Get them even darker than what I showed in the video. Admittedly I was nervous to push them further because I didn't want to burn them on camera!
  • Use Kewpie mayo. You might be tempted to use regular Western style mayo, but trust me, they do not taste the same. If you want the awesome flavours I'm raving about, you need the Kewpie mayo. Also be aware that there are "knock-off" brands of Japanese mayo that comes in VERY similar containers, but they are NOT the Kewpie brand and they don't taste the same. Look for the kewpie doll on the bottle!
  • Use neutral oil. For salads you may think you want to use healthy oils like olive oil or coconut oil. Don't! Those have flavours that will mess with the awesomeness of this dressing. If health is a concern avocado oil is what you want to go with - healthy and neutral and it's what I use. Otherwise canola or another vegetable oil works too.
  • If using mirin, look for one with no sugar or syrup. Even though it is optional, if you're going to buy mirin, know that most brands out there are loaded with sugar or corn syrup, but traditionally made mirin should be made by fermenting rice. I like Eden Brand, which is the only one I've seen at a "normal" grocery store that doesn't contain added sweeteners.


  • 3 tablespoons white sesame seeds(see note)
  • 3 tablespoons Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise (see note)
  • 3 tablespoons neutral flavoured oil(see note)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons mirin (optional, see note)
  • 2-3 teaspoons honey or brown sugaror sub a sweetener of your choice
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • Freshly ground black pepperto taste


  • (I use avocado oil cuz it's healthy and neutral. If you really want to you can probably use olive oil, but not the extra virgin one cuz that has a strong flavour. You can always try though!)
  • Even if you buy your sesame seeds pre-roasted, you can roast them again to refresh them and get them a little bit darker.
  • Look for the Kewpie brand for the most "authentic" flavour.
  • When choosing Mirin look for a brand that has no corn syrup or sugar added (if possible), such as Eden brand.


  • In a dry saute pan, add the sesame seeds and toast them over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Once they turn golden, turn the heat down to medium and continue toasted until they have a deep, dark brown colour. Once the desired colour is reached, immediately pour onto a plate to cool and stop the toasting.
  • Grind the sesame seeds in a mortar and pestle using a swirling motion until most of the seeds are broken up into a fine meal but you can still see some whole seeds.  Note: You can also grind sesame seeds in a coffee grinder, but be careful not to over-grind. I would do little pulses.
  • Add all remaining ingredients to the mortar (serves as a handy mixing bowl!) and whisk to mix well and make sure the honey is completely dissolved.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning to your taste. You can also increase the mayo if you want something thicker and richer. If it's the first time you're making it I recommend tasting it with some actual salad leaves rather than tasting it straight up to get a more accurate idea of where you're at.
  • Store in the fridge and mix well before using. This should keep for at least a few weeks.