When I was a little girl, my parents took me to Benihana for my seventh birthday. This was a joyous occasion. I had never been to Benihana before this time and I was in for an incredible treat. I couldn't believe my eyes upon entering the building. All of the waitresses were dressed in beautiful colorful kimonos. We were seated at a table, which surrounded a large metal hot surface. I was told immediately not to touch it because it was extremely hot. Then, we were seated next to other people we didn't know. I really liked this. I was a pretty social little girl. I loved meeting new people. So, seating us with another family was a pleasure to me. I immediately introduced myself and let everyone know we were celebrating my birthday.
Soon, the waitress came over with my coke. This was not any old coke, however. This coke was served to me in a large white cup shaped like a Buddha. Before I got over the extreme joy I experienced when I discovered I could take the Buddha home with me, the chef arrived in his tall green hat and white clothes. He was about to cook right there in front of us. This was so exciting. The following half hour or so, I witnessed one amazing thing after another. The chef presented a flaming onion volcano, which doubled as a steam train and he created a large fire that warmed my whole body for an instant. We all tried to catch shrimp in our mouths. I might have caught one. I can't remember but I remember I used to be pretty good at throwing M&Ms into the air and catching them. I wouldn't be surprised if I caught this shrimp too. I was fascinated by every second of my first meal at Benihana.
Later in life, I learned that this way of eating is called teppanyaki. Teppanyaki is a style of Japanese cuisine where the chef cooks the food on an iron griddle right in front of the guests. Teppan means iron plate and yaki means grilled or broiled. Thus, grilled food on an iron plate. This type of cooking, teppanyaki style, originated in Japan at a restaurant called Misono in 1945. Misono is actually a chain of restaurants in Japan. This style of cooking became popular amongst tourists in Japan. Eventually, restaurant chains like Benihana in the United States. Thank goodness because they are such good fun and the food is amazing. Now, there are many different teppanyaki restaurants all over the country. I have been to the teppanyaki restaurant in Mankato. It is called Tokyo Sushi and Hibachi and is located at 1829 Adams Street in Mankato. It is really good and deserves a visit if you happen to be in Mankato shopping for the holidays. It is located just across the street from the Riverside Mall. If you didn't gather from the name, they serve delicious sushi too.
To make my first teppanyaki meal even more magical, the food was so tasty. I am pretty sure I ordered the chicken back then. The meal started with a salad and miso soup. The salad was topped with a dressing that was so delicious and would become my favorite part of any tappanyaki meal. To this day, I just love the ginger dressing used at these restaurants.
Last night, we were in California visiting my mom and Doug and also taking Daphne to audition to be on a television show. She didn't make it on to the show, but she did get two call backs, which is pretty successful in my book. My mom and Doug took us to another one of these restaurants called Cho Cho San. I was reminded of how much I love this type of food. You usually get a choice of steak, fish, seafood or chicken. I choose the vegetable platter this time. The vegetables taste so delicious cooked this way. I think the amount of butter used might have something to do with this. The chef cooked onions, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, and more. It really was a ton of vegetables. You always get a choice of steamed rice or fried rice to go with whatever main course you choose for your meal. Again, the meal began with a salad topped with that delicious ginger dressing.
For many years, I have loved the flavor of the ginger dressing, which is used in the salad at most teppanyaki restaurants. It is sweet and tangy while being a little thick and light at the same time. Last night, I savored a salad topped with this style of dressing. I am happy to say both Daphne and Jack love this dressing too. Jack ate his entire salad. As we ate our salads, I remembered I have a recipe for this dressing. A while ago, I asked a local chef at a teppanyaki restaurant here in Las Vegas for it. He gave me the recipe. As we ate our salads, I realized that I really wanted to share this recipe with you because it is so unbelievably good and a great change of pace from the ordinary ranch dressing. Don't get me wrong, I love ranch dressing as much as the next guy. However, this ginger dressing might be my all time favorite. Give it a try and see what you think. There are a lot of ingredients but once you blend this all together, you won't believe how tasty it is.
Makes: 1 cups
Time: 15 minutes
cup minced onion
cup peanut oil (or olive oil)
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
2 tablespoons celery, minced
2 tablespoons ketchup
4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons lemon juice
teaspoon garlic, minced
Place all of these ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend for thirty seconds. Chill and serve over salad.