April 21, 2012

Rice Wine Vinaigrette

While on my trip to New Orleans, I tried to eat as many new, local foods as I could. Such delights included a crawfish boil, a po boy, alligator, and an unexpected delight- a fantastic rice wine vinaigrette. At one restaurant, the house salad served before the entree turned out to be the best thing of the whole meal. This vinaigrette is why.

My fancy (but so useful) emulsifier.
The server was kind enough to tell me what was in it- not suspecting that I wrote the ingredients down as soon as she walked away so I could try to recreate it at home. I've made 5 versions of this vinaigrette and I think I've finally nailed it. So far, I've eaten it on a salad, on some carrots, and over cold pasta just because I can. I may never get another store bought dressing again.

Rice Wine Vinaigrette
Makes 1 cup dressing

What You'll Need:
1/3 cup Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar
2/3 cup good olive oil (do not use "light" olive oil)
4 cloves garlic, minced up small
3 tsp Italian herb mix
2 tsp dry mustard (or 2 Tbs prepared mustard)
1 tsp honey

The Process:
Whisk together all ingredients except the olive oil until very well combined. Slowly (slowly!) whisk in the olive oil. If it separates out immediately, add a little more mustard. It will separate after a bit, but shouldn't instantly. Let sit at least one hour (preferably closer to 3) before serving to let the flavors combine.You'll need to whisk it all back together again just before serving.

Be sure to get seasoned rice wine vinegar. That just means it's had some sugar and brown sugar added. The sweetness from that is essential to what makes this dressing so spectacular. But, whatever you do, don't omit the mustard or honey, they are the emulsification agents that help the oil and vinegar get along.

Now, when the server told me what was in it, she didn't mention mustard or honey, but something is needed to emulsify them. I used mustard because it works very well, and I chose the honey because there was a little something missing. They may have used egg yolk to emulsify it, but I prefer not to use eggs in homemade dressings.

The best part is that it will improve with "age". After it has sat for a couple days, it will really be slamming because the flavors have had a chance to blend really well. So, so good.

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