When I was 11 my mom gave the choice of having a regular birthday party with many people or I could have a grown up dinner and sleepover for a select few friends. Since I was about to turn 12 and that’s basically an adult, intimate dinner was the obvious choice. The fanciest restaurant I frequented back then was a hibachi restaurant that had an indoor water fountain, complete with a pond full of live fish. I told you it was fancy.
I feel bad for the poor souls who had to share the communal table with this giggly group of girls.
I remember the menu being several pages long but the main event of course was the steak, chicken or fish that was sliced and seared on the flat top grill. But while the Hibachi heated up you were delighted with towers of onions set on fire and the special guest usually got a shrimp tossed in their mouth. The ultimate embarrassment was being incapable of to catch the flying shellfish. Again, this is about as fancy as it gets.
While this show was going on bowls of soup, usually miso, got hurriedly passed around the table and slurped up. Then a salad of iceberg lettuce tested your chopstick skills. The bright orange ginger carrot dressing was globbed on top of the lettuce and made it next to impossible to get the iceberg from the little bowl to your hungry mouth. Oh well, you needed to save room for the flying shrimp anyway.
I kept going to that place and many other restaurants just like it long after my birthday. Everything cooked on the flat top was still the focus but my taste for miso soup and that ginger dressing grew. Since watery iceberg and miso soup are hardly a complete meal I never though to make it home. After I spied a fried asparagus with miso dressing recipe in the Food52 Genius Recipes cookbook I wanted the flavors from that Hibachi meal but less work. Frying asparagus doesn’t sound too difficult but it’s December and any time I fry something my baby kitchen smells like oil for days, gross. So roasted carrots stand in for springy asparagus and the savory slick of miso dressing gets gussied up with ginger. This still isn’t a meal, but it comes together quick and the ginger miso dressing got me to eat a half pound of carrots in one sitting.
- 1 lb. of carrots
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- big pinch of black pepper
- 2 1/2 tablespoons of white miso
- 1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, about 1 large clove
- 1 teaspoon of soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of honey
- 2 scallions (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Peel and chop the carrots into long thick planks. You want the pieces to be somewhat similar in size so they cook evenly
- Toss carrots in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper and spread on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper
- Roast carrots for 20-25 minutes, flipping them halfway through the cooking process so each side can caramelize
- You want the ginger and garlic really fine for this dressing so it mixes in with the other ingredients. I run the garlic and ginger over a microplane to really paste the two but you can just finely mince it
- Whisk together the miso, soy sauce, sesame oil, apple cider vinegar, honey and 2 tablespoons of honey and then add the garlic and ginger
- Chop two scallions, I like to use the white and green parts
- Toast the sesame seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat. It will only take a few minutes and you'll know when they're done when most of the seeds have turned golden brown and you can smell the nutty sesame in the air.
- Spread 3/4 of the dressing on a serving platter and pile the carrots on top, then sprinkle the sesame seeds and scallions over the carrots.
- Serve the extra dressing on the side if anyone wants extra,