Soy Sauce Dressing

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This traditional oil-free dressing is a mixture of shoyu (soy sauce), dashi (fish stock), salt, mirin (sweet cooking wine), and nerigarashi (mustard paste). Japanese mustard has a pleasant bitter-spicy flavor. Karashi-joyu goes well with briefly boiled vegetables, such as spinach, watercress, mustard leaf, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, and bean sprouts.

NotesKarashi is the general word for mustard; wa-garashi is the expression for Japanese mustard, which is hotter than its Western counterpart, yo-garashi. Wa-garashi has a dark yellow color and a pleasant bitter flavor. It is always sold in powdered form, called konakarashi. The paste form of mustard, neigarashi, is simply mustard powder mixed with water. Paste mustard is served as a condiment for dishes such as oden (a hot stew of assorted fish cakes, gyoza (pot-stickers or pan-fried dumplings, jiaoji), simmered vegetable and meat dishes, and miso soups. Mustard is also used in dressing.

If you can’t find Japanese mustard, substitute Chinese mustard powder or Colman’s English mustard. These, like the Japanese type, are made from a hot, yellow variety of mustard seed.  

To make mustard paste: vigorously stir equal parts of mustard powder and lukewarm water (heated to about 105 degrees F), until the paste becomes pungent. One teaspoon of mustard powder produces 1 teaspoon of the paste form. Sometimes I call for thin mustard paste; in these cases, used 1 ½ teaspoons water for each teaspoon mustard powder. Because the pungency of mustard paste declines quickly with exposure to air, cover the paste with plastic wrap until you are ready to use it.  

Sources: Japanese and other Asian food stores sell hot mustard powder and paste. Colman’s English mustard is available in supermarkets.

What to Look For: Japanese mustard is packed in a mustard-colored can. The paste form comes in a plastic tube with a yellow cap.

Storage : After opening the container, refrigerate mustard powder or paste. Use the paste type within ten days.  



Total Timeunder 15 minutes

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Dietary Considerationegg-free, lactose-free, low cholesterol, low-fat, peanut free, tree nut free

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Taste and Texturehot & spicy, salty, savory, sharp, sweet, umami, winey

Type of Dishdressing


  • ½ teaspoons usukuchi shoyu (light-colored soy sauce) or regular shoyu (soy sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (sweet cooking wine)
  • ½ cup dashi (fish stock)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon hot mustard paste (see Notes)


  1. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients except the mustard paste. Add the mustard paste little by little, stirring. Taste the dressing when you’ve added half the mustard paste, and either stop or continue adding it, to suit your taste. Toss the dressing with about 9 ounces of briefly boiled and cooled vegetables, and serve.


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We made this recipe. We followed your prescription to use ½ teaspoons usukuchi shoyu but do you think it can be 1/2 tablespoon? I like your way of thinking about food. Living in Japan we are fortunate. When body is in bad condition we can heal with food. That is what I will do from now after I received some unhappy news from doctor about my condition. Thank you for making good recipes. We will follow up ! Diane


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