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Anyone with a garden knows that when Japanese shiso (Perilla frutescens var. crispa) grows, it really grows. But having an abundance of shiso is the best kind of problem: Just make yourself a batch of green goddess dressing.

Purportedly created by a chef in 1920s San Francisco to commemorate a play of the same name, green goddess dressing is traditionally made by blending mayonnaise, sour cream, parsley, chives, scallions and tarragon into a thick, pale green sauce. Its popularity has waxed and waned throughout the 20th century, but the dressing has come back into vogue in the last few years.

The dressing is incredibly flexible because you can play around with any combination of mixed herbs or leafy greens you like. Beyond shiso, mint, basil, coriander, Italian parsley, mizuna (mustard greens) and even wilting salad greens work well. Ideally, the dressing will be punchy and herbaceous.

Salads are just the start for uses of this dressing. Toss with cucumber chunks for a tzatziki of sorts, or try it as a dip with raw vegetables. It’s gorgeous in a chicken-avocado sandwich. Better yet, marinade some meat in the dressing for a few hours, shake off the excess and roast. It’s also a fantastic sauce for rice bowls: Try one with spicy grilled pork, an onsen tamago (hot-spring egg), hot sauce and a good glug of this dressing.

Traditional recipes call for mayonnaise and sour cream; I prefer yogurt for a lighter dressing. Use the thickest yogurt you can find, or it’ll be too thin and watery. Plain unflavored Greek or Greek-style yogurt is ideal. More liquid yogurts like Koiwai Farm’s 100% milk (小岩井生乳100%) will do in a pinch, but avoid ones with added sugar or artificial thickeners. Swap out the anchovies for a tablespoon of capers (rinse off any excess brine) to make it vegetarian.

Green dressing is incredibly flexible because you can play around with any combination of mixed herbs or leafy greens you like. | FLORENTYNA LEOW
Green dressing is incredibly flexible because you can play around with any combination of mixed herbs or leafy greens you like. | ALEX FISHER

 

Makes approx. 2 cups (500 milliliters)

Prep: 5-10 mins.

 

Equipment:

• A blender or stick blender

• A large, tall container (if using a stick blender)

 

For the dressing:

• 1 cup shiso leaves, tightly packed (36-40 grams)

• 1 cup mixed leafy herbs, tightly packed (50-55 grams)

• 4-6 large garlic cloves, peeled

• 2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped

• 4-6 anchovies, drained of their oil

• 1 cup (250 milliliters) plain Greek yogurt

• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 tablespoon Kewpie mayonnaise (optional)

• 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice, or to taste

• 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

• 2½ teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper, or to taste

 

1. Wash all the greens and pat dry.

2. Place all the ingredients in a large, tall container or your blender. Blend until everything is reasonably smooth and combined. You should have a dressing that’s the consistency of heavy cream. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt and black pepper. You may wish to add more garlic or anchovies.

3. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to one week. Extra dressing can be frozen for one to two months.

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