*%^ing ketchup. I hate it.
I’m hardly what one would call a “food snob.” I do generally eat very healthy, and I love to cook so I spent years making almost everything from scratch. After spending a few months eating beans out of a can like a 1950’s hobo because I was newly single and had no one to cook for, I recently started up again. I’ll spend hours in the kitchen preparing a gourmet meal for one and then sit down and eat it by the light of whatever Yankee Candle nib I can find lying around the house.
If you think this is sad, kindly keep it to yourself.
It may seem a like a waste of time to create elaborate gourmet meals for one person, but half the satisfaction is in the process, and taking the time to do something nice for yourself is worth it. I mean really, if I can spend that much time cooking for someone else, why can’t I do it for myself? I’m the one who will appreciate it, I’m the one who did the work so I’m the one who deserves to eat it. I’m certainly not the one who will dump ketchup all over a dish that has no business being anywhere near ketchup.
I hate ketchup.
A few years ago, there was a viral human interest story about a French chef named Xavier Duclos who had banned the use of ketchup in his Florida restaurant for any patron over ten. Of course the whole concept was ridiculous; if someone’s paying to eat at your restaurant they should be able to put ketchup on whatever they want. They’ve purchased the food, it’s theirs. But I have to say I sort of understood.
Seriously, guys. I don’t ask for a lot, but don’t put ketchup on the food I have lovingly prepared for you. My biggest pet peeve is people who dump ketchup all over their food. I’ve witnessed friends pour a mound of ketchup on everything from potatoes au gratin to Cordon Bleu to a fricking Quiche Lorraine. Drowned the food I made in a puddle of it. I went to dinner with someone who squirted ketchup all over a 60$ filet mignon once. I don’t get it. You can’t taste anything that’s smothered in ketchup. Pit ketchup against any other flavor, and ketchup wins. If you want to eat a plate of ketchup, just eat a plate of ketchup…but do it at your own house. Don’t do it when you’re a guest in someone else’s home and they spent hours making you something fantastic. It’s rude.
So we’ve established that I hate ketchup. No ketchup at the table. Normally, I don’t even have it in my house, I had no use for the stuff until I recently came across a recipe for the most delicious ginger salad dressing I’ve ever eaten. So I had to buy some, but I silently protested by drawing on the bottle.
If you’ve ever been to Benihana, you’ve most likely started your meal with some anemic iceberg lettuce drizzled in a delicious tangy ginger salad dressing. I love that stuff, it’s pretty much the only reason I ever went to Benihana, as I’m not much of a meat eater and I always felt kind of awkward sitting around a huge table full of strangers while a chef juggled knives and squirted oil onto a griddle whilst doing a weird Eastern version of the Tom Cruise “Cocktail” dance. But oh, I love that dressing. The various store-bought versions I’ve tried never had the punch of the freshly made stuff. While perusing through some of the dusty cookbooks in a family member’s home, I found a recipe that is just as good as, if not better, than the Benihana version. It’s from a book is called “Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2” by Todd Wilbur.
Benihana-ish Ginger Salad Dressing
½ cup minced onion
½ cup peanut oil
⅓ cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons minced celery
4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
….and finally…2 teaspoons ketchup
Throw it all in a blender, and run on high speed until everything’s pureed. It takes about 30 seconds and makes about 1 ¾ cups. Put it in a jar and stick it in the fridge, it keeps for ages because of all the acidity.
I like my food to have a ‘burn your nostril hair’ potency so I add a bit more ginger and garlic than the recipe calls for, and I threw in some crushed red pepper flakes for an extra punch. But there you go, easy, delicious, healthier than the processed stuff you squeeze out of a plastic bottle, and a great reason to start eating salad. And as for the ketchup, its only purpose seems to be to add a gingery orange color. I’m pretty certain I could substitute tomato paste for the bastardized condiment and return to having a ketchup-free kitchen.