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Shrimp Osaka needs Ginger Dressing

Dear Readers: In this column on March 9 we published a recipe for the Shrimp Osaka from The Mustard Seed Cafe restaurant.

The recipe was originally included in “Spokane Cooks!” charity cookbook in 1986 and we’ve run it twice since then.

But before long, we heard from readers who said that the recipe just didn’t turn out like the Shrimp Osaka they had tasted at the restaurant. Some said it was too oily. Others thought the lemon was too strong. One of our readers said when she mentioned the recipe while she was dining at the Mustard Seed, the server said it was missing a “secret” ingredient.

“That’s not the right recipe,” said Mustard Seed owner Dave Hall, when we called to check. “But we’re really not willing to give out that recipe. It is one of the things that have made the Mustard Seed and Noodle Express successful.”

He fears another business will try to steal the popular dish, Hall said.

The mistake in the recipe apparently began because of confusion about the dipping sauce that is served with the dish versus the sauce in which the shrimp or chicken is cooked, Hall said.

But as a longtime lover of Shrimp and Chicken Osaka, I took a stab at re-creating it at home using another Mustard Seed recipe previously published in Cook’s Notebook. The result confirmed my suspicion that the sauce for the Osaka dishes doubles as the restaurant’s ginger salad dressing.

Hall said he wouldn’t verify that the ginger dressing is the “secret ingredient,” but he didn’t deny it. (And the Mustard Seed recipe published in the 1998 “Spokane Cooks! Northwest” book suggests adding a few tablespoons of the dressing while stir-frying meat for added interest and flavor.) Hall also pointed out that you can buy the Mustard Seed’s Ginger Salad Dressing in 12- and 16-ounce containers at the restaurant.

The basic recipe is the same as the one we published on March 9; what was missing was the sauce for the shrimp. To make it, I used the Mustard Seed’s recipe for Ginger Salad Dressing from the “Spokane Cooks! Northwest” cookbook. While stir-frying the shrimp, ginger and lemon slices, I ladled enough of the dressing over the shrimp to make it look like the Osaka I’ve eaten at Noodle Express and the Mustard Seed.

Serve the shrimp over rice with the dipping sauce on the side.

Shrimp Osaka

Adapted from Mustard Seed Cafe recipes published in “Spokane Cooks!” (1988) and “Spokane Cooks! Northwest” (1986)

1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and cleaned

3 tablespoons salad oil

2 to 3 slices fresh ginger, minced

3 slices fresh lemon

Ginger Dressing, to taste (recipe follows)

For the dipping sauce:

3 tablespoons Kikkoman soy sauce

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons Coleman’s mustard

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1/3 cup salad oil

For the shrimp, heat wok and add oil. When the oil smokes, add shrimp, ginger, lemon slices and Ginger Salad Dressing (recipe follows), to taste. Stir-fry on medium heat about 4 minutes or until shrimp are cooked.

To make the dipping sauce, blend all ingredients until smooth. Pour sauce into small bowl and serve shrimp on the side.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition per serving: Unable to calculate due to recipe variables.

Ginger Dressing

From the Mustard Seed Cafe, published in the Spokane Cooks! Northwest” 1998

1 cup vegetable oil

2 1/2 tablespoons gingerroot, minced and peeled

1/2 rib celery, chopped

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted

1/8 teaspoon celery seed

1/2 teaspoon ketchup

Pinch white pepper

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup distilled white vinegar

Using a blender, combine all ingredients except the soy sauce and vinegar. Blend for 30 seconds. Then add the soy sauce and vinegar and blend for 30 more seconds. Store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Yield: About 1 pint

Approximate nutrition per 2 tablespoon serving: 94 calories, 10 grams fat (2 grams saturated, 90 percent fat calories), 1 gram protein, 1.6 grams carbohydrate, 1 milligram cholesterol, 487 milligrams sodium.