We've found 12 red carpet-ready dressings to dazzle your salad, seafood and meat dishes.
6 Aug 2018 - 10:33 AM  UPDATED 13 Aug 2018 - 10:08 AM

A salad without a dressing is really just a bunch of vegetables waiting to be rescued. You could go in subtle with a little salt and pepper, oil and vinegar mix, or you could fly in with all guns blazing with one of these hero sauces. On Food Safari Water, Chef Masaaki Koyama from Masaaki’s Sushi lifts his wakame and octopus salad with a dashi and vinegar dressing that he says is so good you can drink it. His recipe is below, along with 11 other delightful dressings that we wouldn't mind swigging.

Dashi and vinegar 

In episode 2 on Food Safari Water, Koyama shows us how to make the dashi used in this dashi and vinegar dressing at home. A rich dashi adds depth and complexity to this dressing, so it's worth having a go.


Born in Southern Italy, salmoriglio adds a tart, fresh flavour to seafood and roast meats. As Lino Sauro, Olio Kensington Street shows on episode 1 of Food Safari Water, it pairs perfectly with salt-baked snapper, adding freshness and colour.

Lemongrass and chilli 

Give your steak a kick with a lemongrass and chilli dressing packed with Vietnamese flavours. This is meat-and-three-veg with some serious attitude.


A good chimichurri is bursting with herby flavours and just tart enough to notice. The condiment originated in Argentina and Uruguay, though many say it is practically identical to a Sicilian salmoriglio (see above). Many versions of chimichurri add a pinch of hot pepper or finely diced onion.

Bagna cauda

Garlic, anchovy and butter: with these ingredients taking centre stage, you just know you’re going to love bagna cauda. This dipping sauce from Piedmont in Italy is the perfect communal offering. In Piedmont, cardoon, an edible thistle, is often dipped along with bread, celery, carrot, artichoke, fennel and peppers.

Gado gado

While the whole Indonesian dish is called gado gado (“mix-mix”), we’re stealing the rich peanut dressing. Freshly roasted nuts, lemongrass, kaffir lime and lime will fill the kitchen with a fragrance that will make you long for Jakarta. While perfect with the veggies and tofu in gado gado, the peanut sauce is also delicious with chicken or beef.

Nam jim

Nam jim, a classic Thai dipping sauce, has just the right salty, sweet, spicy and sour balance to pair beautifully with seafood. It is especially delicious with grilled king prawns or this smoked ocean trout, though serving it up with a dish of prawn crackers is a simple way to make a punchy party appetiser.

Feta dressing

Pack all the classic Greek flavours, including lemon, garlic and oregano, into one creamy feta dressing. This sauce marries perfectly with a fresh green bean salad or lamb, chicken or beef dishes.

Japanese cabbage salad with wafu dressing

A mix of soy sauce, rice vinegar and oil, wafu adds depth to salad vegetables or steak. There are many variations on this dressing, with the addition of finely diced onion, mustard, garlic or grated ginger being popular. Replacing part of the vegetable oil with sesame oil creates chuka or ‘Chinese-style dressing’.

Saffron dressing

The flavours of Morocco combine to make a colourful addition to seafood and salad. It’s worth making your own preserved lemons to add real depth of flavour to this saffron dressing.

Nuoc cham
Grilled lemongrass chicken salad with nuoc cham

The famous Vietnamese dressing is a fixture at every table. Nuoc cham is particularly popular served with rice paper rolls. It also tastes divine with seafood, pork or chicken – try it with a grilled lemongrass chicken salad.

Green goddess
Green Goddess dressing

This is fashionable dressing at its best. Green goddess is the condiment of the moment, turning up in poké, Buddha bowls and quinoa salads across Instagram. It also turns leftover roast vegetables into something worthy of worship.

Maeve O'Meara is back in Food Safari Water 8pm, Wednesdays on SBS or catch-up on all episodes via SBS On Demand. Visit the program page for recipes, videos and more. 

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Salt-baked snapper with salmoriglio

Whole baked snapper is paired with salmoriglio, a green dressing made with oregano, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Food Safari Water

Squid ink tagliolini with calamari, bottarga and salmon roe

Bring your homemade pasta to the next level with squid ink. Food Safari Water

Sri Lankan fish curry (Kiri malu)

This Sri Lankan curry, fragrant with ginger and lemongrass, will feed your family in less than an hour. Food Safari Water