In a small bowl or in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine brown sugar, olive oil, vinegar, sesame seeds, and soy sauce.
If you're going to use the dressing right away, let it sit out on the counter to let the flavors meld. Otherwise, store it in the refrigerator and shake it up again before you use it.
Brown sugar: Or substitute an equal amount of honey.
Olive oil: You can also use vegetable oil.
Red wine vinegar: Or substitute cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar.
Sesame seeds: To toast the sesame seeds, in a medium skillet over medium heat, heat them until golden brown and fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 3-5 minutes.
Yield: About 1 1/2 cups of dressing.
Make ahead: I like to make a double batch of the recipe (for about 3 cups total) and keep it in a jar for the week ahead. But it’s easy to whip up even on the fly, especially if you have toasted sesame seeds ready.
Storage: Store the dressing in a jar in the refrigerator. Shake up before using.
Grind the seeds: A fun way to make a creamy sesame vinaigrette without mayo is by grinding the toasted sesame seeds before adding them to the dressing. Pulverize using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder (I use a small coffee grinder reserved just for spices) until smooth. The ground seeds will thicken the dressing somewhat.
Ginger: With ginger, this simple Japanese salad dressing gets even better. Mix in some grated fresh ginger to really make the dressing pop! Use a fine grater like a Microplane to do this.
Black sesame seeds: If you have black sesame seeds, add some to provide contrast.
Garlic: A little garlic goes a long way here, but try a clove of grated raw garlic if you like.
Scallions: Use the whole green onion (or fresh chives) to boost the soy-sesame flavors. Finely chopped work best.
Mayonnaise: Make a creamy dressing by adding a spoonful or two of mayonnaise.