My Simple, Cold Tofu Salad Will Tempt You To Make Tofu At Home

Tofu is one of the most under appreciated foods, having earned an undeserved reputation for being a vegetarian mainstay with not much flavor. Personally, Iʼm a fan of the versatile soybean cake!  So, I’m taking it on as a challenge to convert you, too, into a tofu lover.

My Cold Tofu Salad

A centuries old source of protein, tofu was historically an inexpensive and satisfying alternative to meat which adapted well with most cooking styles. Predominant in Asian and Southeast Asian diets, fresh tofu is made using coagulated soy milk made from cooked and filtered soybeans. Like cheese, a coagulant is added to the soy milk, making the milk separate into curds and whey. The curds are drained and pressed according to different levels of firmness, then cut into soft cakes.

The taste and texture of fresh tofu is creamy with a subtle satisfying flavor. I love how tofu takes on the flavor of practically any seasoning that you prepare it with … whether tossed in a tangy salad or braised in a rich stew. The most common forms of tofu found in the refrigerated section of most supermarkets are bricks of soybean cake packed in water. Labeled as silken, soft or firm, the texture of the tofu will determine how it’s best used:

  • Silken tofu has a creamy consistency and falls apart easily. It’s used predominantly as a base for a sauce – or in sweet or savory dishes.
  • Soft and firm tofu hold their shape best and are typically used in stir-fry and braised dishes.

Common complaints about tofu are the amount of water it retains and its sometimes overwhelming sour flavor. When tofu is not super fresh, it ferments in the water that it’s stored in, producing a sour aftertaste. While working in a Hong Kong restaurant, I was taught that the solution for ridding any sourness and removing excess water from tofu is as follows:

  • Immerse the tofu brick in a shallow pan of simmering water for 5 minutes;
  • Drain the brick by lightly sandwiching the tofu between two plates;
  • After 30 minutes, pour off the excess liquid drained from the tofu before continuing with your recipe; and
  • When storing tofu, remember that it is perishable and really should be refrigerated for no longer that a week.

My Cold Tofu Salad

My family enjoys tofu either served at room temperature with a light drizzling of a ginger-soy dressing and topped with green onions or, for a heartier dish of tofu, braised with a bit of pork, soy sauce and chilis. Whether served hot or cold, tofu is very satisfying along with a bowl of steamed rice. Try my recipe below for a very simple cold tofu dish … itʼs bound to convince you to start preparing tofu at home.

Cold Tofu Salad with Soy-Miso Dressing
1 lb silken or soft tofu (2 bricks)
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup minced green onions
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon toasted white sesame seeds

1 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon mirin
1 teaspoon miso paste
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons grated ginger
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

Fill a shallow pan with enough water to cover the blocks of tofu. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water and bring to a low boil. Drain the bricks of tofu and carefully slide them into the water and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the tofu bricks and place between 2 clean dish towels to soak up the excess moisture.

In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, mirin, miso paste, sugar and grated ginger. While continuously whisking, add the sesame oil.

To assemble, carefully slice the tofu bricks into 2 inch cubes and place in a pyramid-fashion on a serving platter. Sprinkle the tofu with green onions and drizzle the dressing over the tofu. Garnish with cilantro and toasted sesame seeds and serve.

Makes 4 servings.