Salad with tofu shreds

08Jun08

Salad with tofu shredsOn my last trip to China I saw this salad everywhere on the menu: a cold salad with finely shredded strips of tofu, almost resembling noodles, seasoned with sesame oil, garlic and cilantro. This is the kind of thing you order first to have with cold beers on a warm summer night, and you practice your chopstick skills on it while waiting for more substantial dishes.

It is a perfect summer food: a small vegetarian starter, full of flavor. I made it the other day to have at home. Once you find your pressed tofu sheets in the Chinese supermarket, this dish is easy to prepare, it only involves cutting, no cooking. (Note to self: these tofu shreds might improve, texture-wise, by soaking for a short while in hot water).

Shred a package of dried tofu sheets into very fine noodle-like strips. You may have to peel the strips apart. Then cut half a clove of garlic into minute dice; mix it with 3 tablespoons of sesame oil, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 or more tablespoons of (homemade) chili oil to your liking. I think hotter is better!

Mix the sauce carefully with the tofu shreds and taste for seasonings – you might need some more oil, it shouldn’t be dry. Adding more sesame oil might be too nutty, try adding vegetable oil. Add three tablespoons of chopped cilantro – or leave them whole, so it is strips all over – and sprinkle over some sesame seeds if you like.

Serve with ice cold beer on hot nights and wait for the next dishes to materialize on the table!

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