Asian Salad with Fried Tofu (original recipe)
We all know the saying “The quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. This can also be a fairly speedy route to the female heart as well. Staying in and making your date dinner (or making it together) rates high on the romance scale. You get to show off your creativity and appreciation for nuance and details, even if it’s a simple dish. It’s no different from putting an outfit together. That’s what this series is all about. She or he will be left impressed, and you won’t need the skills of Wolfgang Puck.
- Familiar Ingredients: oil, soy sauce, peanut butter, sugar, pepper, carrot, green onion, cilantro, lettuce, cabbage, Sriracha
- Not So Familiar Ingredients: rice vinegar, sesame oil, marinated tofu, daikon radish, pickled ginger
- Number of Pans/Pots you’ll need to make this dish: one large skillet to fry the tofu in
Man can not live on meat alone. Yes, it provides protein, amino acids, and B12, but veggies are just as important in the human diet. So we’re going vegan for this recipe (because you want to keep your date’s hot bod healthy, right?). Of course you could swap the tofu out for some grilled chicken, but frying the tofu makes it super delicious and adds a flavor element that shouldn’t be missed. If you’ve never had fried tofu before, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
This salad is also great for the hot months of summer. It’s light, refreshing, and isn’t a gut bomb. Which means more room for dessert! First a few tips below, with the recipe to follow.
An easy way to eat your veggies. Mom would be proud.
Tofu – The recipe calls for marinated tofu, which you should be able to find at any Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or in the health section of your local grocer. If you can’t find marinated tofu, regular extra firm tofu will do the trick. You’ll just need to press the water out of the tofu so you don’t have insane splattering when you fry the tofu up. Once you’ve fried it, crack some sea salt over it to bring out some flavor. WARNING: no matter what, there will be splattering when you fry the tofu up. Be sure to protect you’re clothing with an apron, and if you’re wearing long sleeves roll them up! And use longer tongs to flip the tofu so you don’t get hot oil splatters on your hands. Alright, I’ll stop mothering now.
Dressing – You can skip all the mincing for the dressing if you own a blender or Magic Bullet. Just chop or crush the garlic, keep the pickled ginger whole, and toss it into the blender with the other ingredients. Also, make sure the oil you’re using for the dressing is fresh. If you don’t use oil often, and you’ve had a container of it sitting in your cupboard for a year, it’s time to get some new oil. I used Chosen Foods Avocado Oil for both the dressing and frying the tofu. The dressing also calls for sesame oil, which you can find in the Asian Foods aisle at the store along with pickled ginger (that’s the stuff you’re served along with your sushi).
On to the recipe!
Asian Salad with Fried Tofu (recipe for two)
- 1/4 cup oil (extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, or canola will work)
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1/2 tsp minced pickled ginger (if blending the dressing, put a lightly packed tsp of pickled ginger in the blender, no mincing required)
- 1/2 tsp Sriracha
- 1/2 tsp sugar, agave nectar, molasses, or honey
- 1/2 tsp peanut butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced (unless you’re blending, then just chop the garlic into a few pieces and blend with the rest)
- fresh pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a container with a lid (mason jars work great) and shake until well combined. If you’re blending the dressing, combine all ingredients in the blender and blend for 10-15 seconds.
- 1 package of marinated or extra firm tofu, sliced into 2″ strips
- 2 tbsp oil (for frying)
Heat oil in non-stick skillet. Once it starts to ripple it’s ready to go. Carefully place tofu strips in oil and fry for 2 minutes. Flip strips and fry another two minutes. Tofu should be golden to deep brown. As you remove the tofu, place it on a double layer of paper towels to allow to drain. Use another paper towel to dab oil from top of tofu strips. Try not to eat them all before you put them on the salads.
- 4 cups baby lettuce mix
- 2 cups chopped cabbage mix (I used Dole Chopped Asian Blend)
- 1 medium carrot, thinly sliced or julienned
- 1/2 cup julienned daikon radish
- 1/2 cup chopped green onion
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Divide the lettuce and cabbage between two serving bowls. Top each salad with carrot, radish, and tofu strips. Sprinkle each with green onions and cilantro. Divide the dressing between the two salads, spooning or pouring it over the salads evenly.
Final Note: My guy and I paired this with a saugvinon blanc, and it worked surprisingly well. Stick to a citrusy white wine for this salad.