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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tofu and Celery Salad: Recipe

There is something tremendously satisfying about making meals out of virtually nothing. Of course, my pantry is far from bare. But there are times the fridge is almost empty. Today I am enroute to a conference and as a result I'd been too busy to shop and so on Monday I was faced with very little to work with. In fact I was down to not much more than a package of tofu and some organic celery!

I had thought I would make scrambled tofu for breakfast one day, but really it just doesn't work without toast. Searching on the newly designed Epicurious web site I found what sounded like a terrific recipe. As usual I made some tweaks and the result was very satisfying indeed. For one thing I used soft tofu which I think absorbs the vinaigrette better and I skipped the sesame seeds and added some ginger. I think you could also add garlic if you like. I could see making this for a potluck or serving it as a light and cool no-cook Summer dinner.

Poor tofu, so many people seem to dislike it. But not me. I love it's creaminess and mellow flavor. This recipe is for tofu lovers and will not win over anyone who finds the texture of tofu unappealing. It reminds me a bit of those Japanese appetizers like the Summer dish hiya yakko tofu which consists of a cube of cold tofu served with a garnish of thinly sliced ginger and green onion, in a bowl with some soy and yuzu. If you are a tofu lover, give it a try, if not, just move along.

Tofu and Celery Salad
2- 4 side salad portions


1 (14-oz) block of firm or extra firm silken tofu
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
2 teaspoons rice vinegar (if using seasoned omit black pepper)
2 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 large ribs of celery


Rinse tofu and pat dry, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices in 1 layer on a triple thickness of paper towels on top of a large baking sheet, then cover with another triple thickness of paper towels and another baking sheet if you have one. Weight the pan down with 3 1-lb cans or a large cast iron skillet to remove excess moisture and firm it up, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together oils, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and pepper in a large bowl. Trim celery, then slice very thin diagonally. Cut tofu crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide matchsticks and transfer to a bowl. Toss gently with dressing, celery and season to taste. Do not use a spoon or you will break up the tofu. Served chilled.


Over at Bay Area Bites is an announcement about the Tofu Hakiu contest. I swear, I am NOT making this up!