My friend Jenny and I were talking about 101 cookbooks, and she strongly recommended the Yin and Yang Salad recipe. She said she liked the combination of the raw cabbages and the rich peanut dressing–it seems more balanced than starchy noodles and peanut sauce. I got all the ingredients to make the recipe, but then when I went to prep dinner I realized that the tofu was supposed to marinate overnight, so I made McDermott’s peanut-style sesame noodles instead. The next day I marinated the tofu and made the yin and yang salad for dinner.
The gingered tofu recipe calls for 2/3 cup of tamari and 1/4 cup sesame oil! WTF? I figured it’s just a marinade, we’re not going to actually eat all that soy sauce and oil, so I ignored my instincts and followed the recipe. After marinating the tofu overnight you’re supposed to bake it in the oven. The recipe says to oil a cookie sheet. It seems unnecessary given all the oil in the marinade, but I did it anyway. After baking the tofu looked quite good–golden brown with a nice sheen on the surface. But then I tasted a piece–wow, the tofu was super salty! I figured that maybe the saltiness would be toned down when I combined the tofu with the salad, so I just set the tofu aside and started working on the rest of the recipe.
I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit it, but I don’t think I’ve ever eaten daikon radish before. I thought for some reason that daikons are really spicy–something like horseradish. I don’t know where I got the idea, especially since I have a very distinct memory of my mother biting–with great delight–the head off of an eagle that had been elaborately carved out of a daikon radish. My mom wanted to see the Yangtze river before it was dammed, and my father couldn’t take three weeks off work, so I got to go instead. The eagle incident occurred in the dining room of a small cruiseboat on the Yangtze river. Most of the other passengers were from Taiwan, and the food–although diverse (I think I recall snake’s blood)–was not at all vegan friendly. I think my mother finally got fed up with white rice, and decided to eat the one thing on the table that actually looked fresh and appealing. It just so happened that the daikon radish that caught my mother’s eye was also our table’s centerpiece. My mother’s violent decapitation of our centerpiece earned her a great number of shocked Taiwanese stares. Still, despite the obvious relish with which my mother devoured the eagle’s head, I was always a little afraid of a daikon radish. You can imagine my surprise when I finally bought a daikon for this recipe and discovered that it tastes like any other radish, but quite mild and a little sweet.
The peanut sauce recipe made more than 1 1/4 cups–probably more like 1 2/3 cups. It tasted good. It wasn’t that different from other peanut sauce recipes I’ve made, but it seemed to take quite a bit of work. The end result was tasty though. I put the 2/3 cup I didn’t need for the recipe in the fridge.
The recipe says it serves 4, but it made a massive amount of salad. I think if the salad is all you’re having for dinner, it might actually serve 6, and if you’re just having it for a side, it would serve probably 12.
As soon as I finished making the salad I mixed in the tofu and peanut dressing and sat down with a big bowl for dinner. I quite enjoyed the crunchy veggies, and the peanut sauce was nice. The tofu was still way too salty, but I ate around it. Derek had gone out for dinner, so he didn’t get to try it. But I planned on serving it the next night for dinner. Unfortunately, however, the veggies were no longer crisp. They were actually quite unappealingly soggy. I still had lots of leftover cabbage and daikon, however, so I mixed the salad with more fresh veggies, and it was pretty good. Three of us ate the salad as our first course, which we then followed with a piece of butternut squash lasagna. Derek and our guest both had seconds on the salad. (Although even Derek said the tofu was way too salty.) I thought it wasn’t as good as the day before, but at least the salty tofu was diluted a bit by the extra veggies. The following day, however, we still had massive amounts of the salad left. I tried adding more veggies again but at this point the salad was pretty limp and no one wanted to eat it. I ended up throwing it and all the extra peanut sauce away, sadly.
I’m not sure whether I’d make this recipe again. If I do, I will definitely decrease the soy sauce in the tofu marinade and I’ll cut the recipe in half or thirds, and only make enough peanut sauce for the recipe. Or if I make the whole recipe I won’t mix it all up ahead of time. I’ll just dress the portion I’m going to eat that day. I am really glad I tried daikon, however. I’ve already enjoyed it on peanut noodles, and I think it might be a reasonable substitute for jicama in the Frontera Grill pineapple, jicama, cucumber salad.