Thai tofu salad

May 9, 2010 at 10:59 pm (C (1 star, edible), East and SE Asia, Other, Salads, Tofu)


This is another recipe from the cookbook Buddha’s Table by Chat Mingkwan.  I bought mint and cilantro for a recipe, but then forgot which recipe I had bought them for.  I was trying to figure out what to do with the herbs and decided to make a deconstructed Vietnamese spring (summer?) roll salad. But at the last minute I saw this recipe for a minced tofu salad, which calls for mint and cilantro, and decided to try it instead.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. rice
  • 1 1/2 cups firm silken tofu, well drained
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbs. sliced shallots
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 2 tsp. dried chili flakes
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh Thai chilies
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 Tbs. chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup julienne warm-colored bell pepper
  • 1 head of lettuce or cabbage
  • 1/2 cup sliced long beans or green beans, in 1 1/2-inch lengths

Instructions:

The rice is roasted in a dry skillet until brown, and then coarsely ground in a mortar.  The tofu is cooked in a dry skillet until light brown.  The mushrooms are poached until tender.  The soy sauce, lime juice, shallots, sugar, chili flakes, and Thai chilies are mixed together with the tofu, mushrooms, and ground rice.  The cilantro, green onions, and bell pepper serve as garnish.  The lettuce and long beans are served on the side.

My notes:

I followed the recipe except my tofu was medium cotton tofu, not firm silken tofu.  Also, I cut the dried chili flakes to 1 tsp.   Finally, I mixed all the “garnishes” in with the salad.  I served the salad over brown rice and whole lettuce leaves, with some pickled cauliflower on the side.

The salad was very colorful and pretty.  The flavor was pretty intense, as Mingkwan warns.  I only used 2 tiny fresh Thai chilies and 1 tsp. of chili flakes, but still it was came close to my spice threshold.  Something was missing though.  The salad definitely has sweet, sour, salty, and spicy, and no one of the dimensions dominated.  But it was missing something–something dark and pungent.  Derek said it was too sweet and too sour, and needed fish sauce.  Clearly, that’s not an option, but there must be something I could add to balance out the dressing.  Maybe fermented yellow soybeans?  I think that’s what McDermott recommends as a vegetarian replacement for fish sauce.  I also might increase the amount of tofu a little bit.

Derek also really disliked that some of the toasted rice kernels were not totally ground up, and they would crunch when you bit into them.  He said they hurt his teeth.  I only got a few hard kernels, and they didn’t really bother me.

Mingkwan says this salad serves 6.  As a main dish with rice, however, I think it would only serve 4.

There’s a vaguely similar recipe in Real Vegetarian Thai, but the only vegetable is bamboo shoots and there’s no tofu. McDermott also suggests serving the salad with cabbage wedges and green beans on the slide.   The dressing is a little different though:  4 Tbs. shallots, 2 Tbs. garlic, 4 green onions, 4 Tbs. veg stock, 4 Tbs. lime juice, 2 Tbs. roasted rice powder, 4 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. chili flakes, and two handfuls of mint.  There’s more shallots and green onions and quite a bit of garlic.  There’s a little less sugar and significantly less heat, and the dressing is toned down with some vegetable stock.

Rating: B-.

Derek: C+ the night I made it.  B- the next day, when the flavors had mellowed a bit.

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