Tofu and oyster mushroom soba salad with sesame dressing, the vindication of tofu, and counting down to Prague!

Tofu soba salad with sesame dressing

Tofu soba salad with sesame dressing

This is more than just a light, flavorful, healthy, and fun salad to make on a week day night. It is a protest against the injustice, the deep-rooted prejudice, the name-calling of an ethnic(food) group: the TOFU. “Isn’t that just like, a meat substitute?” “But it tastes nothing like meat!” “Oh I just don’t like the texture, and it has no taste…” this kind of bigotry stems from ignorance and misunderstanding. To compare tofu with meat is like holding all cheese in contempt for having the ‘wrong’ texture, being stinky and nothing like, say, egg and therefore banishing it to the ‘specialty food’ isle for the gastronomically queer. Tofu is not meat, and it’s perfectly happy being the star of it’s own show.

Then again, what do I care? I enjoy eating and cooking tofu of all texture and shapes, the ever adaptive and convenient ingredient, and really am not bothered by the fact not more people appreciate this super food. But sometimes you just feel like setting people straight. Eating tofu has nothing to do with being a vegetarian, a hippie, a health nut, it’s just about enjoying another culinary ingredient that is versatile and a convenient source of protein. The fact it has a subtle flavour (it does have a taste by the way, it tastes like soy beans) makes it the perfect companion to any stir-fry, soup, salad, or on it’s own with a light teriyaki sauce or tangy sesame dressing. It can even be used in a creamy dessert recipe, mixed into cheesecake or eaten like a custard with syrup. The texture of tofu can be silky to firm (like been curd) depending on the water content, and can be used fresh, cooked, deep-fried, pan-fried, steamed, mashed, frozen… you name a way, somebody’s done it. This post is in no way meant to be a comprehensive description of all things related to tofu. It’s more like… a vindictive rant in the name of one of my favourite ingredients.

And here is one way to enjoy tofu that doesn’t involve it having a identity crisis or you pretending it walked at some point in its life: buckwheat noodles mixed with fresh vegetables, topped with lightly grilled tofu and oyster mushroom and drizzled with a tangy homemade sesame dressing.

Ingredients:

Tofu Soba Salad makes 4 servings or as a meal for 2 people
firm tofu 1 box
oyster mushroom 4
olive oil 1 tbsp
soy sauce and sugar 1 tsp each
soba noodles 2 bundles
green onion 1 stalk
purple cabbage 2 leaves
carrot 1
cucumber 1
arugula or watercress 0.5 cup
sesame dressing 0.5 cup
Sesame dressing makes 1/2 cup
sesame oil 2 tbsp
soy sauce 2 tbsp
Olive oil 1 tbsp
balsamic vinegar 1 tbsp
brown sugar 1 tbsp
ginger and garlic paste 1 tbsp
sesame seeds 1 tbsp
wasabi powder 1 tsp
tofu and oyster mushroom

tofu and oyster mushroom

Method:
  1. Remove tofu from package, drain. Make ~1cm slices and dry on paper towel.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the soba noodles. Cook according to directions or just to al dente. Drain and let cool.
  3. Add a little bit of live oil to a pan, lightly brown the tofu on both sides. Careful not to let it burn or stick.
  4. Add sliced oyster mushroom to the same pan, let the oyster mushrooms brown slightly as well.
  5. Add 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp soy sauce to the tofu and mushroom. Remove from pan and let cool.
  6. Mix all ingredients of sesame dressing in a bowl.
  7. Wash and cut the cucumber, carrot, green onion, and purple cabbage into thin slices. Tear arugula into small pieces.
  8. Place cooled noodles in a salad bowl, top with vegetables, tofu, and mushroom, drizzle with the sesame dressing.

Enjoy this light and satisfying salad with hot miso soup and you can call yourself a proper soy connoisseur. Itadakimasu. Or shall I say Dobrou chuť! since we are escaping to, wait for it, PRAGUE in 4 days! Keep posted for pictures of castles, medieval bridges and plenty of food glorious food.

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