Tofu Noodle Salad with a Spicy Tahini Dressing

6 Servings

Sichuanese chefs make a spicy toasted sesame dressing for the popular classic, Dan Dan Noodles. Drawing inspiration from this dish, I’ve created a similar sauce using untoasted tahini paste, which is sold in every supermarket. The flavor is lighter, but no less appealing. Make a big batch and refrigerate so you can spontaneously prepare a salad for a quick and healthy meal.

11/2 pounds very firm tofu squares
¾ to 4 ounces cellophane noodles, softened in boiling water for 10 minutes
2 cups shredded or grated carrots
2 tablespoons virgin olive or canola oil
2  English seedless cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise
2 cups bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
3 stalks scallions, green section only, cut into ½-inch lengths

Spicy Tahini Dressing, mixed together in a bowl:
1 cup Middle Eastern sesame tahini paste
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons rice wine or sake
¼ cup toasted sesame oil
4 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
3  tablespoons minced garlic
1½  teaspoons hot chili paste, or to taste
10 tablespoons water

1. Cut the tofu through the thickness in half and wrap in paper towels. Put a heavy weight such as a pot on top, and drain, changing the towels once, for about 10 minutes. Cut the pressed tofu into matchstick-sized shreds.
2. Bring a pot with three quarts of water to a boil, add the cellophane noodles and cook for about 1 minute, or until tender. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold, running water. Drain thoroughly.
3.Heat a large, non-stick frying pan, skillet, or a wok, add the olive or canola oil and heat until 375 degrees. Lay the pressed tofu slices in one layer and fry, over medium heat, until golden brown. It may take about 5-6 minutes. Turn over and fry again until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Cut the tofu lengthwise into thin slices.
4. Scoop the seeds out of the cucumber with a spoon, then grate or shred the cucumber using the shredding blade of a food processor. Using your hands, squeeze out the liquid.  thickness in half and wrap in paper towels. Put a heavy weight, such as a pot, on top, and drain while preparing the other ingredients, changing the towels once.
5. Arrange the cellophane noodles in the bottom of a large serving bowl. Arrange the carrots, cucumbers, and bean sprouts in separate circles on top of the noodles, leaving a space in the middle for the fried tofu. Arrange the tofu in the center. Sprinkle the scallion greens on top.
6.Put the ingredients for the Spicy Tahini Dressing in a blender or the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, and blend thoroughly. Taste for seasoning, adjusting if necessary. Pour a little of the Spicy Tahini Dressing on top of the salad, and serve the remainder in a bowl on the side. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

© Copyright Nina Simonds Simple Asian Meals 2012.


4 to 6 servings

1 pound very firm tofu, cut across the length into 1-inch slabs   .
Teriaki  Marinade:
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup rice wine or sake
7 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon crushed dried chili flakes
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch

1 medium red onion, outer skin removed
2 red or orange bell peppers                                                                          
½ pound cremini mushrooms
9 ten-inch bamboo skewers, soaked in water to cover for 10 minutes

1. Wrap the slabs of tofu in paper towels and set a heavy weight, such as a heavy skillet on top and let stand 15 minutes to remove excess water. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes.
2. While the tofu is sitting, mix together all the ingredients of the Teriaki marinade  in a heavy, medium-size saucepan and heat until thickened, stirring constantly over medium heat with a wooden spoon to prevent lumps. Remove and cool slightly. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
3. Remove the outer skin of the onion, cut in half, and then cut each half into half again. Separate the pieces. Remove the core and seeds from the pepper and cut into 1-inch squares.  Trim the stems of the crimini mushrooms.
4. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Alternately thread the skewers with the tofu, onion pieces, peppers, and onions, starting and ending with the onions. Arrange the skewered vegetable and tofu on the cookie sheet and pour the teriyaki sauce on top. Let he vegetables and tofu sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Bake the tofu and vegetables for 20 minutes, turning once so that they evenly cook. Remove and arrange on a serving platter. Pour the warm teriaki sauce on top and serve with rice or another whole grain.

© Copyright Nina Simonds Simple Asian Meals 2012.

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