In the summer, I’m always looking for quick and easy dishes like this Chinese tofu salad, that rely on great summer vegetables and light proteins.
About Five Spiced Tofu
One of the ingredients I love in the summertime is five-spiced tofu. It’s a light and tasty protein that’s already cooked and ready to use. Rather than using the tofu in a stir-fry this time, I combined it with a bunch of crunchy julienned vegetables to create a refreshing Chinese Tofu Salad.
For this summery salad, we are using five-spiced tofu noodles (五香豆腐丝, wu xiang doufu si). You can also use the plain blocks of five-spiced tofu (五香豆腐干, wu xiang doufu gan), which can be julienned just as easily.
Based on a Chinese Supermarket Salad?
The inspiration for this dish came from our days living in Beijing. In the summertime, almost all local Beijing supermarkets have a salad bar. That is, an Asian salad bar!
So besides the more common salad ingredients like lettuce, cucumber, and carrots, you can also find blanched seaweed and bitter melon, glass noodles, tofu noodles, and even chilled and pre-sliced braised meats like beef and pig’s ears.
It’s not self-serve like a regular salad bar in the US. Instead, you tell the person behind the large glass case your choices and how much you’d like, and then they add your preferred sauce (with the perfunctory question of whether or not you want it spicy—i.e., with chili oil).
Finally, everything is tossed together and weighed on a scale in a container. The container is placed in a plastic bag, tied off with the price tag, and off you go.
In Beijing, people may eat this alone, with rice, with mantou (a kind of bread), or with porridge (Side note: believe it or not, hot porridge is a top choice for summer meals in Beijing, because it’s hydrating, and considered a light meal!)
Make This Recipe Your Own
However you serve it, this Chinese tofu salad is versatile! I used a selection of simple vegetables, but you can change things up with the addition of beets, asparagus, sweet peas, or zucchini noodles.
They’re all great choices for this salad, as long as they can be consumed raw. If not, you can easily blanch vegetables and rinse them in an ice bath before adding them into the mix.
This Chinese tofu salad is a satisfying mid-week meal or side dish. When it’s hot and humid out, it’ll get you in and out of the kitchen in a flash.
Ok, here’s how to make it:
Chinese Tofu Salad: Recipe Instructions
Wash the vegetables and dry off any excess water. Julienne the vegetables, and toss everything in a large mixing bowl, along with the shredded five-spiced tofu.
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, minced garlic, sugar, white pepper, light soy sauce, black vinegar, sesame oil, and toasted sesame seeds. Mix everything together until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Add the sauce mixture to the vegetables and tofu, and top with chopped cilantro. Toss and serve either cold or at room temperature.
Chinese Tofu Salad
- 1 cup red bell pepper (julienned)
- 1 cup red onion (thinly sliced)
- 1 cup carrot (julienned)
- 1 cup cucumber (julienned)
- 1 cup celery (julienned)
- 8 ounces shredded spiced tofu (tofu "noodles")
- 1 tablespoon light olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic (minced)
- 1½ teaspoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)
- Wash the vegetables and dry off any excess water. Julienne the vegetables, and toss everything in a large mixing bowl, along with the tofu.
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, minced garlic, sugar, white pepper, light soy sauce, black vinegar, sesame oil, and toasted sesame seeds. Mix everything together until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Add the sauce mixture to the vegetables and tofu, and top with chopped cilantro. Toss and serve either cold or at room temperature.