Chinese Tofu Salad with Peanut Ginger Dressing

I was invited to a Chinese New Year’s Potluck Brunch sponsored by thefeefeed and I had to figure out what to bring. I don’t know that much about cooking Chinese food, so I did a little research. Apparently some of the Lunar New Year Symbolic Foods are; bok choy, carrots, eggs, dumplings, kumquats, mandarin, onions, peanuts, rice, red chiles, snow peas, walnuts, tangerines, oranges, grapes, mushrooms, melons, apples, pineapple, peaches, coconut & bean sprouts. It is believed that eating any of these food above can promote things like wisdom, peace or wealth, so I definitely wanted to use something from this list in my dish!

I decided to make a Chinese Tofu Salad (more commonly known as Chinese “Chicken” Salad – but I switched out tofu for the chicken). I love a good gingery peanut sauce and this salad had a lot of the ingredients listed above in it; onions “cleverness”, peanuts “health, prosperity & good fortune“, snow peas “unity“, carrots “good luck” – so it seemed like a good choice.

Before I went to the potluck I chopped the vegetables, prepared the tofu, and made the dressing ahead of time (which I put it in a jar). Once I arrived, I assembled the vegetables in  a large bowl, topped them with the tofu, and then dressed the whole salad before serving it. The dressing gave the salad a very tangy, gingery flavor and the vegetables were nice & crunchy. I think (hope) people really liked it…and an added bonus for many was that it was vegan and gluten free!  There was so much good food there, as you might expect from a feedfeed event!

Chinese Tofu Salad with Peanut Ginger Dressing

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 3/4 cup of canola or peanut oil
  • 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 3 TB. of soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 TB. of smooth peanut butter
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 TB. of honey
  • 1 TB. of minced or grated fresh ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic minced or grated
  • salt & pepper to taste

*Whisk the above ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside. This same peanut sauce is delicious tossed into cold cooked Asian noodles, or drizzled over steamed vegetables like broccoli or carrots. It is highly addictive!

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Ingredients for the tofu:

  • 1 package of firm tofu (drained, pressed, and cut into strips)
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons of canola or peanut oil for frying
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons of soy sauce or tamari for frying

To prepare the tofu:

Drain 1 package of tofu. Place on a cutting board covered with a few paper towels. Place another paper towel on top of the tofu and gently press to squeeze out any excess liquid. Next, cut the block of tofu into strips.

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Fry the strips in a flat skillet in a few teaspoons of canola or peanut oil. When they begin to sizzle, sprinkle them with the soy sauce (or tamari) and let them turn golden on one side. Flip once and let the other side brown too. Next remove them from the pan onto a platter and let them cool, then cut the strips into little cubes (fourths) with a sharp knife. Cover and set aside.

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Ingredients for the salad:

  • 1/2 to a whole head of savoy cabbage (thinly shredded)
  • 1/2 of a red cabbage (sliced thinly)
  • 1 – 2 carrots (sliced & julienned into thin pieces)
  • 1 red pepper (seeded, cored & sliced) – or 3 -4  mixed small sweet peppers (sliced)
  • 2 cups of snow peas (blanched)
  • 4 – 5 green unions (thinly sliced)
  • 4 radishes (shaved)
  • 1 cucumber (sliced and chopped)
  • 1 cup of edamame (blanched)
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup of fresh mint (chopped)
  • 2 TB. of chives (chopped into 1″ pieces)

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Condiments:

  • 1/3 cup of crushed peanuts
  • 1 TB. of toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 Tb. of chopped chives
  • cilantro & mint

Blanch the snow peas and edamame in boiling water for several minutes, then remove them and drain into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. They should both be bright green and still crunchy. Cover and set aside in the fridge to chill. Prepare the vegetables by slicing and chopping them into strips and pieces.

Right before serving, prepare the salad by arranging the mixed vegetables in a big bowl. (reserve a small amount of each vegetable to add to the top of the salad)  Pour 2/3 of the Peanut Ginger Dressing over the vegetables and lightly toss with salad tongs so that everything is mixed well. Next arrange the tofu on top, along with the reserved vegetables. Drizzle the rest of the dressing over the tofu. Sprinkle with the condiments; chopped peanuts, sesame seeds & herbs.

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Enjoy!

 

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