Asian Salad with Ginger Marinated Tofu


this recipe couldn’t be more perfect for those scorching summer days where you think that if you dare to turn on your oven you might just die. in new york city, kitchens are small and central AC is something that us peasants don’t get to even dream about. it’s a luxury reserved for rich folk and suburban people. so you can imagine that regular oven use in the summer isn’t exactly something i fantasize about. that being said, i love to eat. and i can’t live without baked goods. so i suck it up sometimes and sweat my way through a batch of chocolate chip cookies – but you won’t catch me roasting a chicken in the middle of july. 

because i can’t handle the heat, but want to stay in the kitchen, i consider myself lucky that i adore salads. as in, give me some mixed greens and some salad dressing and i’m a happy girl. throw in some toasted walnuts and goat cheese and you’ve got me praising the heavens for the party going on in my mouth. but you know what i really love, when it comes to salads? an asian chicken salad. you know, the kind they serve at every restaurant under the sun, usually with some variation of “crunchy asian noodles” (so stereotypical) and some sort of sesame dressing. i’m a big fan of the asian chicken salad at panera, and on a classier note, also the one at spring street natural, in soho. to the point where it’s the only thing i’ve ever ordered at the restaurant (and i’ve eaten there at least five times). 

so you can imagine my glee when my daily “everyday food” (courtesy of martha, of course) email arrived in my inbox the other day promising a healthier version of my favorite restaurant salad. HALLELUJAH PRAISE THE LORD. a healthier asian chicken salad! the perfect lunch meal! the perfect summertime staple. GIMME GIMME GIMME. 

the other night, it was hot in my kitchen, and i didn’t feel like poaching chicken (which is what the recipe recommends). so i swapped out the chicken for marinated tofu, and boy, am i happy i did. it made the salad even lighter, and i didn’t have to wait for the chicken to poach (i was feeling impatient). 

it took me about ten minutes to make the tofu, another 5 to toss the salad ingredients together, and voila – i had a dinner and the next day’s lunch ready to eat. so, want to make this crunchy, fresh deliciousness for yourself?

let’s do it.

The Recipe (adapted from Martha’s Asian Chicken Salad)*

For the salad:

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 3 limes)
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 cups shredded red cabbage (about 1/2 medium head)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (about 2 large)
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted for extra crunch
  • 1 block tofu (i get mine extra firm at trader joe’s)
To make the tofu marinade:
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons ponzu (citrus-y soy sauce, check your local speciality store, it’ll be next to the soy sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
to make, combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. saute tofu with a bit of sesame oil in a skillet and let it get a bit of a skin on all sides, about five minutes. while it’s cooking, chop the rest of your salad ingredients (pre-chopped carrots make a huge difference here) and throw them together into a bowl. whisk the salad dressing together: lime juice, sesame oil, soy sauce and sugar. set aside. toast your almonds slightly in the toaster or in a skillet. watch them – they burn easily!  Image
when your tofu is golden on all sides, throw in the marinade and cook for an additional few minutes, until it’s mostly absorbed. toss the tofu onto the salad, and toss all with the dressing. sprinkle with the toasted almonds and serve immediately.
note: you can easily feed four people with this as a side dish, or two heartily as a meal. consider saving 1/2 of the salad and 1/2 of the dressing to take for lunch the next day. because the carrots and the cabbage are super crispy, it won’t wilt down like ordinary lettuce would, making it a great leftover meal. 


1 comment
  1. Alison said:

    Sounds delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

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