Tofu-Dressed Salad “Shiro-ae”
This is my new comfort food. I am not exaggerating when I say that I’ve made this three times in the last two weeks. The traditional name for this dish is “shiro-ae” which roughly translates to “dressed with white tofu.” Tofu is not easy for most non-Japanese people to eat, especially when it’s been mashed, but this one is full of flavor. The one thing that takes time is grinding the sesame seeds. I find this step essential for making this salad rich and flavorful. Sesame seeds are also high in calcium.
Shiro-ae is good for breakfast in my opinion because it’s creamy. It’s the Japanese version of cottage cheese salad with fruit, except for this one is vegan. I often add dried fruit and fresh fruit; persimmon or even mango is nice and adds color. You can add a variety of vegetables of your choice, slightly cooked is best. My grandma added carrots to hers so I do the same.
Tip: To make the tofu extra creamy, remove as much water as you can from the tofu and push it through a sieve.
1 block silken tofu, soft variety
2 tablespoons dried golden raisins, moistened with a little water
1 medium carrot, sliced into thin sticks
10-12 green beans, sliced thin
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon kombu/shiitake dashi
1 tablespoon soy sauce, light-colored preferable
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons mirin
¼ teaspoon salt
1. Squeeze the tofu with a cheese cloth or paper towel a little at a time to remove excess water. (It will be impossible to remove all the water, but do what you can). The more water you remove, the more concentrated the tofu flavor will be. Push the tofu through a fine-meshed sieve to make the tofu very smooth). You can skip this step and just mash the tofu if you wish, but straining it will make the tofu more creamy.
2. Toast the sesame seeds for about 1 minute in a heated pan. Remove and grind the sesame seeds until it turns into a buttery paste.
3. Boil the carrots and green beans in water for 1 minute until crisp-tender. Drain the vegetables and quickly plunge them into a ice-water bath. When the vegetables are cool, remove it from the water.
4. Add the tofu, raisins, sesame seed paste, vegetables, dashi and the rest of the seasonings into a large bowl. Mix to combine.