Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Five Spice Tofu Spinach Salad with Miso Dressing

It’s not often that I write a recipe for one, but the odds of me cooking for one are high. Now the odds of me making a ginormous, delicious salad....those are odds you don’t wanna mess with. While I say over and over how undervalued and underestimated good salads are, I really do think they are the bees knees and next to perfect. I don’t have that heat obsession that most people have - where any food that isn’t served hot isn’t perceived as filling. Learn a thing or two about fiber and you’ll learn your lesson about salads being filling. What I like most is that they are a hodgepodge of wonderful ingredients in a creation that at best is a reflection of your persona or at worst a compilation of stragglers in the fridge when you’re too lazy to hit up the food store. Sometimes it’s not one or the other, but both.

This recipe is written a little differently than others. Most ingredients lack measurements, because it’s totally up to you. In fact, I almost feel silly putting this up since you could substitute half of this for something else. But if this recipe gets your vegan juices flowing, my goal is accomplished. I typically choose a themed salad when making it as a main course, in this case - Asian. Sauteed tofu is all the protein you’ll need and if you add some cooked brown rice on top, this fill you further than a gritty burger. If you’ve never cooked with 5 spice, it’s a wonderful tool in the kitchen that encompasses all five flavor regimes: sweet, sour, astringent, bitter and salty. If you like Pho, you’ll definitely like the 5 spice blend. If you’ve never heard of Pho before now, quite reading and find a Vietnamese noodle shop.

I’d like to throw a tofu tip to the non-veg heads or novice cooks out there: be smart about flavor and don’t under cook the cubes. Once you’ve seasoned tofu, cook it at medium-high heat and WAIT until it’s brown. So many people tell me they can’t get tofu to taste like anything. Those are somehow the same people who enjoy moo muscle marinated in jungle juice for 4 hours. Tofu needs the same TLC, the same flavor saver - soak tofu in something saucy and spicy for an hour. In a pinch, a quick marinade (like this recipe here) can be very effective. Just make absolutely sure you cook it relatively slowly until golden brown. No white patches. No soggy spots. Tofu doesn’t have to be flavorless flab

5 Spice Tofu Spinach Salad with Miso Dressing
Serves: 1
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5-10 minutes


For the Tofu
2-3 oz Tofu
1 tsp Soy sauce
1 T. Rice vinegar
1/4 tsp. Chinese 5 spice
1/4 tsp. White pepper
1/4 tsp. Chili or sesame oil
2 T. Leeks
Cooking spray

For the Dressing
1 T. Warm water
1 tsp. Miso
2 tsp. Rice Vinegar
1/4 tsp. Sriracha
1/4 tsp. Agave

For the Salad
Large handful of spinach
Small handful arugula (optional)
Bit of cilantro, chopped
Couple of basil leaves, chopped
Carrot, thinly sliced
Cucumber, thinly sliced
Pickled Radish, thinly sliced
Broccoli, lightly steamed
Roasted Cashews


Slice tofu into 1/4-12 inch thick slices, about 2. Place on paper towel and pat dry. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and throw in tofu. Stir to completely coat with marinade. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Coat with cooking spray and add tofu to pan, reserving any remaining marinade. Saute stirring frequently until all sides are golden brown. At the last minute pour any leftover marinade in pan and remove from heat. Or just remove tofu from pan into leftover marinade.

Combine all dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.

Combine all salad ingredients on a large plate or in a large bowl. Top with tofu and drizzle miso dressing over the top. Enjoy!

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