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Cold Silken Tofu Salad with Ginger Soy Sauce Dressing and Shaved Bonito Flakes

Image of Cold Silken Tofu Salad with Ginger Soy Sauce Dressing and Shaved Bonito Flakes
This light, refreshing salad is the perfect answer to an easy meal on sweltering summer days. No ovens, dishes or fry pans required—just mix up the Ginger Soy Sauce tofu salad dressing, plate an icy cold silken tofu curd on a serving plate, drizzle with shaved bonito flakes, slivered green onion, a light chiffonade of shiso leaves, then pour several tablespoons of the Ginger Soy Sauce Dressing over the tofu salad, and serve…15 minutes max!

Hiyayakko, the iconic style of silken Japanese tofu salads served chilled and seasoned with savory garnishes such as soy sauce, ginger and scallions, dates back to the Edo period (1600). Eaten as a light meal, appetizer or snack, Hiayakko was paired with rice or edamame for a quick summer meal. I do not recommend subbing-in soft, firm or extra-firm tofu—silken (extra-soft) tofu has a creamy, pudding-like texture that comes from its higher water content and cannot be duplicated. A texture-driven dish—the icy cold, silky soybean curd is bathed in a room temperature ginger soy sauce dressing—this complex salad is meant to literally melt on your warm tongue.

The secret ingredient in this dish is the shaved bonito flakes, which lend a deep umami flavor note to the finished dish. Do not let this requisite ingredient scare you—it does not taste “fishy.” Shaved bonito flakes are created from smoked, aged, dried and thinly-shaved skipjack tuna; the Japanese use this ingredient in the same manner Italians use anchovy paste in tomato sauce —a “secret ingredient” that imparts depth and complexity to simple dishes. While you can up the freshly grated ginger and leave out the shaved bonito flakes, that would be a shame, as this delicate dish will lack depth without it.

Cold Silken Tofu Salad with Ginger Soy Sauce Dressing and Shaved Bonito Flakes
Serves 2
Image of Cold Silken Tofu Salad with Ginger Soy Sauce Dressing and Shaved Bonito Flakes
Ingredients

For the Tofu Salad:
2 blocks silken (extra soft) organic tofu
3 Shiso (ooba) leaves, thinly sliced into a chiffonade
¼ cup shaved bonito flakes

Garnishes:
Slivered green onions
Shaved bonito flakes
Furitake seasoning
Chiffonade of Shiso leaves

For the Ginger Soy Sauce Dressing:
¼ cup Japanese soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seed oil
2 teaspoons light acacia honey (can substitute with white granulated sugar)
1 tablespoon roasted white sesame seeds
1 green onion, white and green parts
1-inch piece of fresh, thin-skinned young ginger (or peeled regular ginger), grated

Directions
Image of minced ginger
Add all ingredients to a small bowl and lightly mix with a fork until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Plating
Image of drained tofu
Carefully remove the block of tofu onto serving plate, and allow to drain for several minutes in the refrigerator. Remove tofu from fridge, and tilt plate to drain any water that has accumulated.
Image of slicing green onions
Top with slivered green onions, shiso chiffonade and shaved bonito flakes. Pour 2 tablespoons of Ginger Soy Sauce Dressing over each tofu cake and serve with steamed rice and a variety of garnishes on the side.
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