Japanese salads are not usually made with raw vegetables; aemono are usually made with lightly cooked vegetables. The dressings usually do not contain oil but are prepared with vinegar, citrus juice, miso, ground nuts (walnuts), sesame, or other flavors. Shira-ae—white salad—is a traditional Japanese salad dressing in which tofu is blended with sesame paste and sometimes miso.
This salad can be made all year ’round by varying seasonal vegetables or even fruit! Konyaku, carrots, fresh or dried mushrooms (cloud ear, shiitake, shimej (use imagination!), lotus root, tomatoes, green beans, asparagus, zucchini, burdock, spinach, chrysanthemum leaves, of other leafy-green vegetables, sweet potatoes, wakame or hijiki… Mango, papaya, apple, cantaloupe, persimmon…
Green Bean, Mango, and Apple Salad with a Creamy Tofu Dressing
revised from The Japanese Kitchen
•250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit•
by Hiroko Shimbo
- ½ block firm tofu (about 7 ounces)
- 2 Tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted
- 3 Tablespoons sesame paste, preferably Japanese
- 1 Tablespoon usukuchi shoyu (light colored soy sauce)
(or regular soy sauce)
- 1 Tablespoon mirin (sweet cooking wine)
Blanch the tofu for 20 seconds, drain and place it in a tightly woven cloth. Squeeze to remove excess water. Note: I really squeezed the tofu dry; after putting this recipe together, it seems that you should really leave the tofu a little damp.
In a suribachi (or other mortar) grind the toasted sesame seeds fine. Add the sesame paste, and grind until the mixture is well combined. Add the tofu, and grind until the mixture is creamy and fluffy. Note: This is where my overly squeezed tofu failed to fluff, so I had to add some water.
Mix in the shoyu, mirin, and salt to taste. The dressing can be covered and refrigerated for use later in the day.
- 9 ounces green beans (trimmed), zucchini, or asparagus
- 1 mango, cut into cubes
- 1 crisp, tart apple, cored, cut into ½-inch cubes and tossed with lemon juice
Parboil the green beans for 2 minutes. Drain and plunge it into cold water to stop the cooking. Wipe it dry and cut into 1-inch pieces. (Ms. Shimbo says 1/2″)
Have the fruit ready. You want the salad ingredients dry so the dressing doesn’t become diluted, so I had to drain the juice from the papaya.
Immediately before serving, toss the salad ingredients with the dressing. Serve in individual bowls, or place it next to grilled fish or meat on a plate.
You can use this dressing (or dressing plus salad) in a sandwich or wrap.
Or stuff aburra agé pockets for a neat appetizer.
Or stuff a lightly grilled Japanese green pepper.
I’d recommend this book to vegetarians, fans of Japanese cooking, tofu lovers, and anyone who seeks a variety of new ideas for dinner:
The book of tofu: protein source of the future– now!, Volume 1
William Shurtleff, Akiko Aoyagi
Ten Speed Press, 1998 – 336 pages
Historical, nutritional, and culinary information about East Asia’s most important soybean food accompanies over five hundred recipes for dishes using its seven varieties