Category Archives: Vegetables


Recipe: Seared Tofu Salad

Mellow tofu, and sweet bell peppers and carrots balance the zesty ginger and onions in this colorful and flavorful salad. I served this salad with a homey side of glutinous rice cooked with azuki beans, and can see it pairing well with other whole grains or a hearty bread, like the buttermilk rye bread I made in week 2 of my Whole Grains and Tofu Challenge. Plan ahead to give the tofu time to rest and marinade.

Recipe: Seared Tofu Salad

Makes 4 servings


  • 14 ounces firm tofu, cut into ¾ inch thick slices, then each slice cut into 6 pieces
  • 8 ounces salad greens
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 6 ounces mixed baby greens
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium orange bell pepper
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges (optional)

For the marinade:

    • ¼ cup sake
    • 2 tablespoons low sodium tamari
    • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
    • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
    • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
    • 4 scallions, sliced thin on an angle

For the dressing:

  • 1 teaspoon onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • ½ tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium tamari


Remove excess water from the tofu: Place tofu in one layer on a dish towel, cover with another towel, then lay a cutting board on top. If you have a light cutting board, add a frying pan or a couple of cans on top. Allow the tofu to rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the marinade: In a flat bottomed casserole just big enough to fit the tofu in one layer, combine the ingredients for the marinade. After the tofu has rested, transfer it to the casserole in one layer. Marinate the tofu for approximately 45 minutes, turning occasionally.

Heat oil in a griddle pan or frying pan, preferably cast iron, over medium low heat, until very hot, almost smoking. Add tofu to the pan in one layer, reserving the marinade. Sear the tofu until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes, then flip it over and cook the other side. Remove the tofu from the pan.

Make the dressing: Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake to mix thoroughly. Alternatively, whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Place greens and carrots in a large bowl. Remove the seeds and ribs from the bell peppers, cut them into thin strips lengthwise, and add them to the greens. Add the reserved marinade and the salad dressing and toss.

Divide the greens onto 4 plates, and top with tofu. Tuck a wedge of lime (if using) on the side of each plate and serve.

Inspired by “Grilled Tofu Steak Salad” in The Wagamama Cookbook by Hugo Arnold (Kyle Books, 2004).


Recipe: Bok choy with steamed chicken and shiitake mushrooms

[Go to my short story, Cooking Lesson, which features this recipe.]

Recipe: Bok choy with steamed chicken and shiitake mushrooms

Serves 4


  • 8 whole, dried shiitake mushrooms
  • boiling-hot water
  • ¼ cup thin soy sauce, low-sodium if possible
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 scallions, sliced into pea-sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 8 pieces chicken thighs
  • 8-12 small heads baby bok choy, washed well, ends trimmed, and quartered lengthwise partway
  • for serving: cooked rice


Place the dried mushrooms in a medium bowl and pour about 2 or 3 cups of boiling-hot water over them. Allow them to soften, about 30 minutes, adding more hot water if necessary. When the mushrooms are soft, discard the water. Squeeze out the extra water from the mushrooms, cut off the stems, and slice the caps in half, or, if large, in thirds.

In another bowl, mix together the soy sauce, sherry, cornstarch, sesame oil, scallions, and ginger. Pull the skins off the chicken thighs, and trim off any excess fat. Cut each thigh into three pieces, once lengthwise, then crosswise through the bone. Put the chicken in the bowl with the soy sauce mixture, and stir them together until they are well-combined. Marinate at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.

Add water to a pan with a steamer or wok with a steamer rack; bring water to a boil, covered. Add the mushrooms to the chicken and stir to combine. If using a pan and steamer, place a round, straight-sided cake pan or pie plate inside the steamer, then transfer the chicken, mushrooms, and sauce to the pan or plate. Place the steamer on the pan of boiling water, and cover. If using a wok with a steamer rack, transfer the chicken, mushrooms, and sauce to the cake pan or pie plate. Carefully place the pan or plate in the wok, and cover. Steam until the chicken is just cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add the bok choy to the boiling water, pushing them into the water and stirring them around gently. Return the water to a boil, and cook the bok choy until bright green and still firm, about 3-4 minutes. Drain in a colander.

Carefully remove the chicken in its cake pan or pie plate from the steamer or wok. Arrange the bok choy around the edge of a serving plate. Spoon the chicken and sauce in the center of the plate. Serve hot, with rice.


Recipe: Thai-style red curry with chicken

Here is another recipe that uses the grilled or roasted chicken breast slices like those featured in my book, Twice As Nice. Thai red curry is usually served in restaurants with roast duck; using chicken makes it easier on your wallet and on your waistline. Go ahead and use roast duck in this recipe for a special treat! The recipe calls for some ingredients that may be more difficult to find in a standard grocery store (I’ve listed some substitutions), but otherwise, this dish is easy to make, and it’s delicious! This recipe makes four generous portions.

Ingredients for Thai-style red curry with chicken

  • 1⅓ cups coconut cream
  • 4 tablespoons Thai Kitchen brand (or your favorite brand) red curry paste, or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, minced, or zest of 1 lime, minced, plus the juice of the lime
  • 1 medium Chinese eggplant, cut in half the long way, then sliced into ½-inch pieces crosswise
  • 1 (15-ounce) can light coconut milk
  • 7 ounces snap peas
  • 1½ cups pineapple, from a 20-ounce can of sliced pineapple, each slice cut into 8 wedges (save the remainder for another use)
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 12 ounces grilled or roasted chicken breast slices, frozen
  • ¾ cup Thai basil leaves, roughly chopped, loosely packed

For serving:

  • Cooked jasmine rice


Heat a wok or heavy saucepan over medium heat, until hot, but not smoking. Carefully add the coconut cream to the wok: the coconut cream may spurt when it first touches the hot surface of the pan. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes. Add the curry paste, fish sauce, sugar, and kaffir lime leaves to the wok; stir, and simmer for 2 more minutes.

Stir in the eggplant and the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the snap peas, pineapple, cherry tomatoes, and the chicken. Turn the heat up to medium, bring to a low boil, then turn the heat back down to low, and simmer for 3-4 minutes, just until the chicken is heated through.

Serve hot, over rice.