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).

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