When you think of Chinese food, you don’t usually think of cold or raw vegetable salads. That’s because most of what the world is familiar with is southern Chinese food – predominantly Cantonese cuisine, where vegetables are always cooked, either by blanching or stir-frying.
However, in northern China, you will find many varieties of cold salads. My favourite when I lived there was a raw shredded cabbage salad with thin slices of jellyfish (and sometimes shredded chicken too), tossed in a vinegar sauce. It’s a simple dish, but so delicious and refreshing.
Another popular cold dish is Shredded Tofu Salad (凉拌豆腐丝 liángbàn dòufusī), which is one of my favourites, although I never thought of making it at home. That’s until I came across a 2-for-1 promotion at the Asian supermarket across the street from me, and I bought 2 packs of dried bean curd (tofu) strips.
This is a tasty, quick and easy recipe that’s great when you’re short on time but still want a healthy, protein-packed meal. It’s like eating low-carb, gluten-free noodles! The sauce can actually be made ahead of time and refrigerated. You can also add a bit more or less cucumber and carrots, depending on your preference. Of course, fresh tofu strips can be used too. I would still suggest blanching it for a few seconds before preparing the salad.
Did you make this recipe?
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SHREDDED TOFU SALAD
170g dried (or 400g fresh) bean curd/tofu strips
1/2 a small cucumber, julienned
1 small carrot, julienned
3 red chillies, deseeded and chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
small handful of cilantro, roughly chopped and divided
2/3 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
3 to 3-1/2 teaspoons chilli powder
6 to 7 tablespoons vegetable oil
2/3 teaspoon sugar
2-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1-3/4 tablespoons Zhenjiang/Chinkiang vinegar (镇江香醋)
1. First prepare the sauce by combining the chillies, garlic, half the cilantro, salt, sesame seeds and chilli powder in a small heat-proof bowl.
2. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, then pour the hot oil into the bowl of ingredients. Add sugar, soy sauce and vinegar. Mix well. Set aside.
3. Boil some water in a large pot, and blanch the dried tofu strips for about 2 minutes, until softened (if using fresh tofu strips, blanch it for just a few seconds).
4. Remove tofu strips to a colander. Run it under cold water, and drain well.
5. Transfer tofu strips to a large bowl. Add in the cucumber, carrot and remaining cilantro. Pour the prepared sauce over. Mix well and enjoy!