We're eating light for the rest of this week as Thanksgiving was really food overload as usual! So we made one of my favorite Tofu Salad recipes. You may recognize this dish from a Chinese Restaurant - it is often on the menu and I have found that this same salad - the carrots and celery minus the tofu is often served as a free salad before the meal. It's a simple and delicious salad that is seasoned lightly with toasted Sesame Oil, salt, sugar and Szechuan Peppercorns. These add a piquant flavor and pleasantly numbing feeling, but don't use too much. It is also an acquired taste. You can make this salad spicy instead with Chili Sauce if you prefer that flavor or you can add some green onion tops. As with most Chinese Salads, the vegetables are blanche lightly and the tofu is the pressed kind - I used a spiced pressed tofu as I like the dark color from the marination in soy sauce and I think it has more flavor. But like some of the restaurants, you can leave out the tofu altogether and it is still a lovely refreshing salad and a good side dish to a heavier Asian meal.
Carrot, Celery and Tofu Salad
2 stalks of celery, ends trimmed and cut into julienned pieces about 2 inches long
2 carrots, trimmed, peeled and cut into julienned pieces about 2 inches long
2 pieces firm pressed tofu, sliced into thin shreds
1 Tablespoon Toasted Sesame Oil
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Sugar
About 5 Szechuan Peppercorns, toasted lightly in a pan and ground in a mortar and pestle
Optional: 1 /4 teaspoon Red Chili Flakes or a small amount of shredded green onion tops
In a large bowl, mix together the celery and carrots. Cover with boiling water and let soften for 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly and add tofu shreds. Toss with Sesame Oil, salt, sugar and Szechuan Peppercorns. Refrigerate until cold.
Five Element Analysis
Carrots belong to the Earth Element and Celery comes from the Wood Element so those elements are covered. Tofu belongs to the Metal Element and the Soy Sauce in it gives it a bit of the Water Element as well. The Sesame Oil adds more Water and the Szechuan Peppercorns add some Fire. The Fire Element could use a bit more support so be sure to serve this with something else Fiery (even tea will do) or add in those Chili Flakes to create balance.