Thursday, March 1, 2007

Warm Veggie Salad with Umeboshi Dressing

I remember the first time I tried tofu. I was about 22 and on a diet. The recipe was for a tofu stir-fry. Health magazines were raving about tofu and soy at the time so I gave it in try. I fell in love.

But since then I have found it hard to find tofu recipes I really like. Tofu takes on the flavor of sauce (which is probably why the stir-fry was so good). But many recipes I have tried are very light and healthy so they keep the purity of the tofu. And I just don't like the taste on its own. But the warm tofu and steamed vegetable salad with plum dressing from the Japanese Light cookbook is a keeper. It is a perfect mix of light vegetables that nicely compliment the lightness of the tofu.

The dressing is made from pickled plums. They may sound gross but to me that sound interesting. Known as umeboshi, you can find these in an Asian market. They are very small, about the size of large grapes. This recipe calls for them to be mashed and I found that a bit hard to do. There are pits inside and I just mashed them up with a fork as best as I could. But the flavor went perfect with the veggies. The dressing was light and not oily at all. I really enjoyed this meal - and I learned a new way to cook spinach!

Warm Tofu and Steamed Vegetable Salad with Plum Dressing

1 pound soft silken tofu, drained
1 pound spinach
8 ounces bean sprouts, roots trimmed
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into matchstick-sized pieces
8 fresh shitake mushrooms, stems removed, cups sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil

for the umeboshi dressing
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 umeboshi (pickled plums), finely mashed
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 garlic clove, peeled and grated
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wrap the tofu with paper towels and let drain for 30 minutes. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and add the spinach, then immediately turn off the heat and drain the spinach. Squeeze the excess water from it. Steam the rest of the vegetables and cover them to keep warm.

Mix together all the ingredients for the umeboshi dressing and set aside.

Cut the drained tofu into 1/2-inch cubes. Arrange the vegetables and tofu in a large warm serving dish. Put the vegetable oil and sesame oil in a metal cooking spoon and heat until the oil mixture is almost smoking hot. Pour it over the salad and add the dressing. Toss and serve immediately.


Jenifer said...

Oooooh that looks good. I found you via a thread of a thread of a thread about ummmm FRIDGES! Yes, I'm here to officially challenge you to show your fridge!

Also, I'm a huge fan of food and love to find new, healthy recipes! Keep a blogging!

tigerfish said...

You like to use Asian ingredients, don't you? Your recipes always come in a creative twist. Delicious fusion food!

rachel said...

Jennifer - I'll try to find this weekend. How can I not if i've been challenged!

Tigerfish - I do like to use Asian ingredients. I'm always trying to learn about them. I am always so amazed and how great things taste at Asian restaurants and I'm determined that I should be able to make them myself at home. It's not so easy though. Right now I'm working through two new Asian Cookbooks: Japanese Light and Revolutionary Chinese Cooking. I'm learning alot from both.

Rachel Rubin said...

Hi Rachel !
Just wanted to say hello, I too am Rachel Rubin and I cook as well! Check out my website
crazy huh!
Everything looks great!