What I love about tofu is its versatility. Whether tofu is pan-fried, fried, baked, or simmered in a sauce, tofu can be processed into a variety of textures and take on any flavor. One method of preparing tofu that I don’t think gets enough attention is serving soft or silky tofu as a hearty cold dish.
I first discovered cold tofu dishes when I was studying in Nanjing, China 15 years ago. In restaurants, a flavorful soy sauce mix is often drizzled over sliced, chilled tofu. It was the perfect dish on hot and humid days in Nanjing.
This cold tofu dish is inspired by all the meals I ate when I was a graduate student in China. I love eating it chilled so much that I can easily eat it all by myself at once!
INGREDIENTS FOR COLD TOFU DISH
WHAT KIND OF TOFU TO USE?
Cold tofu dishes are best served with a variety of tofu that has a silky mouthfeel. That’s why I recommend using soft or silky tofu, preferably one that’s refrigerated in a plastic bowl. I don’t recommend using firmer types of tofu (from firm to super firm) as the tofu curd has too much texture.
You don’t need to further cook the tofu before preparing this dish. Tofu is usually fully cooked before the packaging process. Simply drain the block of tofu and set aside while you prepare the sauce.
For the sauce, grate 2 cloves of garlic with a microplane zester (affiliate link). Mix the garlic with rice vinegar and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes to take some of the raw bite out of the garlic. You can also use apple cider vinegar instead of rice vinegar.
Next, add 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 1/2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce (see recipe here), and a small dash of sesame oil. I like to use my teriyaki sauce in this recipe because it adds savory, sweet, and umami flavor all at the same time. If you don’t want to make teriyaki sauce for this recipe, you can increase the amount of soy sauce to 2 tablespoons and add 3/4 to 1 teaspoon sugar, honey, maple syrup, or any sweetener of your choice.
Taste the sauce and adjust it to your liking. Don’t forget to spread the sauce on a block of unflavored tofu. So don’t worry if the sauce seems a bit salty at this point. If the sauce is too flavorful for your taste, add a little more sweetener.
I recommend topping the cold tofu with toasted sesame seeds, scallions, and mashed fried onions for some crunch and extra flavor. Gochugaru and Furikake are also great additions!
Can you make this dish ahead of time?
While you can make the sauce ahead of time, I don’t recommend putting the dish together until you’re ready to serve.
MORE TOFU RECIPES
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Cold tofu with spicy garlic sauce
Cold tofu is served with a spicy garlic sauce and garnished with spring onions, crispy fried onions and sesame seeds. It’s an addictive 15 minute meal that can be served as an appetizer or side dish!
- 1 (14 to 16 ounces) block of soft or silky tofu, (see note 1)
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 2 teaspoon rice vinegar, (see note 2)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoon Teriyaki sauce, (see note 3)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon Sugar, Optional
- 1 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoon thinly sliced spring onions
- 1/4 Cup (18g) Fried onions
Drain the block of tofu and remove it from the plastic tray. (See Note 4) Place the tofu on a chopping block and let it rest to allow the tofu to release some of its moisture.
Using a microplane zester, grate two cloves of garlic. Place the garlic in a small bowl and mix with the rice vinegar. Let that sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Then mix in the soy sauce, teriyaki sauce and sesame oil. Give the sauce a taste. Add the sugar (or other sweetener) if you find the sauce too flavorful (I usually do).
Use a mortar and pestle or your hands to gently crush the fried onions.
Carefully place the tofu in a shallow bowl. Using a spoon, drizzle about 2/3 of the soy sauce mixture over the tofu. I like to save some sauce to spoon over the tofu chunks as we eat.
Top the tofu with sesame seeds, chopped spring onions and mashed fried onions. Again, I usually save some scallions and fried onions as a side dish to top the tofu chunks while eating. Use a large spoon to serve the cold tofu. Enjoy with jasmine rice, brown rice, basmati rice, or my egg fried rice!
- Soft/Silky Tofu: Cold tofu dishes are best served with a variety of tofu that has a silky mouthfeel. That’s why I recommend using soft or silky tofu, preferably one that’s refrigerated in a plastic bowl.
- vinegar substituteNote: If you don’t have rice vinegar, you can use apple cider vinegar instead.
- With teriyaki sauce: I like to use my teriyaki sauce in this recipe because it adds a savory, sweet, and umami flavor at the same time. If you don’t want to make teriyaki sauce for this recipe, you can increase the amount of soy sauce to 2 tablespoons and add 1 teaspoon of sugar, honey, maple syrup, or other sweetener of your choice.
- Remove the tofu from the tray: Some tofu brands package their soft tofu to fit snugly against the plastic tray, making it difficult to remove the tofu in one piece. If this happens to you, turn the container over so the plastic shell is facing up. Cut off the corners of the tray with scissors. Then cut along the top edges of the tray and remove the lid. Finally, peel off the sides of the tray in one piece.
Portion: 2portions | Calories: 180kcal | Carbohydrates: 6.2G | Protein: 19.3G | Fat: 8.7G | Saturated Fatty Acids: 1.2G | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 574mg | Fiber: 1.3G | Sugar: 3.2G