I love tofu. Love it, love it, love it. And as an enthusiastic member of the pro-tofu camp, I just don't understand why some people dislike the stuff so much, they can't help but roll their eyes at the very mention of the word. Where does this tofu-hatred come from? I mean, we're not talking about something that's bitter or fishy or stinky or objectionable in any obvious way, really. It's bland, true, but possesses a remarkable ability to soak up whatever flavors we choose to throw in the pot (or salad bowl) with it.
I blame tofurkey, tofu dogs, tofu chicken-flavored ham rolls—and every other effort to turn soybean curd into something it's not—for tofu's undeserved bad reputation. Just because you can mold it into various shapes and inject it with, um, faux meat flavorings, doesn't mean you should. When you treat something as little more than a pale meat substitute, is it any wonder that it comes up short? Let's be clear: tofu does not make a credible hot dog. Sure, you can slap it on the grill, slather it with mustard, and wrap it in a bun—but don't expect it to taste good.
All ranting aside, I say let tofu be tofu. Embrace its jiggly texture and creamy bite. Jazz it up with bright, bold flavors. Served cold, it is a delicious summertime treat—light and refreshing, yet substantial too. This simple summery salad, a recipe my mom's been making for years, features tuna, spicy watercress, and a yummy sesame-garlic dressing; I hope you'll agree with me that it's a excellent start in restoring tofu's good name.
MOM'S TOFU SALAD
Dressing: 1/2 cup soy sauce 1/2 cup neutral vegetable oil 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil 2 cloves garlic, chopped
Combine ingredients in a large glass measuring cup. Microwave for about 45 seconds to cook garlic a bit. Let cool. Whisk to blend ingredients before using.
Salad: 1 1-pound tub Japanese-style "regular" (medium) tofu* 1 can tuna 1 bunch watercress, roughly chopped Dressing
Drain tofu well on a few layers of paper towels. Drain tuna. Cut tofu into 1-inch cubes. Arrange tofu on serving plate, scatter tuna on the tofu, and top with watercress. Spoon dressing over the salad (begin with about half, and add more to taste).
*Don't use the (icky) shelf-stable vacuum-packed tofu—use the kind that comes in a tub.
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