“If turkey vultures think it’s too warm to hunt, who am I to disagree?”
Tofu ranks high on my list of pantry staples. There are always 2 or 3 packages in my cart on every grocery run. The best parts (my grammar teacher may remind me that the superlative of good describes a singular noun but hear me out) are how versatile it is and how easy it is to make a meal of tofu. Tofu is cooperative and forgiving.
That summer afternoon, the heat was weighing down relentlessly. The shelter dogs that I were walking were lethargic and listless, and these furry love-dispensers are always excited to be out by the bay. Even the turkey vultures, usually seen lazily circling in the easy thermals in late afternoon, were mostly resting on lofty branches in the shade. If these top predators decided it’s too warm to hunt, who am I to disagree? What I needed was something cold and preferably quick to make. No heating up the stove and stoking the fire, so to speak.
This cold tofu is so easy and quick to make. It took just 10 minutes to assemble. No oil, no cooking, no messy cleanup. A perfect appetizer or side dish for the dog days of summer. I happened to have bonito flakes lying around but it’s easily substituted with a teaspoon of salmon roe, salted duck egg yolk (an up-and-coming favorite in Singapore these days it seems), toasted sesame seeds, chopped salted peanuts, or just a generous bunch of chopped or ribboned green onions. Anything goes here. See Notes in recipe for more options including vegetarian substitutions.
As testament to its versatility, tofu holds up in hot and cold preparations. In cooler weather, I would go with a warmer dish, steaming the tofu and topping it with something hot like Steamed Tofu with Ground Pork and Gogi Berries or the very popular Mapo Tofu.
What’s your favorite summer quick-fix meal?
- 1 slab silken tofu, chilled
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp rice wine
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp bonito flakes (see Notes for vegetarian options)
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- ¼" ginger, grated
- Remove tofu from carton and rinse gently.
- Pat tofu dry with kitchen towels.
- Mix soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil together.
- Drizzle sauce over tofu.
- Top with bonito flakes, green onion and ginger.
Other vegetarian topping ideas include a teaspoon of salted duck egg yolk, century eggs, toasted sesame seeds, chopped salted peanuts, nori seaweed, fried ribboned ginger or just a generous bunch of chopped or ribboned green onions.
Non-vegetarian substitutes include salmon skin, salmon roe, pork or fish floss.
(Thanks to a reader and my chef cousin for sharing ideas!)