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cool it with tofu

Recipe: cold tofu salad

I’ve received a lot of requests lately for foods I’ve posted pictures of without corresponding recipes. I will get on those in due time. There just happens to be a huge backlog of recipes I need to post and I’m cranking them out daily (have you noticed?) because I have another chemo on the horizon. But it’s my last frakking one! Can I get a w00t! ?? Hell Effingham yeah, people.

So just sit tight and keep your pants on.

I know some folks get that sour-lemon look on their face when they hear the word tofu. Those people can stick it. If you know how to prepare tofu properly it is teh delish. And yes, I know how to prepare it properly. I’m Chinese after all, and I wield a big knife.


tofu, green onions, preserved mustard green, pork floss



I spent my fair share of childhood summer days sweating my brains out running around like a maniac in the sweltering and oppressive Virginia heat. On occasion I’d come inside on weekends and find my dad preparing a refreshing lunch of cold, silken tofu tossed with loads of goodies. I’ve never had this in Chinese restaurants, so I am just assuming it’s my dad’s concoction. Either way, I loved it. Like Diane, I too am a salt girl rather than a sweets girl. Salt grrls rule. I just call it cold tofu, but I suppose it’s really cold tofu salad or some such thing.

on the left: pork floss, on the right: preserved mustard green



I’m posting the packaging for the less common ingredients because if you’re anything like me, you can’t read Chinese and you may not know how to find these things in an Asian market. Sometimes I have to ask the lady who runs our local Asian market in Boulder and she shouts at me (that’s her only volume though, it’s not that she hates me – she actually likes me). I’m trying to save you guys from the shouting.

diced silken

minced green onions

minced preserved mustard green



I always use silken tofu in this dish as the firm stuff just has the wrong texture. The preserved mustard green is a salty, crunchy sort of pickled vegetable. Pork sung (pork floss) is really finely shredded dried pork with a sweetish flavor to it. I like to eat the pork sung with congee (rice porridge) and loads of chili radishes and any other spicy vegetables. Love the spicy. Give it to me.

sprinkle the vegetables over the tofu



Cold tofu salad is a totally simple recipe. Top the tofu cubes with the minced onions and mustard green. Pour a little sesame oil for flavor (use chili oil if you’re my dad) and some soy sauce. Sprinkle the pork sung on last or else it becomes a matted mess that soaks up the soy sauce and becomes unbearably salty.

top it off with soy sauce



Now, for the more daring eaters, you can add some diced thousand year egg. If you’re not familiar with this preserved duck egg, don’t freak out. It’s not really a thousand years old. It has been preserved in a mixture of ash, salt, lime, and other stuff which raises the pH and transforms the sucker into this:

you were expecting?



My dad loves to dice this up and add it to the cold tofu salad. I am not such a fan of the egg and I’ve given it several chances, believe you me! I’ll list this as optional. I opt out and enjoy my refreshing salad sans green and black stinky egg.

great in the heat of summer



Cold Tofu Salad
[print recipe]

8 oz. silken tofu, diced into 1 inch cubes
2 stalks green onions, minced
2 tbsps preserved mustard green, minced
2 tbsps pork sung
1 tsp sesame oil
1-2 tbsps soy sauce
1 thousand year duck egg (optional)

Combine ingredients and serve cold.

43 nibbles at “cool it with tofu”

  1. Kitt says:

    Yum! The eggs aren’t bad but they just look so squicky that I have a hard time eating them unless I have to to be polite.

    Showing the packaging is very helpful!

  2. Mrs Erg├╝l says:

    Woah, childhood memory floods my memory! Porridge with pork floss. Yum! I didn’t liked the egg when I was a kid, but now loves it! I add loads of it in whenever my mum cooks a whole pot of porridge with so much treasure in it, just like how you put it! And I think sesame oil is the best oil on the earth! Its fragrance is just…. very nice!

  3. manggy says:

    I’m a sweet guy, what can I say ;) But we do intersect in our spiciness! Spicy (people) rule :) I feel exactly the way Kitt does about thousand year eggs (here we call them “Century Eggs”, which of course freaked me out as a kid). Yum, sulfur, haha :D I am not averse to tofu, but I find that in preparing it, most recipes tend to add a lot of salt to compensate for the lack of flavor :/ but at least it’s a very good sponge of flavor. My two favorite ways to have it are Agedashi Dofu (SWEET) and Mapo (Mabo? uh..) Tofu (SPICY). How typical, eh?

    I actually withold posting when you’re on chemo.. What fun is it not to hear from you? :( But YAY! It’s the last cycle! Hell Effingham Yeah indeed, whatever an effingham is!

  4. peabody says:

    MMM, I am a huge lover of the fu, my hubby not so much. I love it deep fried with salt and pepper. I have only had it cold as like egg salad substitute, never in salad. I am intrigued so I will have to give it a try..minus the duck eggs.

  5. Laura @ HungryAndFrozen says:

    I’m a sweet AND salty gal…which would explain the size o’ my thighs. I like to eat everything. I rather like tofu, highly underrated stuff that it is! That egg actually looks as though it has been sitting around for a thousand years. amazing. Good luck on your last batch of chemo :)

  6. Francesco says:

    I adore those eggs …. even just with some rice (boiled or in porridge)

  7. Bridget says:

    Tofu is unpopular because people try to pass it off as a substitute for tastier, fattier ingredients like cheese and meat. But when tofu is used where it belongs, it’s so good.

    I used it in your moo shu last week (as a substitute for the pork, so I suck, but on the other hand, tofu does make sense in moo shu). I couldn’t find (an asian grocery store to buy) dried tofu, so I just bought firm stuff, pressed it to remove water, cut it into strips, soaked it in the soy sauce/sesame oil/cornstarch mixture, and added it to the stirfry sort of early in the process so it could get a little crispy. It was so good.

  8. dhanggit says:

    your photos as usual made me drooool!!! i love tofu too bad its not always easy to find them in the city i live!! anyways my eyes could feast on your recipes!!

  9. Eileen says:

    w00t! If i could, I would have put this in 80 point!

    I sure hope you feel the collective support of your readers & fans. One more chemo and then the joys of summer produce.

    You go girl!

    I have to say, as adventurous an eater as I am, I never buy tofu, probably because I’m not sure what to do with it. Well, you’ve eliminated THAT excuse!! Bet you never considered buying tofu a daring act, but for some it is. I will buy some and try your salad. The eggs, though, can wait a bit. :-)

  10. mimi says:

    congrats to your last treatment! just in time for the rejuvenating days of summer (yeah, i know you planned it this way, how smart!! hehe)

    and if i could have a nickel for every time i heard someone say “but tofu has no flavor!” i’d be a rich girl indeed. this looks like a lovely dish, even if i do prefer my tofu cooked.

  11. Lan says:

    i heart tofu. i am not so sure about the egg tho.

    i am glad that you’re almost done with your treatment. hope you are feeling well today.

  12. Christine says:

    Jen – One of the Korean restaurants here serves a side dish of tofu that is very similar to this. It’s lovely and so refreshing in the summer – just as you said. In the hot Cali summer, my mom used to make a quick snack of tofu cubes sprinkled with sugar. It may seem a bit odd, but I still love to eat that whenever it gets warm (which seems like never ever around here!)

  13. taste memory girl says:

    anything with green onions….I’m korean – and love to chop + mince too….saw your minced green onions and I thought I did, same technique (hah!)

    good looking post + recipe!

  14. Carmen says:

    Mmmm, I love this with the egg! Just a personal preference, of course, I’ve always loved the thousand-year-old egg, especially in congee. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe, I make something very similar and it’s a great summer dish. I’ve never added the pork floss before and will have to try it next time.

    I’ve been reading your site for ages, but have never commented, wanted to come out of lurking status to CONGRATULATE you on your last chemo coming up – awesome!!!

  15. diva says:

    amazing….i love tofu salad. and this just looks too good to resist. :)

  16. Amy says:

    *high five* Chinese + big knife = win. This is one of my favorite tofu dishes. I agree, you have to use silken tofu for this dish. I have to have lots of century eggs though. :) mmm!

  17. Mollie says:

    Yeah, I gotta go with you on skipping the egg…

    Last chemo? Rock on girl! :)

  18. cindy says:

    Those eggs are frightening this white girl right now.

  19. Antonio Tahhan says:

    I want one of those ceramic knives so, so badly!! I might just get one after I’m done moving into my new apt.
    ps. yea… you read my mind with that duck egg, haha!

  20. adam says:

    omg Kyocera ceramics is the best thing that has ever happened to the world of cutlery. So amazing, you have good taste. : )

  21. Anne says:

    mmm i absolutely love thousand year old egg and tofu! so this recipe looks absolutely divine to me. i’ll leave out the green onions though, not a huge fan of those at all. and i just so happen to have all the ingredients at home!

  22. Karen says:

    My dad also makes the exact same thing… well not exactly… he uses oyster sauce instead of soy sauce! Try it, it’s really good…

  23. jenyu says:

    Kitt – I find the taste to be a bit much for me.

    Mrs E – yup, I grew up on congee instead of Frosted Flakes for brekkie.

    Mark – ha ha – you’re very sweet :) I love Agedashi tofu, but never considered it sweet. I guess it *does* have a sweet component to it when I’ve had it at sushi bars. Yummmm! Mapu tofu is also a favorite of mine. I didn’t know you stopped posting during my chemo! Aww… you really are very sweet. xxoo (Effingham is actually a town someplace in the middle of the country, but I like to use it interchangeably with frak, fuck, fricking, freaking, etc.)

    Peabody – the fu? you’re a riot! The eggs scare me.

    Laura – yeah, those eggs actually get preserved for a few weeks or months… but that’s long enough for me ;) thanks!

    Francesco – you’re tastes are more sophisticated than mine, my friend!! :)

    Bridget – yup, I think a lot of people just don’t know how to prepare it properly. I love crispy, fried tofu. I guess I love crispy fried anything…

    Dhanggit – thanks :)

    Eileen – thank you, I will hold of proper celebration until I’m over this hump because I think this one will be a doozy. And yeah, one step at a time… no rush on the eggs :)

    Mimi – I usually like my tofu cooked (oh, so many delicious ways…) but this one is awesome to be sure!

    Lan – I don’t heart the egg :( Thanks!

    Christine – ooh, sugar? I guess that isn’t so strange though, because soybean milk (the real kind that you get in Asian markets) can be sweet or salty and it tastes just like tofu! Now that I know you definition of warm (75), I’m wondering when you’ll be able to indulge in summer – August? ;)

    TMG – thank you!

    Carmen – glad you came out of lurker status and thanks for the sweet comment. Next time I get stuck with 1000-year eggs, I will be looking for you!

    Diva – great!

    Amy – oh you guys who love those eggs ;)

    Mollie – fingers crossed! I think this one will be tough, but at least when it’s over, it will be over.

    Cindy – they frighten this Asian babe too.

    Antonio – the knife is sweeeet.

    Adam – ha, thanks! My parents gave it to me. They have a bigger one at their house. Acorn… tree…

    Anne – wow, you have the 1000 year eggs at home? You’re for real, lady!

    Karen – ooh, good thought!

  24. Kevin says:

    Tofu certainly would help to cool you down on a warm summer day. The pork floss sounds really interesting.

  25. Jin says:

    This sounds pretty close to the Japanese preparation of hiyayakko, or cold tofu salad. Have you had that before?

    You cube tofu, top with thin sticks of ginger and minced scallions, pour some soy sauce over it, and sprinkle with sesame seeds and katsuobushi (the dried bonita flakes). Yours sounds delicious, especially with the pork floss. I have a friend (mom from Shanghai) who makes mashed tofu salad with firm tofu, soy sauce, sesame oil, and a thousand year egg.

    Last chemo, congratulations!

  26. jenyu says:

    Kevin – I bet you can find it at one of your Asian markets easily. Give it a try, I think you’ll like it!

    Jin – Oh, I haven’t had that before. Sounds great! Thank you – I’m giddy at the thought of it being over (although not at the thought of going through another one!)

  27. Mrs Ergul says:

    Yeah! The Chinese way, isn’t it?!

  28. Shoshanna says:

    You transported me back to my childhood Jen…the preserved mustard greens and pork floss were a staple in my house. Mmmm…I haven’t seen this recipe before but will definitely give it a try. Sounds absolutely delish!

  29. White On Rice Couple says:

    Congrats on the last chemo! Tofu is tricky to like, especially if you didn’t grow up eating it. Your preparation of this delish tofu can get the haters to cross over. We need more recipes like this!

  30. jenyu says:

    Mrs. Ergul – you betchya!

    Shoshanna – Great! I hope you like it!

    WoRC – I’m still waiting to try your tofu fries recipe – as soon as my tastebuds can appreciate them properly!

  31. Maryuan says:

    I love this tofu salad! I’ve never had it with pork floss, but will definitely try that because everything is better with dried pork, lard and msg. I do add finely diced jalapenos to bring out the sweat.

  32. Y says:

    Never was a big fan of those eggs, but that kind of tofu, I love.

  33. jenyu says:

    Mary – ha ha, that sounds good. I love a little chili-garlic paste in my Chinese food :)

    Y – yeah, the eggs I can do without, but tofu is akin to comfort food for me!

  34. ricotta spinach (and tofu) ravioli « The Way the Cookie Crumbles says:

    [...] while ago, I wrote a comment on someone else’s blog about how tofu’s bad reputation comes from people trying to [...]

  35. em says:

    Looks great! Thanks for the label shots. I’ll take a pass on the scarey egg though. My beloved brought a great cold tofu recipe as part of her u-haul dowry. She received it from her first ex’s father in a Texas far away. . .

    Doug’s cold tofu salad:
    1 package cold firm tofu, cubed (what i usually have on hand)
    1 bunch scallions, minced
    1-inch or so fresh ginger, grated
    3-4 Tbsp. soy sauce
    About 1/4 C chopped peanuts, more if you love peanuts
    Marinate in fridge until very cold or consume immediately.

  36. jenyu says:

    Em – thanks for the recipe, sounds good!

  37. Angela says:

    Thanks for these recipes and photos the ingredients! I grew up eating Chinese food, but my mom only knows about 1/2 of their English names and I can’t read very much Chinese. Doesn’t help that she doesn’t measure things, she just “knows” how much goes in- so the recipe changes frequently. Thanks again- I’ve been reading your blog on-and-off at work from about 9am today and it’s about 3pm now. My next trip will be to Colorado! Your photos have convinced me!

  38. jenyu says:

    Angela – I have had similar experiences with my parents and grandma (they never measure anything!) and I can’t read much Chinese either. *sigh* It’s the plight of the ABC :)

  39. lynn says:

    i have just stumbled here from a forum. you’re doing a wonderful job with this site. i haven’t had the chance to look at everything (it’s nearly 1am here, and i really need some sleep), but next chance, i will. your chinese recipes are great for someone like me whose mother didn’t and still doesn’t have any interest in food. and you talk about the plight of the ABC (in my case, australian born chinese) and having people who don’t measure anything – what about me with a mum who really doesn’t measure anything…lol…see you soon.
    xoxo

  40. jenyu says:

    Lynn – welcome to urb!

  41. Look and Taste’s Food Blog » Blog Archive » A profile of guest bloggers Jennifer Yu from ‘Use Real Butter’ says:

    [...] cool it with tofu [...]

  42. satellite says:

    your photos are amazing. wot camera do you use, and do u use flash when taking these pics?

  43. jenyu says:

    Satellite – Thanks, I use a Nikon D200 and Nikon D70 and I use flash on occasion.

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