This chilled salad makes for a wonderful summertime dish. It would make a great side to bring along to a picnic or party and isn’t nearly as heavy as many traditional oil-based salads (although I’m not convinced it couldn’t use a bit of oil in the dressing).
This is a 3-step salad. It requires dressing, salad, and gremolata crumbled topping. It is adapted from a recipe in Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.
Vietnamese Salad with Grilled Tofu
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons chili garlic sauce or less to reduce heat
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice about 2 limes
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 12 ounces extra-firm tofu excess moisture pressed out
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 7 or 8-ounce package of vermicelli noodles*
- 1 medium-size cucumber thinly-sliced half-moons 1 heaping cup or 6 ounces
- 1 small red onion sliced thinly
- 2 cups mixed greens
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves I like to do a tiny chiffonade
- 1/4 cup toasted cashews or peanuts or walnuts, chopped very well
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped mint
- Zest of 1/2 lime
- To prepare the dressing, mix all dressing ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
- Slice the tofu into your desired shapes (I prefer isosceles triangles with appx. 1-inch hypotenuse, as seen above). Marinate the tofu in just 6 tablespoons of the dressing and 2 teaspoons of soy sauce. Set aside for now, but flip occasionally.
- Cook the vermicelli according to the package instructions. Be careful to not over-cook the noodles. Once cooked, cool immediately with plenty of cold water, strain and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all salad vegetables, mint, and noodles with your hands until well mixed. Add the remainder of the dressing, mix again, and chill in the refrigerator while you finish preparing the tofu and gremolata.
- Grill the tofu 3-4 minutes each side in a non-stick or cast iron pan.
- While the tofu is grilling, combine all gremolata ingredients in a small bowl. I believe the original recipe called for adding the remaining marinade to the noodles mixture at this point, but I skipped that step. You might want to try it out for more flavor.
- Serve the salad in a bowl, topped with gremolata and with grilled tofu on the side. Additional chili garlic sauce goes well with this salad.