Bold spicy Asian flavours that will definitely get your taste buds moving. Delicious texture with tofu skin, cucumber and cauliflower mixed with a chilli black vinegar dressing that is spicy, sweet and sharp all at the same time.
Why I Love Tofu Skin Salad with Cucumber and Cauliflower
So I am not going to take 100% credit for this spicy Asian salad because it was my hubby who discovered the two main ingredients in it – pressed tofu skin and Lao Gan Ma Chili oil.
He returned home from the local Asian grocery store with two new products and made a simple classic cold tofu salad recipe by mixing pressed tofu skin, cucumber, coriander and Lao Gan Ma chili oil together.
My whole family loved it. Even though the tofu skin salad was a touch too spicy for my younger two children, they could not stop eating it. The Lao Gan Ma chilli flavours are addictive.
You are probably thinking what’s this Lao Gan Ma chili oil you keep mentioning in this cold tofu salad recipe?
Lao Gan Ma chilli oil has many different varieties but the one we used is their signature version made with chilli, garlic, onions, fermented soybeans and peanuts.
Seriously, we can’t get enough. There is a delicious kick in spice but also full of flavour. The chilli is crispy and adds another layer of texture.
A great condiment for noodles, rice and of course salads. Promised this is not a sponsored post. I just love the flavours of Lao Gan Ma Chili oil.
Whilst I did enjoy my hubby’s version (and I am not lying! I ask him to make his version all the time.) I wanted to give his spicy Asian salad bolder flavours other than pure chilli and throw in some extra crunch.
The crunchy cauliflower florets add another dimension to the salad along with fresh cucumber and spring onion.
I still use Lao Gan Ma chili oil in the salad dressing but combine it with an intense Chinese black vinegar and sweet brown sugar to mellow out the spice and bring a caramel sweetness to the tofu skin salad.
Hot, sweet, sour and crunchy in one bite.
What is Tofu Skin?
In researching what is tofu skin, I found there are two types of tofu products that carry the same name.
The first type, possibly more commonly known, is also called fuzhu, yuba or beancurd skin.
This type of tofu skin is a popular by-product of boiling soymilk. Tofu skin is made from the film that is formed on the surface of soymilk when boiling and then skimmed off. It is normally dried but you can also find it fresh.
I find the texture to be chewy in cooking but there is a softer version which can be silky smooth in cooking.
Another tofu skin product which is the one used in this salad, is fresh pressed tofu skin sheets.
This is formed from pressing firm tofu into super thin sheets. This variety can be labelled tofu or bean curd sheets. Pressed tofu skin has a firmer texture, similar to five spiced firm tofu and best cut into thin strips or small pieces.
Similar to tofu, both varieties of tofu skin are high in plant-based protein but low in carbs and fat making it very popular in vegan and vegetarian diets.
A rich source of iron, calcium, and other essential vitamins and minerals, has said consuming soy-based products regularly may help prevent chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and lower bad cholesterol.
How to Use Tofu Skin
Yuba or dried tofu skin is very popular in Chinese cooking. You can find it in most Asian grocery stores.
In order to use them, you need to soak in water and rehydrate.
Dried tofu skin is extremely versatile and can be used in various cooking styles. Growing up, I would often eat dried bean curd skin in Chinese stews or braised hot pots.
And one of my favourite Chinese desserts is dried tofu skin with barley and ginkgo nut sweet soup. Probably not everyone’s cup of tea but for me this is pure Cantonese comfort food.
You can also soak large bean curd skin sheets and then use it as wraps for mince meat or vegetarian mixture and then fried, creating a delicious bean curd style spring roll. You can also quickly fry them and eat as a snack or add crunch to a dish.
For me, pressed tofu skin is a relatively new product. More commonly used in Northern Chinese cuisine, pressed tofu skin is popular in cold salads, stir-fries and hot pots.
Tofu skin does a great job in soaking up flavours so don’t be afraid to use bolder flavours including chilli. Pressed tofu skin or bean curd sheet is normally found in the fridge section at your local Asian grocery store in a vacuum package.
How to Make Tofu Skin Salad with Cucumber and Cauliflower
How to Prepare the Tofu Skin
Remove pressed tofu skin from packaging, give it a quick rinse under water and thinly slice the block of tofu skin into thin strips. Mine were probably 0.5cm thick.
Once you have finished slicing, the tofu skin strips may still be stuck together.
Use your hands and pull them apart so you have a pile of what looks like tofu skin noodles. Set aside for assembly.
How to Prepare the Salad
Peel the cucumber and trim the ends. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and then again so you have 4 long quarters.
If you have a cucumber that has a lot of seeds, I would trim some of it off because you don’t want the salad to be too wet. Then cut the cucumber diagonally about 1-1.5cm apart.
You only need about 2 cups of small cauliflower florets in this cold tofu salad recipe. Depending on the size of your cauliflower, you most likely will have some leftovers.
Store the rest for later in the week and try our other delicious cauliflower salads such as Pomegranate Cauliflower Salad with Chestnuts.
Wash cauliflower and trim the stem as close to the florets. Using a small knife, cut the florets out. Some florets may still be a bit big so cut those in half. You can also use your hands and break the florets up.
You can actually use raw cauliflower florets in this salad but it can be difficult for some people to digest raw cauliflower so give them a quick blanche to cook through but still keep its crunch. If you are happy for raw cauliflower, skip to the spring onions.
Have a bowl of ice water ready before blanching the cauliflower. By plunging the cauliflower straight into ice cold water after boiling will stop it from further cooking and keep its crunch.
Bring a medium size saucepan of water to boil, add cauliflower florets and boil for 2 minutes. Drain cauliflower florets and add straight to ice cold water to cool down. Leave for about 2 minutes and then drain from cold water. Set aside for assembly.
Wash and chop 2 sprigs of spring onion into 0.5cm rounds.
How to Make Chilli Black Vinegar Dressing
I find this dressing to have a beautiful sweet tartness. The brown sugar mixed with black vinegar creates a caramel-like flavour but retains its sharpness. The tofu skin, cucumber and cauliflower carries it so well.
Love this Chilli Black Vinegar dressing also with a big bowl of cold noodles.
In a small bowl add black vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil and warm water.
Mix well together until sugar dissolves. Taste the dressing to make sure the balance between sweet, sour and salt is right for your palette. Adjust as required.
Add chilli oil, crushed garlic and grated ginger to the vinegar mixture and mix well together. Taste and adjust if you prefer more spicy.
How to Assemble Tofu Skin Salad
In a mixing bowl, add tofu skin, cucumber and cauliflower together. Mix together with dressing. Make sure all the veggies and tofu skin are fully coated with dressing. Scatter with chopped spring onion and toss together.
Pop salad into the fridge and let the salad marinate in the dressing for about 20 minutes before serving. Definitely a salad you can prepare in advance and serve when you need it.
Tumble into a large serving bowl. Serve as a cold side dish with rice, noodles or grilled fish.
This is not a salad that hides in the background. Bold, spicy Asian flavours that definitely get your taste buds moving.
I just love the balance of the four S’s – sweet, sour, savoury and spicy in the Chilli Black Vinegar dressing and to have delicious texture with tofu skin, cucumber and cauliflower in the salad.
If you love a good dose of chilli and a hit of delicious tangy flavours, this tofu skin salad is for you.
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Tofu Skin Salad with Cucumber and Cauliflower
- 200 g tofu skin
- 2 cucumber, Lebanese
- 2 cups cauliflower florets
- 2 sprigs spring onion
Click on the toggle below for conversion to US Cooking Units.
- Remove tofu skin from packaging, give it a quick rinse under water and thinly slice the block of tofu skin into thin strips approximately 0.5cm thick. Once you have finished slicing, the tofu skin strips may still be stuck together. Use your hands and pull them apart so you have a pile of what looks like tofu skin noodles. Set aside for assembly.
- Peel the cucumber and trim the ends. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and then again so you have 4 long quarters. If there are a lot of seeds in the cucumber, trim some of it off because you don’t want the salad to be too wet. Cut the cucumber diagonally about 1-1.5cm apart.
- Wash cauliflower and trim the stem as close to the florets. Using a paring knife, cut the florets out. Some florets may still be a bit big so cut those in half. You can also use your hands and break the florets up. Bring a medium size saucepan of water to boil, add cauliflower florets and boil for 2 minutes. Drain cauliflower florets and add straight to ice cold water to cool down. Leave for about 2 minutes and then drain from cold water. Set aside for assembly.
- Wash and chop 2 sprigs of spring onion into 0.5cm rounds.
- In a small mixing bowl add black vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil and warm water. Mix well together until sugar dissolves.
- Taste to make sure the balance between sweet, sour and salt is right for your palette. Adjust as required.
- Add chilli oil, crushed garlic and grated ginger and mix well together.
- Taste and adjust if you prefer more spicy.
- In a large mixing bowl, add tofu skin, cucumber and cauliflower together.
- Mix together with dressing. Make sure all the veggies and tofu skin are fully coated with dressing.
- Scatter with chopped spring onion and toss together.
- Pop salad into the fridge and let the salad “marinate” in the dressing for about 20 minutes before serving.
- Tumble into a large serving bowl and serve.
- Pressed tofu skin or bean curd sheets can be found in Asian grocery stores. They should be in the same place as fresh tofu. If you can’t find pressed tofu skin, try using a plain hard or pressed tofu and thinly slice into strips.
- If you prefer, you can use raw cauliflower in this recipe. There is no need to blanche.
- You can prepare this salad in advance and serve later. The tofu skin, cucumber and cauliflower holds pretty well with the dressing.
- You don’t have to use Lao Gan Ma Chili oil. Any Chinese / Sichuan chilli oil would work especially for those that have a nut allergy. Choose another brand of chilli oil that does not have peanuts.
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