A quick and easy recipe for silken tofu with scallion and soy dressing. It shows you a simple yet delicious way to serve this healthy vegan, protein-rich ingredient.
Do you know that in China tofu isn’t enjoyed as a substitute for meat? People love it, just like any other ingredient, for its good taste and versatile usage, not for the fact that it’s vegetarian/vegan.
Today, I’m introducing another delicious tofu recipe, silken tofu with scallion and soy dressing (葱油绢豆腐). It takes only a few minutes to prepare, but the taste is so satisfying.
What is silken tofu
Silken tofu, known as Juan Dou Fu/绢豆腐 in Chinese, is a type of unpressed tofu that’s made of soy milk and coagulates, with a gypsum solution, directly in its container.
Compared to regular tofu (aka block tofu, cotton tofu) which is pressed, cut and packed in water, silken tofu tastes smoother, silkier and creamier.
It comes with different levels of firmness, soft, firm and extra firm. All versions work fine for this recipe. No matter how firm, remember that careful and minimum handling is required during preparation.
For shooting this recipe, I used fresh silken tofu which can be found in the refrigerated section of Chinese/Asian grocery stores. You can also purchase shelf-stable ones in aseptic packages (same as UHT milk packaging) that don’t require refrigeration.
🛎 NOTE: If you have trouble sourcing silken tofu, use soft block tofu to substitute. Firmer block tofu is not recommended though.
Remove silken tofu from the box
For aesthetic reasons, silken tofu salad is usually served whole on a plate/bowl and it’s broken into bite-sized chunks while eating. Since it solidifies inside its container, it tends to “stick” to all sides of the box. So it can be tricky to remove it from the box without breaking it apart. If you’re using fresh silken tofu like mine, please follow these tips:
- Absorb any excess moisture with kitchen paper. First, peel off the cover of the box. Put several layers of paper towel over the box, then flip over. Leave to drain on a flat surface for a few minutes. By doing this, the dressing you use later will have less chance of being diluted with water.
- Cut a small opening at each corner of the box. Use a pair of scissors to help. This allows the air to go in, thus making it easier to remove the tofu from the box.
After the above two steps, flip over the tofu and remove the kitchen paper. Place a serving plate upside down to cover the tofu then turn it over. Gently lift the box up. Now you should have a whole piece of silken tofu ready to be seasoned.
Make an exceptional dressing
To season silken tofu, you can go as simple as just adding a splash of soy sauce and sesame oil or chilli oil. Today, I’d like to introduce a more sophisticated, versatile sauce that makes any Chinese style salad full of flavours. It combines scallion and garlic infused oil with soy sauce and vinegar. So aromatic and refreshing!
Here is what you need:
- Neutral cooking oil, 1½ tablespoon
- Scallions, 3 stalks (or onion, shallots)
- Garlic, 3 cloves
- Chilli flakes, or ground dried chilli, ½ teaspoon (optional but I highly recommend)
- Light soy sauce, 2 tablespoons
- Black rice vinegar (e.g. Chinkiang vinegar), 1 teaspoon
- Sugar, 1 pinch
- Firstly, infuse the oil with aromatics using the simmering method, just like how you make Chinese scallion oil (葱油). Add oil, finely chopped scallions and coarsely minced garlic to a small saucepan over low heat. Leave to gently simmer while stirring from time to time.
- As soon as you see the aromatics turning lightly golden, remove the pan from the heat immediately (they burn quickly).
- Add chilli flakes (if using). Allow the remaining heat to release their aroma. Then pour in light soy sauce, black rice vinegar, and a little sugar.
Mix well then pour everything onto the tofu. Sprinkle some finely chopped scallions and toasted sesame seeds as a garnish.
Serve the dish
Because of the fragile nature of silken tofu, it’s not a good idea to pick it up with chopsticks. Use a spoon to break a mouthful along with the topping and sauce.
In China, this salad is typically served as part of a multi-dish meal. For example, pair it with a meat dish (e.g. Braised Pork Belly, Five-Spice Chicken), a vegetable dish (e.g. Stir-fried Chinese Broccoli, Hand-Torn Cabbage), a soup (e.g. Hot and Sour Soup) and plain steamed rice.
🛎 NOTE: Although this recipe suggests you make this dish with chilled silken tofu, you may also serve it warm if you like. Simply steam the tofu for 5 minutes. Carefully pour out any excess water, then dress it with the seasoning sauce.
Other ways to enjoy silken tofu
Silken tofu can be enjoyed either raw as it is or cooked. If you’d like to incorporate it into other dishes, try the following ideas:
- Pair it with other ingredients to make a salad. Century Egg and Tofu Salad (see image above) is a classic example.
- Add it to a soup, e.g. Egg Drop Soup with Tomatoes.
- Use it for braised dishes like Mapo tofu. It’s not an authentic choice, but it would work if you use the firm version of silken tofu.
- It’s also a popular vegan alternative for making sweet treats, e.g. dairy-free cakes, desserts and smoothies.
Silken Tofu with Scallions and Soy Dressing
- 500 g silken tofu, or soft block tofu - about 1 lb
- 1½ tablespoon neutral cooking oil
- 3 stalks scallions, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon chilli flakes, or ground dried chilli - optional
- 2 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon black rice vinegar
- 1 pinch sugar
- Toasted sesame seeds - for garnishing
- Peel off the cover of the silken tofu box. Place several layers of kitchen paper towel over then flip over. Leave to sit on a flat surface allowing the paper to absorb any excess water.
- While waiting, prepare the sauce. Add oil, scallions and garlic to a small saucepan (keep some scallions for garnishing). Leave to simmer over low heat until the aromatics become golden. Turn off the heat then stir in chilli flakes if using. Finally, add light soy sauce, black rice vinegar and sugar. Mix well.
- Flip over the tofu and carefully remove the kitchen paper. Place a serving plate upside down over the opening of the tofu box. Turn it around and gently lift up the box.
- Pour the sauce over the tofu. Garnish with scallions and toasted sesame seeds.
NUTRITION DISCLOSURE: Nutritional information on this website is provided as a courtesy to readers. It should be considered estimates. Please use your own brand nutritional values or your preferred nutrition calculator to double check against our estimates.
I love this dish. I make a triple batch of sauce, a large pot of rice, and keep containers of silken tofu in the refrigerator at work. When time for lunch I warm the rice and put the cold tofu and sauce over it. Delicious just like that. If I have leftover edamame, roasted veggies, or a cucumber salad, I add them, too. Thanks for a wonderful recipe.
Wei Guo says
That sounds like a great lunch combination! Glad you enjoy my recipe Alexandra.
Nancy S Farrell says
This was so good. I had to eliminate the garlic because it makes me Ill but I added some togarashi for an extra kick. The next day I added it to my sticky rice for another tasty meal.
Wei Guo says
Yes, it would be nice with additional seasonings. Glad you enjoyed it!
Tried this and it was very good. Will be making this again. I have always had it in Chinese restaurants but did not know how to make this. Yum yum yummy. I always thought that tofu had to be cooked or fired for this recipe.
Wei Guo says
It’s so simple, right? Glad you enjoyed it Bilkish!