Cold silken tofu is a simple side dish that is popular in East Asia. We love it because it's a no-cook recipe, and is ready in 5 minutes top! This savory tofu dish requires a handful of basic ingredients, and will make any non-tofu lover turn into a tofu fanatic!
During summertime, this dish becomes increasingly popular because the tofu is served straight out of the fridge, and is so refreshing! It's a light and healthy dish that we love to have when we're feeling lazy to cook.
The inspiration behind the dish
I grew up eating cold silken tofu (凉拌嫩豆腐) and despite its simplicity, it was, and still is to this day, one of my favorite dish. The silk soft texture of the tofu, combined with the sesame oil and soy sauce, will always remind me of my childhood and my parent's cooking. In our recipe, we will give it a bit of a spicy twist. This dish is so versatile, the toppings can be as simple of complex as you'd like. Although I grew up eating in our Chinese household, we know it's also a popular dish in Korea and Japan (Hiyayakko).
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What is Silken tofu?
Silken tofu is very soft and delicate in texture, similar to flan, due to being unpressed and undrained. It is often served savory or as a dessert, and it's definitely one of our favorite kind of tofu. When people tell me that they don't like tofu, I'm always so stunned. Have you tried all kinds of tofu that exists? There's so many kind, no way someone can hate them all! From the texture of soft, firm or extra firm, to smoked or seasoned, or even the different shapes and textures, tofu is such a versatile ingredient that we believe everyone can find something they truly love.
Silken tofu VS soft tofu
Silken and soft tofu are essentially almost the same, the latter being a little less smooth and silky, but just as delicious. Generally, Chinese cuisine call for soft tofu, whereas Korean cuisine use silken tofu. We do believe these are interchangeable and would not fundamentally change the recipe.
How to carefully prepare your silken tofu
Silken tofu is very soft and delicate! We must be very careful when we manipulate to not break it, although it's not the end of the world. Carefully open your package and put a paper towel over it. Take a plate, and place it over the packaged tofu and paper towel, to then flip it. Let drain the tofu for a few minutes. We also highly suggest cutting off the bottom corners of the package to avoid the tofu sticking to the sides of the plastic container.
How to serve Cold Silken Tofu
Traditionally, this dish is served cold and straight out the fridge. I remember sometimes my parents would actually pour the sauce over the tofu, and let it refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving. However, if you're not feeling like eating a cold dish, you can always let your tofu sit at room temperature, or even heat it up in the microwave. We personally have never done that as we believe this dish is best served cold.
Toppings and Variations
- Herbs add a nice extra freshness to the dish. We love to add coriander but you can also use Thai basil.
- Salted or century egg for some additional protein.
- Minced garlic is also a nice addition to the dish, although we don't usually put any as we want to keep this dish extra light and fresh.
- Pork floss pairs nicely with this dish, it adds texture and a level of saltiness.
- Spicy kick, such as a hot oil or gochugaru. We opted for gochugaru but hot oil is also an excellent choice and we would highly recommend this one.
- Silken or soft tofu can easily be found in your local asian supermarket, in the refrigerated section.
- Low-sodium soy sauce is better than dark soy sauce for this recipe. The dark type is too strong and salty for the delicate silken tofu flavor and texture. We always use this brand.
- Sesame oil and sesame seeds will add a nutty flavor that we love!
- Honey to balance out the saltiness of the soy sauce. Swap for any preferred sweetener to make this a vegan dish.
- Gochugaru to add a slight spiciness to the dish. Hot oil would also be delicious with this dish!
- Green onions and coriander for that added freshness.
Prep the silken tofu. To drain the silken tofu, cut the 4 bottom corners of the container with scissors. Unwrap plastic cover, put paper towels on top and upside down plate. Flip the plate with tofu on top and let drain while preparing the soy-based sauce.
Prep the sauce. In a medium bowl, combine low-sodium soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, honey, gochugaru, green onions and coriander. Mix well together.
Assemble. Transfer drained tofu to desired plate, and pour sauce. Serve immediately.
Cold Silken Tofu
- 200 g silken or soft tofu
- 3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 1/2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp gochugaru
- 1/4 cup green onions chopped
- coriander chopped
- To drain the silken tofu, cut the 4 bottom corners of the container with scissors. Unwrap plastic cover, put paper towels on top and upside down plate. Flip the plate with tofu on top and let drain while preparing the soy-based sauce.
- In a medium bowl, combine low-sodium soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, honey, gochugaru, green onions and coriander. Mix well together.
- Transfer drained tofu to desired plate, and pour sauce. Serve immediately.