Many of the Thai dishes that I have learned to cook are part of my attempt to recreate restaurant dishes that I like. This recipe is different. It is from a very creative and inspiring cookbook called True Thai, The Modern Art of Thai Cooking by Victor Sodsook. I do not think that I have ever eaten anything like this at a Thai restaurant. I suppose that it is a little bit like those meat salads but so much more light and delicate with the tofu. I don’t even usually like tofu, but this elegant salad is refreshing and flavourful. The toasted rice powder lends a nutty, crispy element to the mix. I make it with less onion and more mint than the original and I also like to add peanuts sometimes.
This is a good dish to bring to a picnic or potluck. It’s vegetarian and doesn’t contain any foods that people are frequently allergic to and it travels well. Just carry the salad and the washed lettuce leaves and assemble upon arrival.
TOFU SALAD WITH MINT AND TOASTED RICE POWDER
adapted from True Thai by Victor Sodsook
- 6 oz firm tofu or savoury baked tofu to press the tofu, slice it thin and place it between two layers of dry clean towel under a weighted cutting board
- 1/2 cup raw sticky rice or (white sushi rice works too)
- The whites and greens of 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup minced shallots, rinsed under cold water
- 1 and 1/4 cups chopped fresh mint
- 1/4 cup soy sauce (I use wheat free tamari)
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- cayenne pepper to taste
- two small heads of boston lettuce, leaves separated and rinsed
- toasted peanuts for garnish (optional)
- Skip this step if you are using baked tofu. Slice the tofu into 1/3 inch thick slabs. Lay the pieces of tofu in a single layer on top of a clean dry towel. Place another layer of towel on top and then a weighted cutting board on top of that. Let the weight press the extra moisture out of the tofu while you prepare the rest of the salad.
- Toast the rice in a dry skillet over medium high heat for about 3 minutes or until it is golden brown on all sides. Shake the pan continuously to rotate the rice. Remove from the heat and prepare the rest of the salad while the rice cools.
- Combine the scallions, shallots, mint, tamari, lime juice and sugar in a large bowl.
- Finely dice the pressed or baked tofu and toss it into the salad.
- Grind the cooled rice in to a gritty sandy powder in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and add it to the salad.
- Add cayenne pepper to taste.
- Serve scoops of the salad in the boston lettuce leaves, sprinkled with peanuts and eat with your hands.
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