Eat for Eight Bucks: Sesame Scallion Tofu Recipe

Eat for Eight Bucks

Dinner recipes that will keep your stomach and wallet happy from Cara and Phoebe of Big Girls, Small Kitchen

Eat for Eight Bucks: Sesame Scallion Tofu Recipe

[Photograph: Robin Bellinger]

Shopping List

Heaping 1/3 cup arame (bulk): $0.60 1/2 bunch scallions (pro-rated): $0.50 12-ounce package firm tofu: $2.20 1/2 Savoy cabbage: $1.35 1 carrot: $0.25 Cilantro: $1.00

Pantry items: Panko or bread crumbs, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, pepper, oil, mayonnaise, rice vinegar, sugar, rice.

Total cost (for 4 portions): $5.90

Mark Bittman calls this dish "Tofu Burgers, Asian-style," but since I can't really imagine eating these sesame scallion tofu patties on a bun I have re-christened them. Tofu is usually not greeted warmly at my house, and while I can't say I've received requests for a repeat of this meal, it was at least acknowledged to be better than plain old sautéed bean curd. Me, I thought it was quite yummy, especially over white rice with extra soy sauce.

Even my tofu skeptics could not resist the seaweed-laced slaw, which was deemed excellent by all. I bought my arame in bulk and can't say how much more expensive an entire bag would have been, but if you end up with a bunch of extra seaweed and don't want to make these dishes again, Bittman says you can simply toss it into other salads—even without soaking, if you have time to let it sit and absorb some dressing. I didn't have any cilantro but wished I had. Don't skip it unless you have to.

Sesame Scallion Tofu Patties

-serves 4

Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian


  • 2 tablespoons arame or other dark sea green, such as kombu or wakame
  • 1/2 bunch scallions, trimmed
  • 12 ounces firm tofu, patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons panko or fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil or neutral oil
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar (I used white wine vinegar, and it was okay)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 instant wakame or other dried seaweed (I used arame, soaked and drained as for the scallion tofu)
  • 2 cups chopped cabbage (I used 1/2 head Savoy, shredded in food processor)
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • Salt and pepper


  1. 1.

    Pour boiling water over the arame and soak for a minute or two. Drain well.

  2. 2.

    Put the scallions in a food processor and pulse a few times, until minced. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Put about half the tofu and all the arame in the processor (no need to wash it out) and pulse a couple of times, until crumbled. Add to the mixing bowl.

  3. 3.

    Put the remaining tofu in the processor and let it run until the tofu is smooth. Add it to the mixing bowl, along with the panko, sesame seeds, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and lots of pepper and stir well to combine. Form into 4 patties, and let rest if you have time. (You can make the mixture and even shape the patties up to a day or so in advance. Just cover rightly and refrigerate, then bring everything back to room temperature before cooking.)

  4. 4.

    Heat the oil in a large nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over a medium flame. (I found that a nonstick skillet worked much better than cast-iron.) When hot, slip the patties into the pan. Cook, undisturbed, until they turn golden and release easily, about 5 minutes. Flip carefully and cook until done, another 3 to 4 minutes.

  5. 5.

  6. 6.

    Sea Slaw

  7. 7.

    -serves 4

  8. 8.

    Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

  9. 9.

    Whisk the mayonnaise, vinegar, soy sauce, and peanuts together in a large bowl. Add the seaweed, cabbage, and carrot and toss to coat. If possible, refrigerate for an hour or so before serving (or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours). To serve, add the cilantro, salt, and pepper and toss again.