Spicy Warm Silken Tofu With Celery and Cilantro Salad Recipe

Spicy Warm Silken Tofu With Celery and Cilantro Salad Recipe

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Spicy dressed tofu is a five-minute light meal or appetizer, fragrant with chili oil, vinegar, and Sichuan peppercorn.

Note: Chinkiang vinegar, broad bean paste, and chili oil can all be found readily in Asian grocers.

  • Yield:serves 2 to 4 as an appetizer
  • Active time: 5 minutes
  • Total time:5 minutes


  • 1 stalk celery, cut into thin 2-inch matchsticks
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 3 whole scallions, sliced into thin slicers at an acute bias
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted whole cumin seed
  • 1 tablespoon sesame paste (such as tahini), or peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Chinkiang vinegar (see note)
  • 2 teaspoons fermented chili broad bean paste (see note)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup Chinese roasted chili oil (see note)
  • 1 medium clove garlic, finely minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 (19-ounce) block soft silken tofu
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds


  1. 1.

    Combine celery, cilantro, and scallions in a medium bowl and cover with ice cold water. Add 4 to 5 ice cubes and set aside.

  2. 2.

    Combine peppercorns and cumin in a mortar and pestle and roughly grind. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add sesame paste, soy sauce, vinegar, chili bean paste, sugar, chili oil, and garlic. Whisk to combine and set aside.

  3. 3.

    Spoon tofu into a serving bowl and microwave until barely warmed through, about 1 minute. Cover with dressing. Drain celery, cilantro, and scallions carefully and add to bowl. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve immediately.