Sichuan-Style Asparagus and Tofu Salad Recipe

Asparagus and tofu in a vinaigrette flavored with chili oil, Chinkiang vinegar, and Sichuan peppercorns. . J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

A very quick and easy side dish for a Chinese feast. Tender-crisp asparagus and firm tofu are tossed in a fiery-sweet Sichuan-style vinaigrette made with roasted chilies and Sichuan peppercorns.

Recipe Details

Sichuan-Style Asparagus and Tofu Salad Recipe

Active 30 mins
Total 30 mins
Serves 4 to 6 servings


For the Sauce:

  • 4 to 8 whole hot Chinese dried red peppers (or arbol chilies), stems removed

  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns

  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil

  • 3 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar (or a mixture of 2 tablespoons rice vinegar and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar)

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (about 3 medium cloves)

  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

For the Salad:

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 pound thin asparagus stalks, ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces

  • 10 ounces extra-firm plain, smoked, or five-spice tofu, cut into 2-inch matchsticks

  • 4 scallions, sliced thinly on a sharp bias


  1. For the Sauce: Place chiles and Sichuan peppercorns on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high until toasted and aromatic, about 15 seconds. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or a food processor and crush until it's about the texture of store-bought crushed red pepper flakes. Transfer to a small saucepan.

  2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Immediately pour hot oil over chile/peppercorn mixture (it should sizzle). Let cool for 5 minutes then transfer to a medium bowl. Add sesame seeds and set aside.

  3. Combine sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic in a small bowl and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add chile oil mixture. Set aside until ready to use. (Sauce can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks).

  4. For the Salad: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add asparagus and cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is bright green with a tender snap, about 1 minute. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water until completely cooled. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet lined with a clean kitchen towel or a double layer of paper towels and shake to dry thoroughly.

  5. Combine asparagus, tofu, and scallions in a large bowl. Stir dressing and add to taste, tossing to coat vegetables. Serve immediately.

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
133 Calories
10g Fat
9g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 133
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 1g 4%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 358mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 8mg 41%
Calcium 69mg 5%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 276mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)