Why It Works
- Rinsing the aburaage in hot water removes any residual oil.
- Warming the dressing melts the palm sugar and allows the aromatics to bloom.
- Marinating the aburaage in the warm dressing lets it soak up all the flavor.
- The optional inclusion of kala namak adds funky and savory notes to this vegan dish.
Strips of chewy aburaage (fried tofu) add meatiness to this light and refreshing salad. Pack it with whatever soft herbs you have—roughly torn dill, cilantro, mint, and more. It's great on its own for a light lunch, but you can make it more substantial by pairing it with a bowl of sticky rice to sop up every bit of the tart and spicy dressing.
- For the Aburaage and Dressing:
- 1 (3.5-ounce; 100g) package aburaage (fried tofu pouch)
- 1 Thai green chili, thinly sliced crosswise (or more, for a spicier dressing)
- 2 inches (20g) fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch-thin matchsticks
- 2 cloves (10g) garlic, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons (50g) soy sauce
- 5 tablespoons (75g) freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 2 limes)
- 1/2 teaspoon (1g) kala namak (see note) or kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (25g) palm sugar or light brown sugar
- For the Salad and to Serve:
- 1/4 medium white onion (50g), thinly sliced
- 1/2 medium carrot (50g), sliced into 1/8-inch-thin matchsticks
- 1 small cucumber (65g), sliced into thin rounds
- 2 medium radishes (40g), thinly sliced
- 4 ounces (110g) roughly torn mixed soft herbs, such as basil, mint, and cilantro
- 2 ounces (60g) lettuce, roughly torn
- Cooked sticky rice, for serving (optional)
To Prepare the Aburaage: Remove aburaage from package and place in a large bowl. Cover with at least 3 quarts (2.7L) boiling water and stir to rinse off oil. Drain and rinse with more hot water until pouches no longer feel greasy. Squeeze aburaage to remove any excess liquid. Cut crosswise into 1-inch strips and return to large bowl.
For the Dressing: In a small pot, combine Thai green chili, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, lime juice, kala namak or salt, and palm sugar. Over medium heat, warm mixture until sugar dissolves and garlic and ginger begin to wilt. Do not simmer. Pour warm dressing over aburaage and allow it to marinate for about 10 minutes.
Toss marinated aburaage and warm dressing with onion, carrot, cucumber, radishes, herbs, and lettuce. Serve salad immediately on its own or with sticky rice.
Kala namak is a funky, unrefined Himalayan black salt that can add savory notes to vegan dishes. It is an optional addition and can be replaced with an equal amount of kosher salt if desired.