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Author Notes: This recipe reminds me of warm summer days when I was a little girl, watching my Mom prepare dinner for our family. As soon as the scent of the dressing hit my nose, I knew what was for dinner: My favorite tofu salad from my grandmother's cookbook. Recently, I asked my Mom to send me this recipe and she had no idea what I was talking about. I instructed her to look in the cabinet under the microwave on the bottom shelf for the spiral-bound, green and pink tattered cookbook on the left side. She was shocked that I remembered exactly where this recipe was from, and frankly so was I!
My grandmother, Fusae Namimoto, moved to Los Angeles from Kauai in the early 80's. She didn't take much with her; one of the few things she brought over to the mainland was this Hawaiian cookbook. It's a collection of potluck recipes from a community center that she must have been part of on Kauai. I've changed the recipe quite bit (it calls for 1/2 cup of soy sauce!) reducing the soy sauce, adding a bit of rice vinegar instead. I know that to some, it may just seem like a simple weeknight salad; but I always feel like I am honoring my grandmother and Mom when I prepare it.
*Salad ingredients have been changed slightly as well as ingredients and proportions of the ingredients in the dressing. The dressing still has that deeply satisfying scent, though. —Kristin Posner
- 2 cloves garlic, finely grated
- 3 stalks green onions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons good quality soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons good quality Japanese rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon good quality toasted sesame oil
- 1 16 ounce basket cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 avocado, cubed
- 1/2 of a 14 ounce silken tofu, cubed into 1/2" squares
- 1/2 small carrot, peeled and grated
- *Optional/not pictured: Add 1/2 of a 4 oz. can of oil-packed, wild sardines (or any other good quality, non-smoked, sustainably-caught canned fish)
- Heat vegetable oil over medium heat on a small pan and add garlic and lightly toast until fragrant.
- Remove from heat and pour oil and garlic mixture into a medium-sized heat-proof bowl.
- Add soy sauce and green onions, stir. Quickly add rice vinegar then sesame oil and stir again.
- While the dressing is cooling, prep salad ingredients.
- Layer in order listed above, then drizzle dressing over it.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!