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Warm Cabbage Salad with Crispy Tofu

We prefer the softer, creamier texture of medium-firm or soft tofu for this tofu recipe. Firm or extra-firm tofu will also work, but they will be drier. Be sure to handle the tofu gently and thoroughly pat it dry after draining on paper towels before seasoning and coating.–Editors of Cook’s Illustrated

Warm Cabbage Salad with Crispy Tofu Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 45 M
  • Serves 4

Ingredients

  • For the tofu
  • Two (14-ounce) blocks medium-firm or soft tofu (see Note), sliced crosswise into 1-inch-thick slabs, each slab sliced into two 1-inch-wide fingers
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • For the salad
  • 1 medium head napa cabbage (about 1 pound), shredded (about 6 cups)
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 3/4 cup unsalted peanuts, toasted and crushed
  • 4 scallions, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup whole fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • For the dressing
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 5 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1–2 teaspoons Asian chili sauce

Directions

  • Prepare the tofu
  • 1. Spread the tofu out over several layers of paper towels and let sit to drain slightly, about 20 minutes. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, place a paper towel–lined platter on the rack, and heat the oven to 200°F (93°C).
  • 2. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet and set aside. Toss the cornstarch and cornmeal together in a shallow dish. Season the tofu with salt and pepper. Working with a few pieces of tofu at a time, coat them thoroughly with the cornstarch mixture, pressing on the coating to adhere, then transfer to the wire rack.
  • 3. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Carefully lay half of the tofu in the skillet and cook, turning the pieces occasionally with a spatula, until crisp and lightly golden on all sides, about 4 minutes. Using a spatula, gently lift the tofu from the oil, letting any excess oil drip back into the skillet, and transfer to the prepared platter in the oven. Repeat with the remaining tofu pieces and transfer to the platter in the oven. Discard any oil left in the skillet and wipe it out with a wad of paper towels.
  • Make the salad
  • 4. Combine all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
  • Make the dressing
  • 5. Add the oil to the skillet and return to medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, and chili sauce, and bring to a brief simmer, about 15 seconds.
  • 6. Off the heat, measure out and reserve 2 tablespoons of the dressing. Pour the remaining dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to combine. Divide the cabbage between four plates and arrange the warm tofu over the top. Spoon the reserved dressing over the tofu before serving.
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