Crunchy Asian Tofu Salad (High Protein and Vegan)
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This Asian Tofu Salad is all about trying something new. How often do you get to throw radishes, pineapple and tofu together? It’s a crispy, crunchy, and colourful mix of appealing foods – and exceptionally healthy to boot!
The dressing is a work of art too – just imagine a bit of oil, maple syrup, lime, spicy sauce and a few peanuts all sloshing around together – what could be better?
Another reason why I had to try out this tofu salad (thanks to Jamie Oliver for the inspiration) was to discover a vegan dish that is high in protein and low in carbs at the same time. You won’t believe how difficult that is to find!
But I was successful: for 496 calories you get 24 grams of protein and just 22 grams of carbs! I dare you to show me a vegan dish with similar stats!
Tofu, also known as bean curd, is the protein star of the recipe. It’ll get you crispy and solid cubes that will safely carry all the salad flavours. You can even go for extra firm tofu which has a denser and chewier feel than other types of tofu.
You can find tofu in most grocery stores or online. For this recipe, I recommend using fresh tofu from the supermarket.
Bean sprouts, radishes, cucumber, spinach and pineapple are an attractive blend of colours and textures. All veggies have unique tastes which you rarely imagine together. But it works!
When you combine olive oil, maple syrup, hot sauce, and lime, you have a perfectly sweet and spicy Asian salad dressing ready in a flash. Some salt and pepper to taste make it complete.
A few sprinkles of chili pepper and peanuts top off the salad with some spice and crunch!
How many calories are in this Asian Tofu Salad?
This Asian tofu salad contains around 496 calories per serving. It’s enough to make a filling meal without worrying about those extra numbers.
Here’s a short overview of nutritional value per serving (531g):
Quite impressive for a salad, isn’t it?
This salad presents many health benefits, starting off with tofu as a rich source of ‘complete’ plant-based protein, iron and calcium.
It’s both low in calories and high in protein which makes it a true gem for special diets and vegetarian menus.
Eating a protein rich food like tofu will help you feel full and provide numerous benefits for your metabolism and weight loss. It’s time to forget about all those late-night cravings sabotaging your goals!
If you are interested in losing weight or simply learning to say no to certain naughty foods, why not check out our free 7-day vegetarian weight loss meal plan?
Another healthy thing about this salad is the perfect balance of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from fresh vegetables.
Spinach is rich in vitamins A, C and E, folate, iron and potassium. It also has calcium, manganese, and vitamin K important for bone health.
Bean sprouts, pineapples, radishes and chili peppers are good sources of vitamin C which is necessary for the growth and repair of body tissues and the proper functioning of the immune system.
Last but not least, cucumber! Not only can the water in cucumbers prevent dehydration, but the fruit also provides dietary fiber for bowel health and potassium for your kidneys, heart and muscles.
Are you convinced to try this salad already? All you have to do is follow some simple step-by-step instructions.
How to make the perfect tofu cubes
As a matter of course, I came across a challenge every ambitious vegetarian has to face sooner or later – making crispy tofu. Lucky enough I found it’s super easy! Let me give you a quick intro:
All you need is a pack of firm tofu and some oil. Bonus: to release excess water use a tofu press (if you have) or paper towels. You can just place tofu on a paper towel-lined plate and put some weight on top.
Slice the block of tofu into small cubes, about 1 cm squared.
Heat up some oil in a pan on medium heat and then add the tofu.
Fry for about 15 minutes. Add some more olive oil once the tofu starts to stick to the pan. Make sure to add a decent amount of salt too. Stir every three minutes or so.
Patience is a virtue: the tofu starts crispening up after about 10 minutes, so give it the time it needs!
Make sure you try them along the way and see if you need to add more salt or let them get more crispy.
Et voila. Perfect tofu cubes!
How to make Asian tofu salad
- Prep work: make the tofu cubes following the instructions above. If you want to master your multitasking skills, wash the veggies and prep them for the salad (slice the radishes, cut the cucumber and pineapple) while occasionally stirring the tofu.
- Dressing time: mix olive oil, honey, sriracha, and lime juice. As a final touch sprinkle salt and pepper. Done!
- Assemble: throw everything together except for the tofu cubes. They can get mushy so best add them to each serving separately. Garnish the salad with chili and peanuts.
What does tofu pair well with?
The best thing about tofu is that it soaks up the flavours of whatever you decide to pair it with so options are pretty much endless. Preparation methods depend on its texture which ranges from mostly liquid to extra firm.
Tofu is often featured in stir-fries, salads, soups, sauces, dips, smoothies, rice and noodle dishes. It goes well with soy sauce, ginger, chili oil, green onions, garlic, limes, sesame oil, peanut butter and more.
Can I make this tofu salad ahead?
Yes, this salad can be made in advance if the ingredients are stored properly. Cut cucumbers and sliced radishes can last in an airtight container in the fridge for about 2-3 days.
The dressing is great for making ahead and it will stay good for about 3-4 days.
How to store Asian tofu salad?
I suggest storing cooked tofu cubes separate from the rest of the ingredients in an airtight container in the fridge and tossing them into the salad before serving. This way they can last longer but may still lose their crispiness over time.
If you want to save some leftovers for longer, consider adding the dressing to individual servings instead of the whole salad.
Can I eat raw tofu?
Yes, you can eat tofu right out of the package by draining off excess liquid. The best way to enjoy it raw is by using silken tofu.
If you’re interested in raw tofu dishes, you can check out this Japanese silken tofu recipe and its variations with radish and basil or dessert with mango coulis.
Is tofu healthier than meat?
Yes, tofu can be considered healthier than meat in the sense that it’s free of the cholesterol and saturated fat found in meat.
Is it OK to have tofu every day?
It’s generally considered safe to eat tofu every day (as long as it’s not the only food you eat). There are plenty of easy vegetarian tofu recipes to incorporate into everyday meal plans. As a general rule for EVERY food though, we would suggest having a day or two now and then without eating tofu.
Asian Tofu Salad variations and alternatives
It’s easy to get creative when it comes to salads! So a few personal touches wouldn’t hurt the Asian tofu salad recipe either.
First of all, it’s up to you which hot sauce and chili pepper to use. If you don’t like the heat, choose something with a mild spice level.
If you’re allergic to or just not fond of peanuts, sprinkle the salad with sesame seeds instead. It’s also fine to use lemon juice instead of lime juice for the dressing.
You can try to cross out some ingredients that don’t work for you, but keep in mind that it will alter the salad flavour.
More tofu recipes
These ideas can make great additions to vegetarian and vegan diets and satisfy your taste buds!
All vegan and delicious Asian tofu recipes:
- Vegan Poke Bowl with Sesame Tofu
- Speedy & Easy Vegan Tofu Pad Thai
- Japanese Silken Tofu – Hiyayakko
- Vegan Pho Recipe
- Korean Vegan Bibimbap Bowl
- Vegan Lettuce Wraps
- Vietnamese Green Noodle Salad
Try our vegan take on some classics too:
For the dressing
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp sriracha (or equivalent)
- ½ lime (juiced; lemon also works)
- ½ chili pepper (eg. jalapeño)
- 1 small handful peanuts
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Press out some excess moisture of the tofu block, then cut it into small cubes (about one square centimeter). In a pan heat up some oil at a medium heat and in the tofu goes. Fry for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Multitasking challenge: make sure you stir every now and then (and add some salt) while you prep the rest of the salad. You can do it, bring it on!14 oz firm tofu, 1 tbsp olive oil
- Next up: wash your veggies!
- Slice the radishes.½ bunch radishes
- Cut the cucumber lengthwise in half, remove the seeds with a small spoon and cube what’s left.½ medium cucumber
- Cut the pineapple into small chunks as well.1 small tin pineapple
- Throw everything into a bowl along with the spinach and bean sprouts.1 handful spinach, 1 cup bean sprouts
Now to the dressing
- Combine olive oil, maple syrup, sriracha, lime juice, salt and pepper and toss it into the salad.2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp maple syrup, 1 tsp sriracha, ½ lime, Salt and pepper to taste
- Get the tofu cubes and place them in a separate bowl. Add them to each salad serving. (If you throw them right into the salad they’ll get mushy quickly).
- Also for garnish, cut the chili and roughly crush or chop the peanuts. Sprinkle them over the salad when serving.½ chili pepper, 1 small handful peanuts
Whether you choose it to be a side dish or a main course, this delicious tofu salad will encourage you to explore the variety of tofu in Asian cuisine. You can try various easy recipes with marinated, fried, smoked, grilled or baked tofu.
Now excuse me while I enjoy my not-so-small bowl of mouthwatering Asian tofu salad.
Always a fan of Asian flavors and dishes! So yum!
What a gorgeous salad. I love that you have used brussels sprouts. They are fabulous in salads!
there are no brussel sprouts
I love the perfectly browned tofu cubes…I haven’t had many tofu salads, just mainly cooked in stir-fry. The dressing sounds delicious as well!
Ooh yum this sounds so good! I have only recently convinced my husband that tofu is awesome, so we have been eating it a lot more lately – and this version sounds so good!
It’s great! I was really put off tofu the first few times I ate it because I found it soggy and bland. This way it isn’t 🙂
mmm, i’ve never tried a cold asian salad before! (minus vermicelli bowls, but i dont think that really counts…). The dressing sounds delish – light and a bit spicy. pinning!
Love the flavor combo going on here! Plus that step by step on how to make crispy tofu is super useful! Sharing 🙂
What a good idea. Thanks for sharing.
When preparing tofu, I usually press out all of the moisture. Or at least as much as I can. Is that step unnecessary for this recipe? Btw, my husband, son and I are hooked on your Buddha bowl ideas. Love them. Thanks!!
Hi Melissa! First of all thanks so much for the props on our Buddha Bowl article! It took us some time to put together, but it was lot’s of fun too!
As to the tofu: yes, press out the liquid if possible. Definitely will shorten the time till the tofu is crispy 🙂
I’ll add it to the recipe description, good point!
Just made this today on my day one of your veggie meal plan for weight loss. It is so delicious!! I have been a vegetarian most of my life, but I usually hate to cook. My first attempt at tofu and dressing both turned out so beautiful. Thank you for the recipe and the clear instructions for noobs like myself. So proud of myself! Now about cleaning up the kitchen…
You’re very welcome, Chandra! Really cool to hear the salad turned out nicely and found the instructions easy to follow 🙂
Did you go for frying or baking the tofu?
Fried and it was as good, if not better, than my favorite tofu from a local Thai place. I’m thinking making my own tofu pad Thai might be in my future! Thanks again. ☺
oh wow!! Actually a pad Thai is also on my to-do list. I had loads of it when I was in Thailand. Love that dish 😀
That sounds awesome!!
I was not a salad person until now! I crave this recipe on a daily, thanks alot! 😉 Great textures… crunchy, soft, crispy. Not boring like most salads and the dressing is one of the best I have had! Sweet and tangy! Pairs nice with the tofu and veggies. Thanks for always providing consistently delicious recipes!
Haha excellent! I agree, a certain type of salad can just grab you anytime and keep you craving it. Glad you enjoyed it Jamey!
Tried this last night to try and eat tofu (only used tofu once before and it was blaaa). This salad was really good. I had the leftovers for lunch today and it was just as good the day after making. Definitely making this again. I did swap the peanuts for cashew nuts though 🙂
Woop! Great to hear, Nat. I also wasn’t a fan of tofu the very first time I tried it. It does tend to grow on you :D. Really glad you enjoyed! Haha I think that’s a fair shout with the nuts, too 🙂
Delicious! Wonderful salad as is, and also worked great stuffed into spring roll wrappers for a little variety. Will definitely make again!
Ah, that’s wonderful to hear, Jenna!!
This is super fantastic recipe. Just loved it! One if the yummiest tofu salad I have had in a while. Thank you
Hi Bharathi, and thank you very much! Very kind of you to say. Really glad you enjoyed it!