Boston Globe, June 20, 2007
Tofu, the sensational block packed with protein that is popular in Korean, Japanese, and Chinese cuisines, is no longer exclusively available in Asian markets. Unfortunately, while the widely distributed brands like Nasoya are good, they don’t have the same strikingly fresh taste as tofu from Asian grocers.
When you go to pick out a variety, soft or silken tofu is good for soups or eating in its pure state with just a bit of soy sauce and grated ginger. Firmer varieties are best for stir fries and for using in dishes where the white block is cut and reshaped, as it is here.
A towering version of this tofu sandwich recipe was created by a Japanese cooking teacher for a class on contemporary Japanese cuisine. In this recipe, the tofu is cut into 2-inch rounds with a cookie cutter, then layered with chopped smoked salmon and coarsely mashed avocado. On top, a shrimp half and some edamame are the garnish.
The sandwich includes two rounds of tofu, rather than the tower of the original recipe. The finished dish is beautiful, healthy, and cooling, with a complex set of creamy, salty, and buttery-rich flavors. Whisk soy sauce and olive oil to make a vinaigrette that blends elements of Eastern and Western cuisines.
Instead of a cookie cutter, you can also use a small can. Cut off the top and bottom and press down any jagged edges with the back of a spoon. The can will act as a mold to hold the
ingredients together as you stack the intriguing layers
Use Nasoya or House brand tofu (the firm variety).
1 block (14 ounces) firm tofu
1/4 pound smoked salmon
4 tablespoons olive oil, or more to taste
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup shelled fresh or frozen edamame
1 cooked shrimp, sliced in half along the back
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1. Have on hand a deep 2-inch plain round cookie cutter or any small can about the same size.
2. Place the tofu on a plate and let sit for 20 minutes to drain the excess liquid. Tip off the liquid. With the cutter, use a twisting motion to slowly cut into the tofu, making one large tofu cylinder. With a sharp knife, cut that cylinder in half horizontally. Cut each half in half again to make 4 circles.
3. With a chef’s knife, chop the salmon finely. In a bowl, combine the salmon, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and several generous twists of pepper. If the mixture seems dry, drizzle it with a little more olive oil; set aside.
4. Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Scoop out the flesh and place on a cutting board. With a chef’s knife, chop the avocado.
5. In a medium bowl, combine the avocado with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
6. Place 1 tofu circle into the cutter. With a spoon, add a 1/2-inch layer of the salmon mixture. Press it evenly with the back of the spoon. Repeat with the avocado mixture. Top with a circle of tofu. Carefully lift the biscuit cutter from the stack. Slip a small metal spatula under the sandwich and transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining ingredients. (Serve leftover salmon and avocado on crackers.)
7. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, drop in the edamame beans. Cook for 1 minute. Drain, rinse with cold water, and pat dry with paper towels.
8. Garnish the sandwiches with the edamame and a shrimp half.
9. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil with the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice, soy sauce, and sugar. Drizzle a little of the dressing on each sandwich and serve the rest separately.