A Calming, Meditative Dish from Chef David Chang

He may be known for his potty-mouth and explosive, imploding personality.

But New York Chef David Chang of the mini Momofuku restaurant empire can sure put together one soothing, serene dish.

That’s just what you’ll enjoy in his “Cherry Tomato & Tofu Salad” from the newest Alice Waters cookbook, “In the Green Kitchen” (Clarkson Potter).

The founder of the landmark restaurant, Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Waters put this book together from dishes created by chefs at the 2008 Slow Food Nation event in San Francisco.  The premise of the book, of which I recently received a review copy, is that by keeping a well stocked pantry, learning a few basic techniques and seeking out the best organic, local and seasonal ingredients, anyone can create simple meals that nourish and satisfy.

I was fortunate enough to see Chang create this tofu dish at a cooking demo at Slow Food Nation. It’s a super simple dish of creamy, cold tofu topped with a zingy dressing of sherry vinegar, olive oil, sesame oil and sesame seeds that’s finished with refreshing shiso leaves and a bountiful handful of sweet summer cherry tomatoes. If you don’t have shiso readily available, fresh mint or basil leaves would make a fine substitution.

It’s like an Asian take on insalata caprese, with good-for-you tofu standing in for mozzarella. Enjoy it as a first course or as a light lunch on a lazy, warm afternoon, when the only swearing you plan to do is about how good this is.

Cherry Tomato & Tofu Salad

(Makes 2 servings)

2 teaspoons soy sauce

A few drops of toasted sesame oil

A dash of sherry vinegar

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt

Fresh-ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

1 cup ripe cherry tomatoes, halved

2 slices very fresh tofu or yuba (tofu skin), 1/2-inch thick and about 2 by 4 inches

Shiso leaves

Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar and olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toasted sesame oil is very potent and should be used sparingly. Add dressing and sesame seeds to the cherry tomatoes and mix together. Arrange tofu on a plate and spoon over tomatoes and dressing. Cut fresh shiso leaves into fine ribbons, or tear leaves into pieces, and scatter over tomatoes and tofu, then serve.

From David Chang, as published in “In the Green Kitchen” by Alice Waters

More: My 2009 Q&A with David Chang

More: David Chang’s Visit Last Year to Kepler’s

More: Making Momofuku’s Famous Pork Belly Buns

More: Eating My Way Through Various Momofuku Restaurants

More: A Different Take on Tofu and Tomatoes

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Date: Friday, 27. August 2010 5:28
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Asian Recipes, Chefs, General

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  1. 1

    That is a very original combination! What a delightful salad I’ve read about his strong personality… ;-P



  2. 2

    A beautiful, summery salad! A combo of cherry tomatoes and tofu sounds excellent!

  3. 3

    What a beautiful bed of bright tomatoes on tofu! Looks healthy and delicious. I like it.

  4. 4

    Your version turned out brilliant! Did you use silken tofu? That’s the only texture of tofu I’d eat cold.

  5. 5

    Single Guy Ben: It was silken tofu, indeed. Although, the dish would work with firmer tofu, too, if you prefer that texture.

  6. 6

    I can’t wait to try this. I love both cherry tomatoes and tofu but I never thought to put them together. Thanks for sharing the recipe :)

  7. 7

    I was helping David with this at SFN08 and he made it with fresh yuba skins. It’s much creamier and so simple

  8. 8

    I love this twist on Caprese and the shiso is a an inspired touch!

  9. 9

    I like this dish; I also like how you recommendation it cause I always have lazy afternoons : ).

  10. 10

    Yum – Another way to eat tofu!

  11. 11

    Awesome. Been on a huge tofu kick. I’ll have to try this at home! :)

  12. 12

    I’ll definitely try this one. That blast of juicy tomato with the silkiness of the tofu sounds delicious. D. Chang is an interesting person, but can really make great food!

  13. 13

    I eat tomato salad several times a week, I love it, this is a recipe I definitely need to try out!

  14. 14

    haha I remember reading all about him in Medium Raw. So sad that I missed him when he came here but thanks to you I can taste some of his food! :D

  15. 15

    I am speechless he is awesome huge! :)

  16. 16

    David Chang is a genius so first of all, I am SURE that I would love this. Then the idea that it’s a fusion version of caprese…um yeah. Instant addict right here.

  17. 17

    This looks marvelous! Chang is brilliant and I’d love to try this salad.

    I just finished Tony Bourdains’s book and he spends an entire chapter on David Chang. It was a great read.

  18. 18

    Barbara: That chapter in Bourdain’s book was one of my faves. He so captures Chang’s personality. I think one of the best descriptions he wrote was that Chang is like a Marine with Tourette Syndrome. Too much!

  19. 19

    Looks & sounds perfect!

  20. 20

    I meant to get that Alice Waters book but wasn’t sure what was in it – I should have known better! Am off to buy it now after this comment – that salad alone makes it worth it.

  21. 21

    a personality that’s both explosive and implosive? sounds scary…and intriguing! :)

  22. 22

    What a simple, cheery & perfect summer salad. I must check out Alice Waters book- -thanks for the recommendation. I look forward to meeting you at BlogHer Food.

  23. 23

    This looks like it is absolutely bursting with fresh flavor! I love the bed of tofu too!

  24. 24

    Marla: Thanks for the shout-out. Look forward to meeting, you, too at BlogHer Food in SF in October. I’ll be one of the speakers on the panel about blogging and ethics.

  25. 25

    Looks Summery and delicious with great flavors.

  26. 26

    This is a David Chang recipe? It isn’t fried! Maybe that was the price he had to pay to get it by Alice Waters? :-)

  27. 27

    The presentation is beautiful. I’m sure it tastes wonderful too.

  28. 28

    gorgeous photo of a delicious sounding salad! looks like I’ve got to buy that book :)

  29. 29

    This is a great twist on a caprese, and I have to try this! The sesame in it sounds delicious.

  30. 30

    I love Alice waters and her recipes so I am check out this by david chang too. I have never used Shiso leaves though, where do you get those?

    Simply amazing recipe, as a vegetarian this is great one for me to try!

  31. 31

    Pam: You can find shiso leaves in the produce section of Japanese markets. You also can grow your own shiso plant. And believe me, if yours truly, Black Thumb Jung, can successfully grow shiso, so can you!

  32. 32

    i love David Chang. he is so bold and courageous. Lovely photo: conveys the bright freshness of the salad.

  33. 33

    Neat! I really like the idea of using shiso leaves and tofu. What a refreshing idea.

  34. 34

    What a wonderful sounding dish. I cannot wait to sample it for myself, it sounds so refreshing.

  35. 35

    is shiso the same leaf used in making sushi and can I find them in a Japanese grocery store?

  36. 36

    Cynthia: Yes, it is the very same leaf you often find accenting your sashimi or sushi. And yes, you can find it in the produce section of your Japanese market.

  37. 37

    foodgal, how did I miss this recipe? I’m especially bummed at my lack of attention because I had so much shiso growing in my herb garden this summer and this recipe looks radiculously delicious! I can’t wait to try it with the good stuff from San Jose Tofu…

  38. 38

    […] More Tastes of Momofuku: David Chang’s Cherry Tomato and Tofu Salad […]

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