A Salad from Hiroko Shimbo To Start the New Year Off Right

A kale-tofu salad that you will sing the praises for all new year long.

At the top of your New Year’s resolution list are the vows to eat more kale and more tofu, right?

They should be.

Especially when they’re combined in this healthful salad that tastes so delicious that you’ll forget it’s even good for you.

“Kale in Peanut Butter-Tofu Sauce” is so satisfying that even my husband Meat Boy inhaled it even though there are no meat products in it.

The recipe is from “Hiroko’s American Kitchen” (Andrews McMeel), of which I recently received a review copy. The book is by Hiroko Shimbo, an authority on Japanese cuisine who is also a trained sushi chef.

It features 125 straightforward recipes that make cooking Japanese food at home much simpler with Shimbo’s tips and substitutions when you can’t find certain ingredients at your local market. Don’t have dashi? Use low-sodium chicken stock instead. No Japanese curry powder in your pantry? Reach for Madras curry powder instead. Don’t want to make kelp stock? Plain water will do in a pinch.

This particular dish tastes like one of those pricey prepared salads you’d find at Whole Foods.

I used lacinato kale, cut into thin ribbons. Although the recipe calls for including the stems, you may want to remove them if they are too large and tough. The sauce is just an easy mash of tofu, peanut butter, soy sauce, broth and honey that becomes much more than the sum of its parts.

What you end up with is a salad that will stay crunchy even until the next day that’s loaded with creamy peanut-y goodness. If you like Asian peanut-sauce noodles, this is right up your alley.

After one taste, you’ll be making this salad often. Keeping your resolutions has never been so easy, has it?

Kale in Peanut Butter-Tofu Sauce

(Serves 4)

3 tablespoons peanut butter or other nut/seed butter

3 tablespoons warm dashi stock or low-sodium chicken stock, warmed

1 teaspoon shoyu (soy sauce)

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 block extra-firm or firm tofu (7 ounces)

5 cups thinly julienned kale with stems

1/2 cup chopped roasted unsalted peanuts or white sesame seeds

Using a spatula, mix and soften the peanut butter with the warm stock in a large bowl. Add soy sauce, honey, salt, and black pepper, and mix thoroughly.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cut tofu in half crosswise, add the tofu to the boiling water, and cook for 1 minute. Drain the tofu and wrap each piece in doubled paper towels, squeezing firmly to remove excess water. Do not worry about breaking the tofu, as you are going to crumble it later. Remove the tofu from the paper towels and transfer it to the bowl with the peanut butter. With a fork, crumble the tofu into very small pieces and mix it with the sauce. Add kale and two-thirds of the peanuts to the bowl and toss the mixture thoroughly.

Divide the salad into small bowls, garnish with remaining peanuts, and serve.

From “Hiroko’s American Kitchen” by Hiroko Shimbo

Another Kale Recipe: Raw Kale Salad with Anchovy-Date Dressing

Another Tofu Dish: Susan Feniger’s Chilled Soba Noodles with Spicy Orange Sesame and Tofu

And: Warm Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce

And: David Chang’s Cherry Tomato & Tofu Salad

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  • Very healthy and tasty! A great way to start the year.

    Best wishes for 2013!



  • Carolyn, Thank you so very much for your blog! Starting out the New Year with a healthy salad is most definitely a great idea! The only problem that I have with this salad is the fact that I do not like Tofu.
    The salad that I love to make at home is: Spring greens, shredded cabbage and carrots, a little sliced onion, preferably red, sliced apple (Pink Lady, Beacon, Honeycrisp or Sweet Tango), toasted pecan halves and a fat free dressing. I can eat this salad on a daily basis.

    Accidentally fell asleep shortly after 10 pm last night – I missed the entire “ball drop” and forgot to record it! But I see the Rose Parade twice! Have a great New Year’s Day!

  • Love kale! The sauce looks wonderful. A healthy start to 2013!

  • sounds just about perfect. I planned kale seeds and just see the sprouts, cannot wait to try with my “crop”

  • I love kale, but I definitely need to add more tofu to my diet. This looks terrific! And it’s an interesting sounding cookbook – I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for this. Definitely a great way to start the New Year.

  • Great idea. This is a much cheaper alternative than relying on my local raw food cafe. 😉

  • kale certainly has come to the forefront, hasn’t it! and rightly so, i say. this is an interesting and tasty salad!

  • Grace: You said it! Who would have ever guessed that a sturdy green would become the new “It” food? I dunno if it’ll give cupcakes a run for their money, but kale is sure making the most of its moment.

  • I have a Meat Boy at home, too, and have been pleasantly surprised by how well he has taken to kale. Making this one this week! Thanks!

  • tofu sounds horrible to me help me get over it I’ve just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and must change my eating style from American Southern to ?

  • Ella: Don’t fear tofu. LOL You can learn to love it — easily. Really fresh silken tofu is like the best custard.You can use it to make desserts and salad dressings, too. Firm tofu can be marinated, then grilled or crisped in a pan for quite a satisfying meaty texture. Tofu, itself, has a fairly faint bean-y flavor. The magic of it is that it will absorb whatever flavors you add to it. So pair it with a great sauce and you will be reaching for seconds, I promise.

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