Shiitake tofu salad

Leah’s Notebook:

Summer officially begins on June 21. We had our first taste of summer, though, this week when the temperatures in San Francisco and where I live across the bay rose to the low 80’s. While the hot weather was preferred by others, I really like (love!) the cold seasons. Funny that I grew up in the Philippines which is a tropical country. I do appreciate the weather when it is gorgeously and comfortably warm in the 60’s or 70’s — sunny with a nice breeze. As I am writing this today (Sunday, June 12), it is 63 degrees and overcast. I will take this for now after the sweltering heat we had in the last 3 days! What I have been enjoying though was the longer hours of daylight where it is still bright until 9 pm. It gives me time after work to play in my little garden where I am growing pumpkins, tomatoes and chili peppers which are among some of the produce that I am praying I will get to harvest in the fall. I am also trying to grow sunflowers from seeds but the squirrels keep on eating them! (The flowers in the pictures are from my own garden, by the way!)

Wishing you a beautiful summer (that is not too hot!) with plenty of fun in the sun, or whatever season you are currently in where you live!

Shiitake Tofu Salad with Toasted Sesame Dressing

This dish is perfect anytime of the year but most especially when the temperatures are up. It is light, healthy, earthy and delicious. Even if you only make the dressing to be used for other salads or dishes, I guarantee that you will find it flavorful and nice.

*This recipe has been adapted from the recipe book “Mushroom” by Johnny Acton and Nick Sandler.


  • 8 oz firm tofu, drained and cut into bite-sized cubes
  • About 3 cups thinly sliced fresh Shiitake caps
  • A bunch of arugula
  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 2 TBSP sesame oil
  • 1 TBSP low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp garlic, chopped
  • 1 sprig cilantro, chopped
  • 1 TBSP fish sauce
  • Red chili peppers, chopped or left whole, depending on how spicy you prefer (optional)


  • 1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 TBSP sesame oil
  • 1 TBSP honey (or sugar according to taste)
  • 2 TBSP low-sodium soy sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime


  1. Drain the tofu in a colander. Squeeze tofu gently to release extra water. Pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Cut into bite-sized cubes.
  3. Season with a little bit of soy sauce and sesame oil then pan-fry in vegetable oil until golden. Set aside.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons sesame oil in the pan. Stir-fry the Shiitake mushrooms in the sesame oil with the ginger, garlic and red chili peppers (if using). Add the fish sauce. Cook until the mushrooms have released their juices.
  5. Add the tofu with the Shiitake mixture.
  6. MIx together the ingredients for the dressing in a separate bowl.
  7. Toss the arugula with the dressing.
  8. Place the mushrooms and tofu on top of the arugula. Top with chopped cilantro.


  1. For low-sodium version of this dish, feel free to use less fish sauce and soy sauce. However, do not omit the fish sauce. It really adds a nice umami flavor to the dish. I used a scant 1/2 teaspoon and it still livened up the dish.
  2. I also used tamari instead of soy sauce for the dressing. Tamari is naturally sweet. I reduced the sugar to just a teaspoon and it was perfect for me.
  3. Do not skip toasting the sesame seeds. Toasting in a dry pan releases the lovely oils of the sesame seeds. It takes just few seconds. Watch that they do not burn!
  4. I have not tried using regular mushrooms in this recipe but brown mushrooms will probably work in place of Shiitake Shiitake mushrooms have distinct lovely earth flavors. Give them a try if you have not yet.
  5. I love arugula for its slightly bitter nutty bite. Spinach or watercress will probably work in place of arugula.


4 responses to “Shiitake tofu salad”

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