Asparagus season is here! And, in the blink of an eye it will be gone again. So go out and buy some today. These green spears are perfect for grilling, steaming, a quick sauté, making soups, adding to risotto and much more. I even made an asparagus panna cotta dessert once. It might sound a bit strange and I guess it is, but it worked and was absolutely different and delicious. Asparagus is also great in a salad. As a chef, I always look to make the simplest of foods more tantalizing and appetizing. This recipe is a vibrant way to showcase the asparagus in a salad with an Asian twist. To keep it vegetarian, I added tofu to the dish, which gives it a little more substance. Tofu, on its own, may not be a jump-for-joy food. The fantastic thing about tofu is that it’s a great substitute for meat and can be prepared nearly the same way. Tofu can be grilled, fried, baked, steamed, sautéed, and even marinated. Now, tofu just became more interesting! The inspiration behind this dish is to keep it spring-spirited, light, vegetarian and to use as little fire as possible. So, I chose to marinate the tofu with some Asian flavors. Simply steam the asparagus, then dress it with the tofu and a truffle-soy vinaigrette, which ties the entire dish together.
With this recipe, you’ll create a great combination of flavors that allows the asparagus and tofu to complement one another nicely. Ultimately, this dish is a tasty and creative way to enjoy springtime asparagus and dazzle that boring tofu with a little Asian-inspired pizzazz.
Asparagus and Tofu Salad | Truffle-Soy Vinaigrette
- 1 bunch pencil asparagus
- 1 package firm tofu
- 3 oranges (to be used for the juice, zest and suprêmes below)
- 1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
- 2 strips of orange zest, pith removed, finely chopped (from oranges above)
- 2 scallions, light green and white part only, cut on a bias
- 1 tablespoon black and 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, mixed and lightly toasted
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons orange juice (from one of oranges above)
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons truffle oil
- Orange suprêmes (from 2 oranges above)
- Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- Sesame oil (drizzle, optional)
Step 1: Asparagus
- Carefully rinse the asparagus under cold running water.
- Cut off the hard woody end parts.
- Bring a generous pot of salted water to a boil. Add the baking soda, if using.
- Once it boils, reduce to a gentle boil. Add the asparagus. Spring asparagus are delicate and a roaring boil will ruin their appearance.
- Pencil asparagus will cook quickly! Blanch them for 30 seconds to a maximum of one minute, depending on their size. The asparagus should turn a vibrant green and maintain a nice bite.
- Immediately remove the asparagus to a bowl of ice cold water to “shock” them.
- Once cooled down, cut the elastic band and lay the asparagus out on kitchen towels to try.
Tip: Once cleaned and trimmed, gather the asparagus and wrap them together with an elastic band. This makes it much easier to blanch and remove all at one time.
Tip: A knife’s point of baking soda added to the pot of boiling water will help to lock in that vibrant green color in the asparagus.
Step 2: Marinade and Tofu
- Combine the shallots, orange juice, soy sauce and sherry vinegar.
- Whisk in the olive and truffle oils. Add a few drops of sesame oil. Taste and add more, drop by drop, if necessary. Set aside.
- Drain and rinse the tofu. Pat it dry and cut all into a uniform dice.
- Place in a bowl and toss with the chopped ginger, orange zest and a few drizzles of the vinaigrette.
- Season lightly with sea salt and black pepper and gently combine all together.
- Let marinate 10-15 minutes at room temperature.
- Now add half the sliced scallions and one tablespoon of mixed sesame seeds.
- Place all in the refrigerator and reserve until ready to serve.
- Any leftover vinaigrette may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Tip: Sesame oil is very potent! Use it one drop at a time to flavor the vinaigrette. Once you add a few drops whisk it through and taste it. Then decide if more is needed. It should only add a slight undertone of sesame flavor and aroma to this dish.
- Place five asparagus spears neatly on a serving plate.
- Season lightly with a little salt and pepper.
- Top with the marinated tofu, remaining scallions and orange suprêmes
- Drizzle all with the vinaigrette and a sprinkle of the reserved sesame seeds.
- Serve immediately
Watch the quick video below. Learn how to remove the “woodsy ends” from your asparagus.