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Tofu Salad with Sesame Ponzu Dressing 豆腐サラダ

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    This easy Japanese Tofu Salad with Sesame Ponzu Dressing is a refreshing salad with leafy greens, tofu, corn, wakame seaweed, and fragrant Japanese herb – shiso leaves. You’ll love the tangy ponzu sauce too. It is super easy to make and goes well with many Japanese and Asian dishes. So make a big batch! 

    Refreshing Tofu Salad with Sesame Ponzu Dressing on a Japanese blue platter.

    When I make a Japanese style meal, I try to plan out the meal by following the Japanese Ichiju Sansai – “One Soup Three Dishes” rule, which involves one main dish, 2 sides, steamed rice, miso soup, and pickles.

    On a busy day (most weeknights, frankly speaking), I don’t have time to prepare two kinds of side dishes, so one of them tends to be an easy salad that I can put together in no time. This Tofu Salad with Sesame Ponzu Dressing (豆腐サラダ) is my go-to salad recipe for over decades and it’s always my family’s favorite.

    Refreshing Tofu Salad with Sesame Ponzu Dressing on a Japanese blue platter.

    Refreshing Chilled Tofu Salad with Sesame Ponzu Dressing

    Many of you have asked me if we can eat tofu without cooking it. And the answer is yes, you can eat the tofu out of the package which is sold in the grocery store’s refrigerated section.

    In the summer months, we eat Hiyayakko, which is cold tofu as an appetizer or side dish.

    Hiyayakko (Japanese Chilled Tofu) on a blue plate.

    Tofu salad is sort of an extension of Hiyayakko, served with leafy lettuce and other colorful ingredients. With soy sauce, ponzu, sesame oil, and sesame seeds in the dressing ingredients, this salad goes well with any Japanese-style meal or other Asian dishes.

    Key Ingredients for Tofu Salad with Sesame Ponzu Dressing

    Ponzu

    1. Ponzu

    Ponzu (ポン酢) is a citrus-based soy sauce packed with umami from kombu and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) and tanginess from citrus fruits. If you love ponzu, I would suggest making your own Homemade Ponzu following my recipe. It’s super easy and delicious, and you will not buy a bottle of ponzu from grocery stores anymore.

    The acidic portion of this dressing comes from the citrus ingredients to make ponzu. If you decide not to use ponzu in this recipe, make sure to add rice vinegar or other citrus fruits to compromise the acidic part.

    Tofu

    2. Soft/Silken Tofu

    Sometimes having too many choices can be a bit confusing, such as variations of tofu. Different tofu brands offer different level of softness, but in general, we have Kinugoshi Tofu (絹漉し豆腐; “silk-filtered tofu”) and Momen Tofu (木綿豆腐) in Japan. Typically for tofu salad, we use silken tofu as the texture is smooth and soft.

    Sesame Oil Kadoya

    3. Sesame Oil

    For this salad dressing recipe, I use sesame oil instead of vegetable oil. Sesame oil has a nice fragrance and it is known for its effect to trigger one’s appetite. If you don’t have sesame oil, use neutral-flavored oil such as vegetable oil (for example, olive oil is not considered “neutral flavor”).

    Yuzu Kosho

    4. Yuzu Kosho (optional)

    Yuzu Kosho (柚子胡椒) is a paste made from chili peppers, yuzu peel, and salt which is then allowed to be fermented. It’s a wonderful condiment that I highly recommend searching for when you visit a Japanese grocery store. I LOOOOVE to add a bit of this paste in my miso soup.

    Adding just a touch of yuzu kosho paste in the dressing adds some spicy and umami kick. There is nothing like this condiment. You can get this brand of yuzu kosho on Amazon (I’ve never tried it, so I can’t say much about the quality). If you did decide to buy it, let me know what you think.

    Shiso

    5. Shiso Leaves (optional)

    This Japanese herb is one of my favorites and it’s worth growing in your own garden if you can’t find it in your local Japanese grocery store (you can find the seeds from Kitazawa Seed Company).

    There is no good substitute for it in terms of flavors – the closest would be Korean/Vietnamese perilla leaves. Shiso leaves give a pleasant fragrance and flavors to the salad. If you can find them in your Japanese grocery store, you must grab them to add to this salad.

    Refreshing Tofu Salad with Sesame Ponzu Dressing on a Japanese blue platter.

    Variations for Tofu Salad + Sesame Ponzu Dressing

    Tofu is the star of this salad, but if you are not a big fan of tofu, there are other ingredients you can choose which go well with Sesame Ponzu Dressing.

    • steamed shredded chicken
    • deep-fried tofu
    • boiled shrimp
    • shabu shabu thinly sliced pork
    • boiled egg

    What else would you like to add? If you tried this recipe and have some good suggestions, let us know!

    Similar Recipes:

    Refreshing Tofu Salad with Sesame Ponzu Dressing on a Japanese blue platter.

    Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.

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    5 from 3 votes
    Refreshing Tofu Salad with Sesame Ponzu Dressing on a Japanese blue platter.
    Tofu Salad with Sesame Ponzu Dressing
    Prep Time
    15 mins
    Total Time
    15 mins
     

    This easy Japanese Tofu Salad with Sesame Ponzu Dressing is a refreshing salad with leafy greens, tofu, corn, wakame seaweed, and fragrant Japanese herb – shiso leaves. You’ll love the tangy ponzu sauce too. It is super easy to make and goes well with many Japanese and Asian dishes. So make a big batch! 

    Course: Condiments, Salad
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: ponzu, salad
    Servings: 2
    Author: Namiko Chen
    Ingredients
    Dressing
    Instructions
    1. Gather all the ingredients.
      Tofu Salad with Ponzu Sesame Dressing Ingredients
    2. Put dried wakame seaweed in water to rehydrate for 10 minutes. Once wakame is soft and tender, squeeze water out and set aside.

      Tofu Salad with Sesame Ponzu Dressing 1
    3. In a small bowl, combine 3 Tbsp Ponzu, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp sesame oil, and ⅛ tsp Kosher salt.
      Tofu Salad with Sesame Ponzu Dressing 2
    4. Add ½ Tbsp white sesame seeds and ⅛ tsp Yuzu Kosho (optional and more for spicy taste). Whisk all together.
      Tofu Salad with Sesame Ponzu Dressing 3
    5. Stack shiso leaves and cut into julienned strips.
      Tofu Salad with Sesame Ponzu Dressing 4
    6. Cut the tofu into small cubes.
      Tofu Salad with Sesame Ponzu Dressing 5
    7. Cut the lettuce into bite size pieces and place on the serving platter. Top with corn kernels and cherry tomatoes.
      Tofu Salad with Sesame Ponzu Dressing 6
    8. Place the tofu, wakame seaweed, and shiso leaves.
      Tofu Salad with Sesame Ponzu Dressing 7
    9. When ready to serve, drizzle the dressings and put some remaining on the small cup/bowl.
      Tofu Salad with Sesame Ponzu Dressing 8
    Recipe Notes

    Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

    Editor’s Note: The post was originally published on January 20, 2011. New images have been added and the content has been updated in July, 2018.

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  • Gyoza served on a plate.
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