Shiraae: Spinach Salad with Tofu Dressing
I used to work for this meal delivery company where each dish the chef prepared had a good balance of the main protein, starch, and vegetables. The vegetable side dish was always the toughest to complement my Japanese dishes because I didn't know of many ways to prepare them other than my go-to oven roast with olive oil, salt and pepper. Most of the vegetables in Japanese cuisine was incorporated into the main dish. So I had to do a bit of studying and fell in love with the shiraae tofu dressing (白和え). It makes every blanched or steamed vegetable taste delicious. This is the perfect diet food.
First, start off by pressing the tofu in a colander for 30 minutes to remove some of the water content. I usually put a plate and a bowl on top and leave it in the sink while preparing the other ingredients. I like using soft or medium tofu because it's easier to strain through the colander later on.
Wash the vegetables, peel (if needed) and cut into bite size pieces. You can really use anything here including some meats and fish but I decided to use the traditional spinach and carrots with some beech/shimeji mushrooms. Boil a pot of salted water and cook each vegetable separately (cooking time will vary depending on the vegetable). I try to cook them al dente because I don't even bother with an ice bath for this dish so there will be some carry over cooking. I like to eat this dish at room temperature so I squeeze out the water from the spinach and reserve with the carrots and mushrooms while preparing the tofu dressing.
After 30 minutes of pressing the tofu with weights, push the tofu through a fine sieve to get the above fine texture. The other option is to pulse on a food processor but I like the old fashioned method. Mix with the sugar, soy sauce, miso, and crushed toasted sesame seeds to form a paste (note: buy toasted white sesame seeds, put them in a plastic bag, seal, and use a rolling pin to crush them).
Mix the tofu dressing with the vegetables and you're done!