Sichuan Silken Tofu Salad

Don’t be intimidated by the name- not all Sichuan food is flaming hot! Authentic Sichuan food is a melody of flavors with different depths, notes, and aromas that hit all your sense receptors at the same time. There are seven flavors that form the pillars of Chinese cooking: sweet (tian) comes from honey or sugar, sour (suan) comes from vinegar, salty (xian) comes from salt of soy, fragrant (xiang) from garlic and ginger, bitter (ku) from scallions and leeks, nutty (ma) from sesame seeds or oils, and hot (la) from red chilies. This dish combines all seven flavors in one light, healthy dish that’s fast and easy to make.

For a different take on this recipe, try making this with firm grilled tofu or serve over cold rice noodles. You can also save the leftover sauce and drizzle it over other dishes- it’s great with dumplings, or even as a salad dressing. The sauce will stay fresh for weeks in the fridge if you seal it in an air-tight jar.

This recipe makes two servings.


  • one block silken tofu (about 500 g)
  • 3 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar (Zhenjiang or Chinkiang vinegar, 镇江香)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar (I recommend brown sugar for more depth of flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (紹興酒)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon hot bean paste (doubanjiang, 豆瓣酱)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons chili oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sichuan pepper corn (花椒)
  • A handful of scallions, chopped
  • A handful of coriander leaves, chopped
  • A handful of crispy shallots or crispy onions
  • A handful of red bell pepper, finely diced


  1. Slice the tofu and place it nicely on a serving plate.
  2. In a dry skillet, toast the Sichuan peppercorns until lightly aromatic. Let cool, and then grind into a powder (use a mortar and pestle or an electric spice grinder).
  3. Put the soy sauce, vinegar, Shaoxing, water, sugar, garlic, ginger, hot bean paste, sesame oil, chili oil, and Sichuan pepper in a jar, seal and shake until sugar has melted.
  4. Taste sauce and adjust seasoning to your liking, then pour over the tofu and top with the diced pepper, scallions, fried shallots, and coriander.
  5. Place in the fridge until ready to serve.