Silken tofu salad is a refreshing and delicious dish that’s perfect for any meal. This salad combines the smooth, creamy texture of silken tofu with a flavorful dressing made from roasted sesame seeds, garlic, and ginger. It’s light, healthy, and packed with Asian flavors.

Whether you’re a tofu lover or trying it for the first time, this salad is sure to become a favorite. Ready in just 15 minutes, it’s a no-cook recipe that’s perfect for warm summer nights.

Photo shows a bowl of silken cold tofu salad bowl with garlic sesame tofu dressing served with cucumber and chicken.

What is the difference between silken tofu and soft tofu?

  • Texture: Silken tofu has a higher water content than soft tofu, making it smoother, silkier, and creamier.
  • Labeling: In Asia, silken tofu can also be labeled as soft tofu, and it comes in various firmness levels.
  • Preparation: Both silken and soft tofu can be eaten raw without cooking, and they should not be pressed.
  • Packaging: You can find them in tetra pak packaging, like Mori-Nu silken tofu (vacuum-sealed cartons that don’t need refrigeration), or in plastic tubs with a film cover in the refrigerator aisle.
  • Quality: A good quality soft tofu tastes milky, fresh, and absolutely delicious. In the U.S., it can be hard to find great tofu, so whenever possible, shop at Japanese or Korean stores, or purchase organic silken tofu for the best options.

Ingredients

This cold tofu recipe uses simple ingredients you can easily find at any grocery store. Each ingredient adds its own special flavor or texture to make the dish delicious.

Photo shows ingredients needed to assemble the silken tofu dish.

For the tofu salad:

  • Silken tofu: Offers a smooth, creamy base for the salad.
  • Mini Persian cucumbers: Adds a fresh, crisp texture.
  • Cooked chicken (optional): Provides a protein boost and hearty texture.
  • Black and white sesame seeds: Adds a finishing touch of flavor and nutty aroma.
Photo shows ingredients used to assemble tofu dressing.

Tofu dressing:

  • White sesame seeds, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, salt, and coconut brown sugar
  • Chinese sesame paste or tahini
  • Chinese black vinegar or aged balsamic vinegar

Substitutions

  • Use soft tofu if you can’t find silken tofu.
  • Use peanut butter if you can’t find sesame paste. It might alter the sauce flavor a bit, but it’ll still be very good.
  • What not to use: Firm or extra firm tofu. They are denser and the texture doesn’t work well for cold tofu salad. Firm textured tofu is best used for stir fry, bake, or air fry such as my Salt and Pepper Tofu.

How to remove silken tofu from the box

In the US, silken tofu is solidified in its container with no gaps, making it tricky to remove without breaking. Follow these instructions to keep its shape.

Person demos how to remove silken tofu from the packaging without damaging it.
  1. Open the package: Make a shallow slit in one corner with a small paring knife to help you peel away the cover.
  2. Drain the liquid: Carefully tilt the box slightly to drain away excess liquid.
  3. Invert the tofu: Place a small cutting board over the tofu, then carefully invert it so the back of the tofu box is facing you.
  4. Trim the corners: Take a sharp knife or kitchen shears and make small cuts to trim away all 4 corners.
Person demos how to properly take silken tofu out of the container box.
  1. Loosen the tofu: Gently press the box from the center to create gaps that allow air to enter, helping the tofu to loosen from the packaging. If that doesn’t work, insert a small paring knife in one of the corners near the bottom to create a bigger air gap.
  2. Slice the tofu: Slice the tofu into ½ inch thick and 1.5 inch wide pieces, giving you about 16 pieces.
  3. Chill: Carefully transfer the tofu pieces to a large serving pasta bowl and chill them in the fridge.

TIP: If you find the process above challenging, try using tetra pak silken tofu or “soft tofu” that’s usually packaged in water for easier removal.

More tofu salad dressing ideas

Soft silken tofu has a high water content and will start to shed extra water as soon as it’s removed from the package, which can dilute the sauce. So, it’s best to pair it with either a creamier or stronger flavor dressing. Here are more options:

For a creamy, nutty flavor

  • Try using Bang Bang sauce for a rich and slightly spicy taste, Thai peanut sauce for a smooth, sweet, and savory flavor, or Vietnamese peanut sauce which adds a tangy twist to the creaminess.

For a savory kick


Make ahead and storage

You’ll have extra dressing leftovers, which is perfect for other salads or even cold noodles. Just thin it with a bit more water, and you’re good to go!

This dish shines when served cold and fresh. If you’re prepping ahead, keep each component separate in an airtight container and mix them together right before serving for the best texture and flavor.

The dressing can be made up to 5 days ahead. If it thickens too much, just add a splash of water to get it back to the perfect consistency. For the best results, prepare the tofu and cucumber on the day you plan to serve the salad.


What to serve with tofu salad

To make your meal even more satisfying, here are some great dishes to pair with your Asian tofu salad:

Rice and Noodles

Protein Dishes

Veggie Sides

Helpful tips

  • Handling Silken Tofu: Be gentle when removing silken tofu from its package. Follow the step-by-step instructions to avoid breaking the tofu.
  • Balancing the Dressing: Keep the dressing slightly thicker since the tofu will release extra water, diluting the sauce. Adjust the consistency with water as needed.
  • Chilling the Ingredients: Chill the tofu and cucumbers in the fridge before assembling the salad. This ensures the salad is served cold and refreshing.
  • Preparing Ahead: Make the dressing up to 5 days in advance, but prepare the tofu and cucumbers on the day of serving for the best texture and freshness.
  • Storing Extra Dressing: The leftover dressing can be used for other salads or cold noodle dishes. Thin it with a bit of water if it thickens too much in the fridge.

FAQs

Can you eat silken tofu raw?

Yes, you can eat silken tofu raw. It’s smooth, creamy, and perfect for salads, desserts, or straight out of the package.

What is silken tofu best for?

Silken tofu is best for cold tofu salads, smoothies, soups, and desserts due to its smooth and creamy texture.

Does silken tofu have to be cooked?

No, you can enjoy silken tofu raw. You can also warm it by steaming, poaching, or microwaving for 45 seconds. Drain moisture before adding sauce.

More recipes using silken tofu

If you enjoyed this cold tofu dish, here are some other delicious recipes you might love. They’re perfect for exploring different ways to enjoy tofu and more!

  • Silken Tofu Recipe with Roasted Sesame Dressing: A creamy and flavorful dish that highlights the delicate texture of silken tofu with a nutty, roasted sesame dressing.
  • Air Fryer Tofu Puffs: Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, these tofu puffs are a tasty and healthy snack or addition to any meal.
  • Silken Tofu Chocolate Smoothie: A rich and creamy smoothie that combines the smoothness of silken tofu with the indulgence of chocolate.
  • Silken Tofu Kimchi Soup: A spicy and comforting soup that pairs the creaminess of silken tofu with the bold flavors of kimchi.
A recipe image shows silken tofu salad with shaved cucumber, diced chicken, and a creamy tofu salad dressing.
No ratings yet

Silken tofu salad recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: ChihYu Smith
Discover the deliciousness of silken tofu salad: a refreshing, no-cook dish packed with Asian flavors and creamy tofu texture.
Print Pin Rate

Video

Ingredients 

Chinese garlic sesame dressing: (Makes ⅔ cup)

  • 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 0.2 oz garlic clove, grated, one medium
  • ½ tsp grated ginger, one small piece, 0.1 oz
  • 2-3 tbsp Chinese sesame paste, or tahini
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 0.5 tbsp Chinese black vinegar, or aged balsamic vinegar, optional
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1-1.5 tsp coconut brown sugar, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp water, or more to thin

Silken tofu:

  • 14 oz Silken tofu, 1 carton, chilled
  • 3-4 whole mini persian cucumber
  • 1.5 to 2 cups cooked chicken, diced, optional
  • Sprinkle toasted black and white sesame seeds

Instructions 

Tofu salad dressing:

  • Dry roast the sesame seeds over a cast iron pan over medium-low heat until the seeds are lightly roasted and in light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer the seeds to a small food processor or grinder and pulse a few times. Transfer to a large measuring cup.
  • Combine with the ingredients from garlic to brown sugar. Add one tablespoon of water to thin the sauce and add more water if needed. Keep the sauce on a slightly thicker side because the silken tofu will shed excess moisture to the salad and dilute the sauce when you serve.

To remove silken tofu from the box:

  • To open the package, make a shallow slit in one corner, using a small paring knife to help you peel away the cover.
  • Carefully tilt the box slightly to drain away excess liquid. Place a small cutting board over the tofu and carefully invert it so the back of the tofu box is facing you.
  • Take a sharp knife or kitchen shear and make small cuts to trim away all 4 corners. Gently pressing the box from the center to create gaps to allow the air to enter therefore helps the tofu to loosen from the packaging.
  • If that doesn’t work, insert a small paring knife in one of the corners as close to the bottom of the box as possible to help create a bigger air gap to help push out the tofu.
  • Slice it into ½ inch thick and 1.5 inch wide pieces so you will have about 16 pieces of silken tofu. Carefully transfer them to a large serving pasta bowl and chill it in the fridge.

Cucumber & Chicken:

  • Shaved Cucumber: Rinse and pat dry the cucumber. Trim away tip ends. Use a vegetable Y peeler to peel the cucumber lengthwise into wide and long strips. Set on a small plate and chill in the fridge.
  • Chicken (if using): dice the cooked chicken into bite sizes. Gather into a bowl and chill in the fridge.

Serving:

  • With one hand holding the tofu, carefully and slightly tilt the bowl over the kitchen sink to drain away excess water in the bowl then, add the cucumber and chicken, if using, to the bowl next to the tofu. Pour a few tablespoons of dressing over the tofu and sprinkle with more sesame seeds on top. Serve cold and immediately.

Notes

  • You will have extra dressing left. You can thin it with more water and it’s a great sauce for salad dressing and cold noodles, too.
  • This dish is best served cold and immediately. If making ahead, store each component separately and only combine them when you are ready to serve.
  • The dressing can be made 5 days ahead. Thin with a bit more water if it becomes too thick. The tofu and cucumber should be made on the day of serving.
  • About silken tofu:
    • To make it easier, I recommend either using a tetra pak silken tofu or using “soft tofu” that’s usually packaged in water for easy removal.
    • Neither silken nor soft tofu should be pressed. They naturally contain a higher volume of water, making it the perfect food to enjoy on hot summer days to stay cool and rehydrated.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 215kcal, Carbohydrates: 7g, Protein: 20g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 39mg, Sodium: 698mg, Potassium: 365mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 28IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 63mg, Iron: 2mg
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Taiwanese
Keyword: Silken tofu salad, tofu salad
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?Tag @iheartumami.ny on Instagram and hashtag it #iheartumami.

Made a dish and love it? Please remember to rate the recipe and leave a comment in the comment section below! It helps my blog grow organically so I can continue sharing free and awesome content with you. Thank you!