Shiraae, or “white dressing,” is one of Japan’s most popular tofu side dishes, and a classic aemono, or “dressed salads.” It comprises of two components - seasoned mashed tofu and soy-braised vegetables. It is best chilled for 4-6 hours before serving. You can go further by using the salad to fill pouches, sandwiches or wraps.
Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the tofu and blanch for 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the tofu to a colander lined with a cheesecloth or nut milk bag. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out the excess moisture from the tofu. It is fine to mash the tofu while doing this.
Put the drained tofu in a bowl, along with the remaining ingredients. Use your fingers and crumble the tofu, mixing it with the other ingredients at the same time. Set aside until assembly of the salad.
In a saucepan, add dashi, and bring to a bare simmer. Add green beans, carrot, shiitake and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by half. Season with tamari and sake or mirin and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the liquid is almost gone and the vegetables have a glazed appearance.
Remove the saucepan from heat and let the vegetables cool to room temperature. When cool, fold the vegetables into the Shiraae dressing.
Like curries, Shiraae salad tastes better when the flavours are allowed to meld for 4 hours or overnight.
Types of tofu. Firm momen tofu will make a crumbly dressing, while silken kinugoshi tofu will make a saucy dressing. To improve digestibility or a more complex flavour, you can also use cured tofu such as tofu kojizuke or misozuke.
Seasoning the tofu dressing. Crushed sesame seeds, soy sauce, miso and sugar are common seasonings. Usukuchi soy sauce will help preserve the white colour of the dressing. For gluten-free version, use tamari instead of soy sauce, but tamari will stain the dressing light brown.
Types of vegetables. Spinach (blanched) and konnyaku (dry-roasted) are other common vegetables used in shiraae salad.
Types of aemono. Shiraae (tofu), gomaae (sesame), misoae (miso), karashiae (mustard).
Soy-free option. Replace tofu with equal amounts of soaked cashews (about 105 g dry cashews).