Today is my first attempt to write down a recipe in a format that you can follow. I’m not used to measuring. I usually cook from feeling. I start cooking with an idea and end up throwing in all sorts of different herbs, spices (and other things like the neighbour’s dog) in the process. I’m in a happy world of my own when I cook. Totally oblivious to everything other than the food and my kitchen. It’s total Zen : -)
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So to start with here are the ingredients:
1/2 kg of tomatoes (a mix of small cherry and plum tomatoes). I used 1 unripe green and 1 ripe red plum tomato. The unripe green tomatoes are almost crunchy and have a lovely tangy taste.
200 grams of soft natural tofu (not the firm type)
small bunch of water spinach (enough to get a small handful of the leaves)
green mustard leaves (or any lettuce except iceberg)
3 thai red chillis (only if you like hot)
3 kaffir lime leaves
6-8 leaves of the saw leaf herb cut into half inches
1 teaspoon each of normal light brown coloured and black sesame seeds
sea salt or rock salt
any vegetable oil suitable for frying. I used refined palm oil
1/2 tablespoon of fish sauce
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
30 ml grapefruit juice (apple or orange juice would work just as well)
1 teaspoon of soft palm sugar (brown sugar or agave syrup are good too)
1/2 teaspoon of lime juice (or lemon juice)
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
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First dry roast (without oil) both sesame seed types at once in a pan on low heat for 2 minutes. Stir and be careful because they burn quickly. As soon as they start to pop, remove from flame and transfer into a bowl (if the pan is very hot they could still burn even though the flame is off) .
Now cut the cherry tomatoes in half and cut the plum tomatoes into thick slices. If the slices are too thin they will get soggy when you pan fry them.
Heat up the vegetable oil in a skillet. I used a simple non stick frying pan (because my much adored heavy cast iron pans are stored away in my cellar in Berlin). Add 1 lime leaf (I usually scrunch the lime leaf in one hand to let more aroma out) 1 chilli (sliced lengthwise) and the garlic (I usually squash the garlic cloves with the flat side of my knife.) Then lay in half of the tomatoes so that they all touch the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Fry on a medium heat until they start to brown then turn the large slices and stir the small ones. All in all about 4 minutes ( approximately because I didn’t time myself). When both sides start to brown you can take them out of the pan but leave the lime leaves, garlic and chilli in the pan.
The remaining tomatoes- cut the plum tomatoes into small pieces and quarter the cherry tomatoes. I put them into a bowl large enough for all ingredients. Put the fried tomatoes in as well. (I quartered the large fried tomato slices).
Add some more vegetable oil into the same pan you used for the tomatoes on medium heat Add the remaining lime leaves and chillis into the pan. Then add the tofu and fry stir to stop the tofu from sticking. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Add fish sauce and stir (be careful-only a 1-2 teaspoons of fish sauce otherwise the tofu becomes too fishy.) Stir fry tofu for 4-5 minutes whilst stirring.
Transfer the contents of the pan including oil onto a plate and let it cool down a little bit.
It is also possible to skip the above step and put the crumbled tofu into the salad without heating it. But I find raw tofu has a very slight sour taste and I prefer to overtone this (and of course add more taste) by frying it.
Wash the water spinach and mustard greens. Cut off the stems of the mustard green then tear the leaves with your hands. Separate the leaves off the water cress. (I didn’t use the stems today because I didn’t want the crunchy stems to overtone the softness of the tomatoes. I will use them tomorrow for something else). Put the leaves into the bowl with the tomatoes.
To make the dressing stir the palm sugar into a cup with the grapefruit juice until the sugar is almost dissolved. Add the olive oil, grapefruit juice, lime juice and a sprinkle of salt and pepper into a cup and stir well. The magic of a good dressing I find is getting the sweet/sour/salty mix just right. So taste and adjust to your liking.
Add the tofu into the bowl with the tomatoes and stir. Then put half the sesame seeds, half the saw leaf herb and the dressing also into the bowl and mix it all carefully together. Then sprinkle the remaining saw leaf and sesame seeds on top and ENJOY!!
Preparation time: 10 min
Cook time: 10 min
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I ate this salad twice today with toasted crusty white bread and was astonished at how delicious it is. I’m usually not a fan of salads and cold food-I much prefer hot spicy food, but this salad is worth it.
I got this recipe (or actually the idea because the end dish is pretty different from the original) from
I love this website. Such beautiful pictures and passionate food!! Thank you!!!