I was waiting patiently all summer. My heirloom tomato plants were late bloomers, you see. I ate a few tomatoes here and there when I noticed them earlier in the season, but nothing that I could harvest as a meal. Now my plants have a lot of tomatoes for the picking.
This is fusion cuisine at its best, where the classic Italian flavours from the caprese salad (tomato, mozzarella, basil and balsamic vinegar) are infused with Japanese flair.
First, a portion of small cherry tomatoes are poached, lightly cooked and skinned. The remainder remain raw and are halved. The textural contrast, with the skinned poached tomatoes and the raw crisp tomatoes was wonderful. Heirloom tomatoes, with their varying colours and tastes work really well with the mix (my green zebra tomatoes were the most sweet of all!).
Next, the traditional buffalo mozzarella is replaced with silken tofu. I realize this is sacrilegious to the purists. My brother ate caprese salad every day throughout this honeymoon in Italy, it was that good. Buffalo mozzarella can be a difficult find, and to be honest, I really liked the silken tofu as it sopped up the extra dressing. It was light, tasty and incredibly filling. This was a main meal salad, especially when I added the baby arugula.
The typical basil is replaced with shiso, which is a Japanese herb that tastes similar to mint. I decided to pluck basil from my balcony instead of searching out shiso.
The dressing was changed from a heavier balsamic to a light sherry vinaigrette with deep tones from the sesame oil and soy sauce. Now I knew this was a definitely a Japanese interpretation.
This is a tad more work than a standard salad, but trust me when I say the poaching of the tomatoes are worth it. The variety of both flavours and textures are remarkable. Together, we have a delicious salad.
This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to My Kitchen, My World, featuring Japanese dishes this month, to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Dil Se, and to Ricki and Kim’s vegan SOS challenge featuring sesame.
Japanese Tomato Tofu Caprese Salad
1/2 package silken tofu (200 g)
2 cups cherry tomatoes, preferably colourful heirloom tomatoes
1/8 cup sherry vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
handful shiso (or mint and basil), chiffonade (I used basil)
4 cups baby arugula or other mixed greens (optional)
1. Reserve 1/4 of the tomatoes, cut in half and set aside.
2. Cook and peel tomatoes but cutting a small ‘x’ on the bottom of the tomato. Drop into boiling water for 20 seconds and quickly rinse under cold water and drain. Peel the tomatoes once cool.
3. Carefully slice the tofu into different shapes. I sliced the package vertically in 1-cm slices, then punched out circles from the outline of a mug.
4. Prepare the vinaigrette by whisking together the vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce and sesame oil.
5. Combine the vinaigrette with the cooked and sliced tomatoes.
6. Place the slices of tofu on a plate, top with tomatoes and sprinkle with shiso/mint/basil chiffonade.