Shan Tofu Salad [Chickpea Tofu Salad]
Shan Tofu is a 2-ingredient Burmese tofu made with chickpea flour. It is naturally gluten-free, soy-free, vegan and makes a great canvass for salads, stir-frys, and wraps for a hearty, delicious meal.
My one and only encounter with Burmese food was in San Francisco few years ago at Mandalay SF. I remember everything being VERY delicious so when I spotted Burma Superstar cookbook at my local library, I picked it up without any hesitation. The book has gorgeous photos of Burma as well as lovely stories about Burmese food, family recipes, and opening up the restaurant’s incredible flavors for everyone to enjoy. Burma Superstar is a Burmese restaurant in SF since 1992 and the book is written by the owner himself (Desmond Tan and his partner Joycelyn Lee who took over the restaurant in 2000). Here is an interview if you are interested to learn further.
I had bookmarked so many recipes - platha (like paratha/Indian flatbread), samusa soup (soup with crushed samosas), Burmese tea, semolina coconut cake but one thing led to another and I actually didn't make anything except Shan tofu. It's a chickpea flour based tofu, almost a cross between tofu and polenta, It's has bold flavors and slightly jigglly making it perfect for salads, stir fry, as well as wraps. I haven't tried it in curry substituting tofu yet but if you have tried or end up trying it, I'd be curious to hear about your experience.
Chickpea flour, also known as gram flour (or besan in Nepali and Hindi) is made from grinding chickpeas/garbanzo beans. PS. both chickpeas and garbanzo beans are the same thing; Garbanzo is a Spanish term while chickpea is the common English term. In India, it is called Bengal gram and there are two varieties, the Kabuli and Desi chana. Chickpeas are a great source of plant-based protein (1 cup of cooked garbanzo beans ~ 15 grams), fiber, low in saturated fats, as well as micro nutrients like folate, iron, manganese, thiamine etc. They are probably the most popular and widely used beans right now; I read somewhere that there could a shortage in the near future due to the ever growing demands of chickpeas as it is no longer used only in chana masala & hummus. Chickpeas are used in chips, pastas, snacks (tandoori roasted chickpeas anyone?), and baking to name a few.
Back to Shan tofu. I used store-bought chickpea flour, which you can probably pick up at most grocery stores or I know for fact you can find them at Indian or Mediterranean grocery store in the flour/rice section. You can use the chickpea flour + water mixture right away or let it ferment overnight and drain the excess water through cheesecloth. It is a slower process but supposedly produces firmer tofu. I haven't tried the latter method yet (here is the link if you are interested) but next time I might give it a try.
The traditional Burmese Shan tofu salad has little to no greens; its packed with crunchy fried garlic, onions and tamarind ginger dressing. Mine is more of a kitchen-sink salad with different greens, herbs, and miso-soy dressing. All my greens and herbs came from a local farmer who harvests fresh, pesticide free, non-GMO greens and herbs in a greenhouse environment using sustainable agricultural practices. Sage from TexSelect Farms was very generous to give me a box full of micro-greens and herbs he curated for that week, which is a service he provides at our local farmers market. You can find more more about TexSelect Farms and it's services if you are Fort Worth.
The great thing about Shan tofu is it soaks up flavors really well; you can infuse whatever herbs and spices while you are making it as well as when you incorporate it into recipes. My Shan tofu salad is packed with heirloom green red bibb lettuce, handful of mint, carrot ribbons, and drizzle of miso-soy dressing. You can really get creative with your choice of greens, seasonal veggies, herbs, and a citrusy dressing to round everything up.
I am so so excited for you guys to give Shan tofu a try and let me know what you think of it. When I posted this on insta story, few people were intrigued so I am happy to finally have this post up, just in time to get you inspired about hearty Spring salads. Yes, Shan tofu by itself is 100% soy-free, vegan, & gluten-free. Use the recipe below loosely as a guide & adapt the quantity to meet your taste buds, season, and lifestyle. The beauty of this salad is that everything can be prepared ahead of time and you can have a hearty salad ready to go whenever you want.
Shan tofu Salad [chickpea tofu salad]
Makes 1 loaf (9X5 inches)
For Shan tofu:
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 3 cups water, divided
- seasoning : pinch of turmeric, sea salt (may add cumin, chili pepper as desired)
- large handful bibb lettuce
- 2-3 sprigs of mint leaves
- 1 medium carrot, peeled into ribbons
For soy-miso dressing:
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 large heaping tablespoon miso paste; I used white miso
- 3 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 garlic, finely minced
- 2 teaspoon honey (may use brown sugar or other sweetener of your choice)
- In a large bowl, mix 1 cup of chickpea flour with 1 cup of water, turmeric and sea salt. Let it sit 10-15 minutes
- Heat a large pot over medium heat and pour chickpea mix with 2 cups of water
- Stir it frequently and let it cook for 20-25 minutes until it thickens, almost like a playdough consistency
- Transfer the sludge into a greased bread pan and smooth out the top
- Let it sit overnight. You may notice some water in the pan, which can be drained out
- Flip the pan into a cutting board and slice into cubes or strips as desired.
- When ready, assemble into a salad.
- For the dressing - add all the ingredients into a mason jar and shake it vigorously. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
- In a bowl, add your greens, herbs, veggies, along with handful of Shan tofu. Drizzle the dressing on top and enjoy.
- Shan tofu can be made ahead of time and will stay fine in the refrigerator. The only thing I have noticed is the longer it sits in the fridge, it releases more water, which will shrink the size of tofu.
Don't forget to share me your Shan tofu experience on instagram; tag @foodpleasurehealth or pin it for later use.