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Po Po’s Tofu Watercress Salad

This onolicious Tofu Watercress Salad recipe comes from my mother’s good friend’s late mother, lovingly known as “Po Po”, a name or title of one of several Chinese variants for “grandmother”. It’s a very simple dish to make, made up entirely of raw ingredients; all of which are VERY HEALTHY for you. Here’s how to make it.

First gather the ingredients…

Popo’s Tofu Watercress Salad ingredients are: 1 block Firm Tofu (use your favorite brand; I like Aloha), 1 bunch Watercress (Nakatani Farms shown), Oyster Sauce (Lee Kum Kee is the recommended brand, however I’m using the Shirakiku brand for this presentation), Sesame Oil, Chinese Parsley (Cilantro), Green Onions, Ginger, Garlic and Shoyu to finish (not shown).

Begin by draining as much water out of the Tofu as possible. Do this by placing it on a dry paper towel (you’ll need several as they get soaked up) and press the tofu somewhat firmly to squeeze the water out like a sponge…

Turn it on all sides and repeat the squeeze out. Let the tofu sit on the side on a dry paper towel while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Now roughly chop the Watercress into bite-size pieces; I like stems, but if you don’t, just use the leaves. Do the same for the Chinese Parsley, while for the Green Onions, chop it into smaller pieces at your discretion.

For the ginger and garlic, peel, finely mince, then set all ingredients aside like this…

Cut the tofu into bite size pieces of approximately 1″ cubes.

Time to build the salad. On your favorite serving platter at least 12″ in diameter, first layer a bed of the chopped watercress (approximately 4 cups worth)…

Arrange the cubed Tofu over the bed of Watercress…

Now generously drizzle the Oyster Sauce over the Tofu, making sure there’s enough to flavor the entire dish…

Then evenly sprinkle the minced Ginger and Garlic over the dish…

That’s approximately 2 tablespoons each of fresh minced Ginger and Garlic. No scade, choke ’em! Can’t get enough of the stuff!

Top the dish with the chopped Chinese Parsley and Green Onions…

The final step is the absolute KEY to this dish, and what makes it very Chinese both in method and flavor. In a small pan, heat up about 3/4 cup of Sesame Oil until just the point that it starts to smoke…

Once the Sesame Oil is smokin’ hot (literally), pour it evenly and slowly over the Tofu Watercress dish…

If the Sesame Oil is as sizzlin’ hot as it should be, you’ll hear a snap-crackle-pop as it lands on the moisture of the tofu and other ingredients. That hot Sesame Oil helps “glue” and marry the Oyster sauce with everything, melting the finished dish into this, this, this… unctuousness. lol

Finish it by drizzling your favorite brand of Shoyu on the dish at your discretion of quantity…


Let the dish stand for about 15 minutes at room temperature to let the Oyster Sauce, Sesame Oil, Shoyu and fragrance of the ginger and garlic soak into the tofu, gettin’ all happy ‘n stuff, then serve and enjoy!

To explain how this dish tastes, the classic Chinese combination of ginger, garlic, cilantro, and green onions, along with the savory-sweet oyster sauce and robust, salty shoyu can make a Flip-Flop (rubbah slippah) taste great (Guy Fieri’s line), and it certainly makes the raw, uncooked tofu and peppery watercress here taste AWESOME! The perfect blend of “meaty-meets-green”, thanks to the Oyster Sauce infused into the protein-rich tofu and all said greens that envelop it.

The nutty flavor profile of the Sesame Oil adds further dimension, while it also helps mask the “rawness” of everything.

If I had to choose just one word for Po Po’s Tofu Watercress Salad, I’d say it’s “INVIGORATING”.

You could certainly change things up here, such as omitting the watercress if you don’t like that, or even swapping out the tofu with a steamed or pan-fried whole fish such as Moi or Opakapaka.

P.S. While we’re on the subject of healthy eating, I’ve recently taken up healthy drinking as well, going on a Japanese Green Tea “kick”…

More on that in an upcoming post.

13 thoughts on “Po Po’s Tofu Watercress Salad

  • May 20, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    Hello Pomai,

    I made a salad almost like this but I deep fried the tofu for different texture. I like my garlic not too raw so I after deep fried tofu put pan and stir garlic and tofu to have more favor to it. The rest is same.

    • May 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm

      I forgot to mention that option in this post, where I was going to mention that if you don’t like the ingredients raw, by all means saute them first in the sesame oil. Especially the garlic and watercress, which both have quite a “bite” in raw form. I like that, but some may not.

  • May 21, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Ah, disco. Such a guilty pleasure.

    I have considerably less body hair than Barry Gibb, but can’t come anywhere near singing that high. Maybe it’s his super-tight jeans.

    • May 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm

      I think having considerably less body hair and super-tight jeans should make your voice as high as Mariah Carey at her peak. lol

  • May 21, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    I have eaten what you described with steamed fish but not with tofu. Good of your Popo to share this recipe with you.

    And FWIW, Bulldog tastes great with tofu. Don’t ask me why…

    Amy, if you want to take the bite out of raw garlic, drop it in boiling water for about 30 seconds and pat dry. Mellows it out quite a bit.

    • May 26, 2012 at 5:20 pm

      Bulldog sauce with Tofu, eh? I’ll most definitely try it! And blog it!

  • May 24, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Looks tasty. Nice pics. Glad to see you posting again.

  • May 24, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Looks like the kind of healthy recipes I should be postin’… instead of offals…

    • May 26, 2012 at 5:18 pm

      Sprinkle 10mg of powdered Lisinopril over the Offals and it should be OK. lol

  • May 26, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Looks so ono! However, I’m not a fan of watercress, although I’ve tried! Do you think a mixture of spring greens, or even chopped romaine, would be a good substitution? Also, thanks for the video. RIP, Robin Gibb.

    • May 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      The romaine should work, but I’d add it AFTER pouring the sizzlin’ hot sesame oil over the dish. Perhaps add the romaine around the perimeter just before serving.


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