Spinach Salad with Seared Misoyaki Tofu

It’s that time of the year when some of us have ditched our healthy eating New Year’s resolutions while others are still attempting to hold on with dear life.

I’m in that second group and am doing my best to eat clean and healthy — with the help of a ton of lighter soups, healthy grains, and wintry salads. I know, when I write winter salads, you’re probably saying, “oh, great, that’s sure to be boring,” but  it really doesn’t have to be that way.

My search for an interesting seasonal salad combined with my recent time in Hawaii led me to create this green salad topped with some seared miso-marinated tofu. It’s meatless, healthy, and made with ingredients available (to most of us) throughout the winter. The element that separates it from other, more predictable salads is the misoyaki tofu. Here I used the marinade with tofu but, if you’re not a fan, you could use it with salmon, tuna, or chicken. But, another resolution of mine has been to eat less meat so meatless sources of protein like tofu and I have become close friends.

Of course, if you’re in the camp whose already ditched your resolutions, you can still enjoy this marinade — let it sit with pork tenderloin or rib eye steak for a few hours (even up to 48 hours) then grill or broil it with the best of them.

Misoyaki Tofu Salad

Spinach Salad with Seared Misoyaki Tofu Recipe

Miso is a condiment that is made with fermented soybeans and other grains. In Japan, it’s used to flavor soups, dipping sauces, meats, and in dressings. There are a ton of varieties of miso, but, in general, the darker misos are saltier and more pungent while the lighter ones are sweeter and milder.

  • Makes: 4 salads (yields 1 cup marinade and 1/3 cup dressing)
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Hands-On Time: 25 minutes


  • For the marinade:
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1/4 cup sake
  • 2 tablespoons honey or brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white or yellow (mellow) miso
  • 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
  • For the tofu:
  • 1 tablespoon canola, grapeseed, or peanut oil
  • 1 (14-ounce) package firm, water-packed tofu, rinsed, patted dry and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • For the dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • For the salad:
  • 4 ounces mixed greens (mizuna, spinach, tatsoi, or cress all work well)
  • 1 Japanese cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 4 green onions, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 1 handful sunflower, radish, or broccoli sprouts, rinsed well
  • 4 breakfast radishes, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 3 small carrots, ends trimmed, thinly sliced


For the marinade:

Combine mirin, sake, and honey or sugar in a small pan. Whisk to dissolve honey and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer until alcohol smell is cooked off and mixture is reduced by half, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove from heat, stir in miso, ginger, and garlic. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. (This can be done up to 24 hours in advance.)

For the tofu:

Heat oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the tofu and cook, undisturbed, until it forms a brown crust, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and repeat on second side. Add marinade to pan and cook, stirring constantly, until bubbly, thick, and the color of peanut butter, about 1 to 2 minutes more.

For the dressing:

Combine all the ingredients in an airtight jar, twist on the top, and shake vigorously until well combined. Add salt and sugar as desired. (Can be made up to 24 hours in advance.)

To serve, divide greens and remaining ingredients among four salad bowls. Dress each bowl with about 1 tablespoon of the dressing then top with fried tofu; pass additional dressing on the side.

Lunch // Dinner Meatless Recipes Salad // Sandwich // Soup Travel