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Spicy Cucumber Bean Curd Salad

Chinese cucumber bean curd salad is based on a dish from my childhood. The traditional (non-vegan) recipe consists of julienned cucumbers, sliced tofu sheets, thinly-sliced beef, mixed with a umamiful dressing of garlic, soy sauce and chili oil. For this salad, I’ve left out the beef but it is still flavourful and highly refreshing.

bean curd cucumber salad
cucumber bean curd salad

What You’ll Need

This simple hot-weather salad uses minimal ingredients so you can make this even when it’s too hot to spend time in the kitchen:

  • Bean curd strips (you can find these in the refrigerated or frozen sections of most Asian supermarkets). Alternatively, you can use a bean pasta like Zeroodle, Liviva, etc. They have a similar chew and texture and have the advantage of being shelf-stable because they’re dry. I’m using mung bean spaghetti here, but I’ve also had great success with edamame spaghetti and soybean spaghetti.
  • Cucumber. Use an English cucumber which are best for eating raw, instead of field cucumbers or slicing cucumbers, which have thicker, tough skin.
  • Garlic. You can add more garlic than specified, if you want. When I make this for my garlic fiend of a boyfriend, I double the amount.
  • Soy sauce or Maggi Liquid Seasoning.
  • Chili crisp (such as Lao Gan Ma brand).
  • Some optional toppings include: shichimi togarashi, sesame seeds, cilantro, and scallion.
bean curd cucumber salad

Step-by-Step Process

Start with boiling your bean curd or Zeroodles, then rinse in cold water and drain.

boiled zeroodles

Slice up cucumbers into thin 2-inch strips. Alternatively, you can put them in a ziploc bag and smash them. This is another popular Chinese technique for preparing cucumbers.

Add cucumbers to the boiled bean curd.

Add chili crisp.

adding chili crisp to bean curd salad

Add crushed garlic.

adding garlic to bean curd salad

Optional: shichimi togarashi to taste.

adding shichimi togarashi to bean curd salad

Optional: Add chopped cilantro, scallions, and sesame seeds. Give it a good mix and serve cold!

topping bean curd salad with fresh herbs (cilantro and scallion)

Boyfriend-Approved Salad!

As mentioned above, this is a dish I’ve been eating since childhood, but it usually contained meat. Feeling nostalgic recently, I tried making the vegan version simply by taking out the beef and turns out it still tastes fantastic. The beancurd strips / soybean zeroodles provide a chewy, proteinaceous texture with no need for any animal products.

In fact, my boyfriend, whom I have never known in three years to willingly eat a salad, enjoyed this and even wanted me to make it again! Ofc, the Lao Gan Ma chili crisp has to take most of the credit here—put that shit on ANYTHING and it’ll taste amazing.

cucumber bean curd salad

Ingredient FAQ

A note on the chili sauce: as mentioned, the chili crisp is important for the spicy-savoury flavour here, but a chili oil can work too. You can use Lao Gan Ma, which is the most widely available and my favourite, or any other brand. I’ve probably used three or four different brands of chili crisp at this point and they all do the job, though I find myself returning to Lao Gan Ma.

Maggi or soy sauce?

In the past, I’ve always made cucumber bean curd salad with soy sauce. I never tried maggi sauce until a month or so ago when my mom turned me onto it. It’s a super flavourful sauce that looks exactly the same as soy sauce, but IMO tastes even better. Maggi is slightly less acidic than soy sauce and works really well in this recipe. I imagine that most people are more likely to have soy sauce than maggi in their pantry, but if you do have maggi, definitely give it a go in this recipe.

What’s shichimi togarashi?

It’s a Japanese spice mix. I’ve yet to find an Asian-style recipe that a sprinkle of shichimi togarashi doesn’t work on. I buy mine from Silk Road Spice Merchant (Canada-wide shipping!!). If you don’t have any, that’s fine too. The base ingredients (garlic, chili crisp, soy sauce) provide enough flavour already, which is why I noted that the toppings are optional.

bean curd salad


Recipe Card

cucumber bean curd salad
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5 from 1 vote

Spicy Cucumber Bean Curd Salad

Spicy, garlicky cucumber bean curd salad is a classic Chinese cold dish. The bean curd in this refreshing, high-protein vegan recipe can be subbed by Zeroodles.
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 15 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 1 bowl
Calories: 364kcal
Cost: $1.06

Ingredients

Salad Base

  • 85 g bean curd strips *can sub with 45g dried bean spaghetti (eg. Zeroodle)
  • 1/2 English cucumber 200g; see Note 1
  • 3 cloves garlic 15g
  • 1–2 tbsp chili crisp or chili oil 12–25 g
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce or maggi sauce 15g

Optional Toppings

  • 1 tsp shichimi togarashi
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped scallion

Instructions

  • Boil the bean curd strips or soybean spaghetti for 2 minutes, then drain. (No need to rinse.) Alternatively, you can place them with 1 cup of water into an Instant Pot and set on high pressure for 0 minutes, followed by Quick Release.
  • (Skip this step if you're using pre-sliced bean curd strips or spaghetti.) Slice the cooled bean curd sheets into ½- to ¼-inch wide strips. Add to a salad bowl.
  • Slice the cucumber into ½-inch thick pieces. Add to the salad bowl.
  • Pound garlic into a rough mash using a pestle and mortar. Alternatively, you can use a garlic press or just mince it up really fine, but I find mortar and pestle to be the quickest and easiest option.
  • Add garlic, chili crisp, and soy sauce to the bowl. Mix everything together.
  • Add any toppings if you wish!

Recipe Notes

  1. Instead of cucumber, I’ve also made this salad with lettuce and spinach. (I prefer to blanch them before slicing because I like the cooked versions better than raw—yeah I know.)

Did you make this recipe? Please consider leaving a rating and comment below to let me know how it went.

You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @earthtoveg #earthtoveg, I will shout you out in my Stories!

Nutrition, Cost, and Emissions Information

Each bowl of salad is 364 cal, costs $1.06, and releases 415 gCO2e of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

To reach the global Paris Agreement emissions target, it’s recommended to limit daily carbon emissions from food to 3,050 kgCO2e/day per person.

Nutrition data is provided by Cronometer (click the link at the bottom of the nutrition label to learn more). Feel free to contact me for sources on the cost and carbon emissions information presented here.

I am not a nutritionist and guidelines on this page are provided for informational purposes only.

bean curd salad

More Salad Recipes

I’ll be honest, there aren’t a whole lot of salad recipes on this site because we in this household are quite salad-hesitant. Not only do I not make many salads, finding one that’s good enough for posting is even more rare. However, here are two that I made and quite enjoyed recently

  1. Olivie Salad, aka Russian Salad! It’s a totally different type of salad from this one: potatoey, tangy, and creamy. But go and give it a shot if you’d like a twist from regular old potato salad recipes!
  2. Kısır Salad, a Turkish recipe with bulgur and tons of fresh herbs.
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2 thoughts on “Spicy Cucumber Bean Curd Salad”

  1. 5 stars
    I made this using this package of “tofu noodles” I found at the Asian store. Is tofu noodle the same thing as beancurd?

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