Tofu, Sesame and Spinach Napoleans

Pots and Pans

Once upon a time, eons ago, in the days when I lived in Sydney and my daughter was not far away, I cooked a dinner of immense simplicity and extraordinary flavours. It was a celebration dinner, being admitted to the (in legal terms) bar is no small thing, and my daughter had celebrated long into the previous night. The family was gathering, she needed all of her willpower to make it through the evening, but as I cooked I gave her this recipe and asked her to put it together.

It was the first time that we had made this dish. We cook together often and we have a wonderful kitchen dance, as we call it. Even in the tiniest of spaces, we who both love the touch and smell of our ingredients, can operate without bumping into each other, almost knowing instinctively what the other is thinking, what the other is doing.

She served this dish to the gathering family and all went silent as we ate, tasted, could not get the words from our tastebuds to our brain to our mouths. Silent eating, always the mark of a great dish.

This wonderful dish, full of the flavours of Japan without being Japanese, the flavours of SE Asia without being South East Asian, was constructed that night and became an instant family success. We made it often, but somehow, as we no longer all live so close together, it has fallen from our menus. Tonight I made it again. I had two helpings!

It makes a great first course – or a light meal. Enjoy!

Tofu Spinach Napoleon

Ingredient Notes

The ingredients can all be purchased from an Asian/Oriental food market. These days often supermarkets and organic shops will stock the ingredients as well.

Use a good quality soy sauce. I used shoyu this time and loved it.

If you are buying miso paste for the first time, you will find that there are a range of types, from white through yellow to darker miso. There is also rice miso and barley miso. The darker the colour the more intense the flavour. For this recipe use a lighter miso, yellow or white.

If you don’t have or can’t find sambal oelek, use a chilli paste (bought or home made). Modify the amount to suit your heat preferences.

Jaggery or Palm Sugar is so very good in this dish. If you cannot source either, use a brown or raw sugar.

Sesame Oil comes in light or toasted. Both have their uses – toasted has a more intense flavour and goes well in this dish.

Pickled Ginger – I have used umeboshi plum paste with a splash of lemon juice in place of pickled ginger when I haven’t been able to get any. It is a different taste but it works a treat.

Tofu Spinach Napoleon

Spinach and Tofu Napoleons

Source : inspired by a recipe in Blue Ginger by Min Tsai
Cuisine: Japanese and Asian in flavours
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 0 mins
Serves: 4 people, depending how you use it (2 or 3 for a light lunch)

4 Tblspn rice wine vinegar
1 Tblspn soy sauce
2 Tblspn yellow miso (could be called light miso)
1 Tblspn sambal oelek (if you have a REALLY hot brand, use less)
0.25 Tblspn jaggery or palm sugar
2 Tblspn pickled ginger
1 Tblspn toasted sesame oil
120ml canola (rapseed) oil, or other oil
1 bunch spring onions (called scallions in the US)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
115g baby spinach leaves
450g firm tofu

for garnish
4 pieces pickled ginger
1 Tblspn sesame seeds

First, slice the spinach leaves into 1/2cm slices (gather a handful together and slice). Chop the spring onions. Slice the tofu into thin slices – you will need 12 slices for 4 people. Put the spinach and tofu aside as you make the dressing.

In a blender, combine the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, miso paste, sambal oelek, palm sugar and  pickled ginger into a food processor or blender and blend. Drizzle in the sesame and canola oils to form an emulsion with the blender running, Season with salt and pepper, reserve 4 Tblspn and transfer rest to a large bowl.

Add the spring onions and spinach to the bowl with the dressing and gently combine.

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan over medium heat. Watch carefully, shaking the pan, and remove from the heat as they begin to colour. Pour onto a plate to stop them cooking further.

To shape the Napoleons, place a slice of tofu on a plate and add a layer of spinach. Top with a second slice of tofu, and a second layer of spinach. Finish with a layer of tofu. Make 4 Napoleons this way, directly on the plates. Drizzle each serving with 1 Tblspn reserved dressing and garnish with the whole pickled ginger and toasted sesame seeds.

Serve in the middle of large white square plates.

The Japanese Series


About Ganga108

Heat in the Kitchen, Cooking with Spirit. Temple junkie, temple builder, temple cleaner. Lover of life, people, cultures, travel. Champion of growth, change and awareness. Taker of photos. Passionate about family. Happy.
This entry was posted in 02 Late Summer, 03 Early Autumn, Asian, Fast Food, Spinach, Tofu, Yoghurt and Paneer, VEGETARIAN and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Tofu, Sesame and Spinach Napoleans

  1. Kip says:

    This. Sounds. So. Good! Printing it now so I don’t forget to try it ASAP.


  2. Maninas says:

    Sounds absolutely perfect!


  3. kathryn says:

    What a lovely, lovely recipe Ganga. While there are a few steps it still looks relatively easy. It’s the miso and pickled ginger dressing which really grabs me.


  4. Parita says:

    I love sambal olek its my favorite! this dish sounds amazingly flavorful!


  5. Aparna says:

    Love the colours and taste combinations in here. Must ask, what can I substitute for miso? Can’t find that here.


  6. Sunitha says:

    Lovely, that looks fantastic like a 5 start dish.


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  8. Hi Ganga, so nice to see you have email subscription available : ) Your tofu spinach miso looks fusion, beautiful, love the combo : )


  9. MisoSteve says:

    Looks awesome. I eat these ingredients in different dishes all the time.
    Have you made this much? Do you get an upset stomach eating raw tofu?


  10. wander_frau says:

    Just made this dish. it’s delicious.
    Just like your photos so full of life.


  11. Looks so tasty! the presentation is very creative!


  12. Looks and sounds very interesting. Will have to try it as soon as I can source all the ingredients (normally I have all of them in my kitchen, but just moved countries and had to give away a lot of food).


  13. weight says:

    yeah my dad will like this


  14. Hi, just wondering if I could link the Young Gourmet site to a couple of your recipes please? Also, I think you might be based in Adelaide so you might be interested in some of the charity work we do there via and Either way it would be good to correspond. Thanks for a wonderful resource. K


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  17. This spinach and Tofu Napoleon looks stunning- beautiful food photography. I can’t wait to try this recipe. Take Care


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