To celebrate the United Nations International Year of Pulses 2016, Slow Food South Australia served squares of golden Shan tofu topped with a zesty red cabbage salad in Chinese spoons at the annual United Nations Day Dinner in Adelaide.

The dish is simple to make at home to serve as a starter or as part of a larger shared Asian meal.


Golden Shan tofu
Makes 1 x 20cm square cake pan or pie dish of tofu

Recipe by Andrea Ball, adapted from Naomi Duguid’s Burma: Rivers of Flavor 

The Shan are one of the indigenous peoples of Burma and have a fantastic repertoire of vegetarian dishes, including this relatively unknown gem.  

While the tofu that most of us know (and either love or hate!) is made from soybeans, Shan tofu is made from chickpeas or chickpea flour. More and more people are finding they are sensitive to soy-based products and eating large amounts can disrupt hormones. Having an easily-digested alternative to soy tofu that is a cinch to make, has shimmery good looks, and is a pleasure to eat in so many forms, is a boon for vegetarians.

Make this at least 4 hours or the night before you plan to use it, so it has time to set in the fridge.

Once the tofu has set, cut it into squares and add as it is to salads, shallow-fry and devour as a delicious snack or pre-dinner nibble with a spicy tomato chutney on the side, or add to your favourite curry.

This recipe is easily doubled if you are making it for a crowd.

1 cup chickpea flour (also called besan flour)
¾ tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp ground turmeric
2¾ cups water

Sift the chickpea flour into a medium bowl and stir though the salt and turmeric. Add 1 cup of the water and whisk well to remove any lumps. Set aside for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, lightly brush a 20cm square cake pan or glass pie dish with a little peanut oil.

Bring the remaining  1¾ cups of water to the boil in a medium saucepan with a heavy base and then lower the heat to medium. Give the chickpea flour mixture another whisk and then whisk continuously as you slowly add the mixture to the boiling water. Lower the heat to keep the mixture just simmering (you may need to place a diffuser under the saucepan). Cook for 10 minutes, whisking often to make sure the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

After 10 minutes, the mixture will be thick, smooth and shiny.

Pour into your prepared pan and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until firm.

That’s it: you’ve just made your own Shan tofu!

Shan tofu salad
Serves 4 as a side salad

Recipe by Andrea Ball, adapted from Naomi Duguid’s Burma: Rivers of Flavor 

This very simple salad has a wonderful combination of contrasting flavours and textures: the smooth, satisfying texture of the Shan tofu perfectly complements the crunch of red cabbage, and the shredded lime leaves provide an unexpected zing.

Serve this as starter or as part of a larger shared Asian meal.

¼ small red cabbage, finely shaved on a mandoline or finely sliced with a sharp knife
8 kaffir lime or regular lime leaves, central vein removed and sliced into the finest strips you can manage
Large handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
½–1 quantity of Golden Shan tofu (depending on your hunger and taste), cut into approx 2cm squares
2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
2 Tbsp raw peanuts, toasted and roughly chopped


100ml brown rice vinegar (or you can use regular rice wine vinegar)
2 Tbsp honey
1–2 Tbsp tamari, to taste  
2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
½–1 red chilli, seeds removed if you prefer, finely chopped
1 tsp sesame oil
Zest and juice of 1 lime

Make the dressing by adding all the ingredients to a screwtop jar. Shake well and taste, adding more tamari or lime juice if needed.  

Combine the red cabbage, most of the shredded lime leaves and most of the coriander in a serving bowl. Add ¾ of the dressing and use your hands to toss well and coat the salad with the dressing.

Add the Shan tofu, the remaining dressing and toss very gently with your hands, just to combine.

Scatter with the remaining lime leaves, coriander, sesame seeds and peanuts.

One Comment, RSS

  • Mike Hall

    says on:
    February 15, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    Fantastic recipes! It is so refreshing to see a Slow Food group in Australia promoting pulses and quality vegetarian food, usually it is all just meat, dairy and alcohol.

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