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Grapefruit, Fried Tofu and Shallot Salad


Crispy tofu turns this veggie-loaded, Vietnamese-inspired salad into a satisfying main course.

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  1. 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  2. 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
  3. 1 serrano chile, seeded and chopped
  4. 1 small shallot, coarsely chopped
  5. 1 small garlic clove, coarsely chopped
  6. 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  7. 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  8. 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  9. 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  10. 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  11. Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. 2 small pink grapefruits
  2. 2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
  3. 6 ounces firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-by-2-inch pieces
  4. 1 cup cornstarch
  5. 2 large shallots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  6. Salt
  7. 1 large head of butter lettuce, cored and torn into bite-size pieces
  8. 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced lengthwise
  9. 1 small carrot, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  10. 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  11. 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  12. 1/2 cup mint leaves
  13. 1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped
  1. Combine all of the ingredients except the oil, salt and ground pepper in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. With the machine on, add the oil in a thin stream. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.
  2. Using a very sharp knife, peel the grapefruits, carefully removing all of the bitter white pith. Cut in between the membranes, releasing the grapefruit sections into a bowl.
  3. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil to 360°. Gently pat the tofu dry with paper towels. Put the cornstarch in a medium bowl. Dredge the shallots in the cornstarch; transfer them to a sieve and shake off the excess cornstarch. Dredge the tofu pieces in the cornstarch. Working in 2 batches, fry the shallots until browned, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season with salt. In 3 batches, fry the tofu pieces until golden brown and puffed, about 4 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with the grapefruit sections, bell pepper, carrot, red onion, cilantro, mint and peanuts. Toss with 1/2 cup of the dressing; add more dressing if desired. Arrange the fried tofu and shallots on top and serve right away.