I've seen a few creamy "vegan" sauces that are made from use mashed or pureed tofu (for example, I've seen vegan caesar dressing made like this). I always thought this was some sort of weird vegan concoction. However, I recently discovered that Japanese cooking actually has a well known traditional tofu sauce, called shira-ae, and somehow this knowledge made tofu sauces more interesting to me, and thus I wanted to try it. The sauce goes well with many leafy greens. Here I've mixed it with blanched and squeezed spinach, since when I was at the Japanese store I didn't know what went with shira-ae, so I went home and researched the sauce, and then choose a green that was easy to buy at a grocery store much closer to where I live. Apparently chrysanthemum greens are often mixed with this sauce. I saw some at the Japanese grocery market, so next time I'm there I want to try this with them since I've never made anything with chrysanthemum greens.
Recipe: "White Dressing (Tofu) from "Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art" by Shizuo Tsuji.
Rating: Good, but it is very mild. I partitioned my sauce and spinach into two halves and tried this two ways: first exactly as written in the recipe, and second with 1 or 2 tsp to taste of aged brown miso (aka-miso) mixed in and garnished with additional sesame seeds. I prefer the version with miso and extra sesame seeds since the sauce is too mild for me without this extra seasoning. Since I had already mixed in salt, my miso shira-ae had both miso and salt, but in order to keep this sauce from getting to salty (especially if you use aka-miso, which is more salty than milder misos), I suggest leaving the salt out, then mixing in the miso, and then only adding additional salt if you think the sauce needs it.
Status: Made once
Bunched spinach is often sold with dirt still clinging to it. Washing spinach in a sinkful of water is an easy way to clean it; since this time my spinach had even more dirt than usual, I washed my spinach twice in a sinkful of water (the spinach came with the stems and roots on; the pictures are from after I cut off the roots).
I blanched the spinach and gently squeezed it dry, and then mixed it with the shira-ae dressing just before serving. The tofu needs to be pressed (I put mine on a plate with a raised edge that can hold water, and pressed it by putting two plates on top, which is one of the methods that Shizuo Tsuji suggests), and the spinach needs to be squeezed lightly so that the sauce does not become watery from the water in these ingredients.
The amount shown here is 1 bunch of spinach and 1/2 the block of tofu; this seems to be the right amount for two people (though I actually made twice this amount, and saved the extra in the refrigerator with the greens separated from the sauce). Since this sauce is mild (even with miso), you can actually use much more of it than you would other sauces; you can have a one-to-one proportion (or more) of sauce to vegetables; mix to taste.