Need a cold salad for your next summer gathering? Try this Salmon & Tofu Salad!

Salmon & Tofu layered salad

When I came across this recipe in my mom’s recipe box, it reminded me of family gatherings in Hawaii. There was a time when tofu salad was a popular dish and would be served at most parties. And honestly, as kid, I wasn’t really a fan because…well, it was a salad. But now that I’m older, I’ve come to appreciate a good light cold salad, especially during the hot summer months. 

Now, in Hawaii, tofu salad is made with watercress. There’s a watercress farm on Oahu, Sumida Farm, that supplies the majority of the watercress sold in Hawaii. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find watercress in Southern California, so I substituted arugula leaves instead. It’s a slightly different flavor, but I actually prefer it to watercress.

A delicious light cold summer salad - salmon and tofu layered salad. Click to Tweet

Salmon & Tofu Salad

Salmon and tofu salad ingredients

Prepared salmon and tofu ingredients

The first thing I do to prepare this salad is to cube the tofu and drain it. To drain the tofu, place it on some paper towels to draw out the liquid. Change out the paper towel 3-4 times until the majority of the liquid is drawn out. This is an important step, so don’t skip it or the salad sauce will get be diluted. 

The remaining ingredients will need to prepped too. Cube the tomatoes and thinly slice the onion. Lastly, go through the canned salmon and make sure to remove any bones. Set all the ingredients to the side and prepare the salad dressing. 

salmon and tofu salad dressing

For the salmon & tofu salad dressing, heat oil and garlic. Remove the garlic and add grated ginger. Let the oil cool. Add in the remaining salad ingredients.  Place in the fridge to chill.

layering salmon and tofu salad

Add the cubed tofu in a single layer on the bottom of the dish. Then, layer with onions, tomatoes, green onions, and arugula. Cover and place in the fridge to chill.

salmon and tofu salad served

About 30 minutes before serving, pour sauce over the salad and sprinkle roasted sesame seeds over it (optional). If there is any leftover arugula, serve that on the side so people that want more greens can add it to their bowls. 

Note: This salad can be made a day ahead. 

salmon and tofu salad served

Salmon & Tofu Salad

Yield: 6-8
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Salmon and tofu salad with tomatoes, onions, and arugula.


  • 1 1/2 - block firm tofu - cut in 1" cubes and drained
  • 1/2 - medium sweet onion - thinly sliced
  • 1 - 14.75 oz. can salmon - crush and remove any small bones or use 2 - 5 oz. can skinless/boneless pink salmon.
  • 1 - large tomato or 2 medium tomatoes - small cubed
  • 2 - 3 stalks green onions - chopped
  • 1 - container/package baby arugula
  • 1/4 - cup oil
  • 2 - cloves garlic - crushed or mince to leave in oil
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp. - grated ginger
  • 1/2 - cup Aloha brand soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. - seasame oil
  • 1 T. - mirin
  • 1 tsp. rice vinegar
  • optional - toasted sesame seeds


  1. Cut tofu and place on paper towels to drain. Change out paper towels at least 3-4 times or until not fully soaked. Set aside.
  2. In a pot on medium heat, add oil and garlic. Cook just until garlic begins to slightly brown. Turn off the heat and remove garlic or mince garlic to leave in oil. Add grated ginger and let oil cool. When cool, add soy. sesame oil, mirin, and rice vinegar. Place in the fridge to chill.
  3. Lay cut tofu in a single layer on the bottom of a 8" x 8" dish. In this order, top tofu with onions, salmon, tomatoes, green onions, and arugula. Place in the fridge to chill through.
  4. About 30 minutes before serving, add sauce over top and place in the fridge to chill. This will allow the tofu to absorb some of the sauce. Serve cold.


  • This salad can be made and assembled day ahead for parties. Just leave off the arugula and don't add the sauce till 30 minutes before serving.
  • Canned salmon can be substituted with drained tuna.
  • I used frozen grated ginger and added a bit more than 1 tsp. since the flavor mellows. If using fresh grated ginger, start with 1/2 tsp. and add more if needed.
  • Serve any leftover arugula on the side so people can add more in their tofu salad.
  • Soy sauce can change the flavor of the sauce. I use Aloha in this recipe. If using Kikkoman, the sauce will be a bit saltier.

Did you make this recipe?

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  1. This salad sounds delicious. I think that it would great to have for lunch during the summer months. The only thing is That I don’t like arugula. Is there anything else I can substitute for it. I know the original recipe calls for watercress so i will look for that but if you have any other idea, I would love to hear it. Thank you!