Toasting the barley before it boils brings out nutty flavor. Pressing and draining tofu helps it take on flavors more readily and improves its cooked texture.
1 (12-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 5 (1-inch-thick) slices
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 garlic clove, grated
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil, divided
1 cup uncooked pearl barley
5 cups water
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
10 ounce large shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
How to Make It
To prepare tofu, place tofu slices on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Top with a cutting board; place a heavy skillet on top of cutting board. Let stand 45 minutes, pressing down occasionally. Cut each tofu slice into 10 cubes; arrange in a single layer in a shallow dish.
Preheat oven to 375°.
Combine brown sugar and next 4 ingredients (through garlic) in a small bowl. Pour sugar mixture over tofu in dish, and turn to coat. Let stand for 25 minutes. Arrange tofu in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes, turning after 15 minutes. Cool completely.
To prepare salad, heat 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add barley to pan; cook 3 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring frequently. Add 5 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until barley is tender. Drain; cool completely. Place barley in a large bowl.
Cook green beans in boiling water for 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and plunge green beans into ice water. Drain well; pat dry. Add beans to barley.
Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush tops of mushrooms with 2 teaspoons oil. Add mushrooms to pan, oiled side down. Cook 5 minutes or until browned. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cool slightly; slice mushrooms thinly. Add tofu, mushrooms, and green onions to barley mixture.
Combine remaining 1 tablespoon oil, rice wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, agave nectar or honey, grated ginger, and minced garlic in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over barley mixture in bowl; stir well to combine. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
I agree that this recipe was very time consuming and the outcome was not what I expected. The flavor of the mushrooms, sesame oil, tofu, etc was overwhelming. I tried it both cold and hot and could not finish it. After all that work and shopping at 2 stores to find all ingredients I ended up throwing most of it out.
I really enjoyed this recipe (so did my husband). I agree that it sounded like a lot of pots and pans and time. I think I simplified it by searing the tofu on the stove top (didn't think it was worth it to start the oven just for that). I removed the tofu from pan and then used that same one to saute the mushrooms. I used regular button mushrooms because i don't like shiitake. I also boiled the green beans in the same pot as the barley (after i dumped the barley). Reduced salt to total of 1/2 tsp, and i think I will reduce further to 1/4 tsp for next time. Will make again! Nice cold main dish for these hot summer days :)
Prepared this a day ahead as a side dish without the tofu. It was delicious. I cut the amount of green onions based on the reviews, and also used a combo of shiitake and crimini mushrooms. Will definitely make again.
Since this recipe made much more than two of us could enjoy, I invited neighbors, forgetting he does not like tofu. However, EVERYONE loved the salad! Although a bit time consuming to make, I will make it again.The flavors and textures were delicious combinations.I followed the recipe with no changes and served it with heirloom tomatoes and corn on the cob - a wonderful late summer meal. I allowed about two hours for the recipe which was just right.
The salad was delicious, but it had too many green onions, and I generally like green onions. It was way better the next day, and next time I'll make it a day in advance. Would be great for a potluck as it could be a side dish, but is filling enough to be an entree.
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