By Emi Suzuki

The legend behind this recipe is that many years ago watercress popularity began to decline. Watercress sales were down and people began replacing it with other leafy greens. Right when hope was almost lost, a magical recipe appeared in a local Hongwanji cookbook for tofu salad whose star ingredient was not tofu, but watercress. Sales took off and the recipe evolved over many decades. This is our family’s favorite version, but you can find many others out there; they are all good, as long as they include Sumida Farm watercress! 


  • 1 bunch Sumida Farm watercress

  • 1 block firm tofu, drained and cut into cubes (we also like fried tofu if you can find it!)

  • 2 large tomatoes or 1 container Ho Farms cherry tomatoes

  • 1 Japanese cucumber, slivered

  • 1 cup takuan, slivered

  • 1 kamaboko, slivered

  • 1 package satsuma-age, slivered

  • 2-3 ounces of soft taegu (see below if you are unable to find it in stores)



  • 1/2 cup shoyu

  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil

  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil

  • 3 cloves grated garlic

  • 1 Tablespoon sugar


  • 5-6 ounces of shredded dried cuttlefish/codfish/ika

  • 2 Tablespoons honey

  • 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds

  • 4 Tablespoons sesame oil

  • 2 Tablespoons gochujang

  • 1/2 Tablespoons shoyu

  • 2 teaspoons gochugaru



Dressing: Heat canola and sesame oil, then add grated garlic and saute until fragrant, careful not to burn the garlic. Add shoyu and sugar and stir to combine and allow sugar to dissolve. Cool and refrigerate the dressing. You can marinate tofu and tomatoes in some dressing overnight for extra flavor, if you have the time.

Assemble salad: First layer: Layer half the ingredients (except taegu) in this order: tofu and tomatoes, watercress, cucumber, kamaboko, satsuma-age, and takuan.

Second layer: tofu and tomatoes, watercress, cucumber, satsuma-age, kamaboko, takuan. Top with taegu and pour the dressing on the salad just before serving. 

We like to double the dressing recipe so we have enough for leftovers or salad later in the week.


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