Washoku Wednesday: Tofu

Hiyayakko – Cold firm tofu

Courtney serves up some tofu this week, one of the staple’s in my own household. 

Tofu, or bean curd, is made from soy. Soy milk is curdled and then pressed into blocks similar to how cheese is produced from cow’s milk.

Originating in China, tofu arrived in Japan in the eighth century. Tofu can range in density from soft to firm. Soft tofu is best used in dips and soups while firm can be chopped up and used in stir fries. There are also variations where the tofu is grilled or marinated and baked.

You can find tofu in lots of different dishes from savory to sweet. In my opinion, the best is the tofu doughnuts in Nishiki Market in Kyoto. Light and airy and perfect for a mid-day snack!

Even if you’re not a big fan of tofu in the States, you must try it in Japan. The flavors and textures are so much different. I came to love grilled tofu (tofu-yaki) that could be purchased at the local store and we would use it for EVERYTHING! There are restaurants in Kyoto that focus solely on tofu and serve up meals with everything from miso soup with tofu, nabe (hot pot) with tofu and tofu skin!

Prior to adding soy sauce

Hiyayakko (Cold Tofu)
This dish was one of the first I was introduced to in Japan way back in 2003. It’s simple but lets the ingredients shine. It’s perfect for those hot, humid days in Japan. I used to grab this dish at the local 7-Eleven and eat it anywhere (including Mt. Fuji)!

1 block silken tofu, chilled
1 green onion/scallion
Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
2 TBSP soy sauce

After tofu is chilled, place on serving dish. Sprinkle with green onion, katsuobushi and ginger. Pour soy sauce over top. Enjoy!

Nami of Just One Cookbook shows just how versatile this dish can be with all the variations. You can check out her variations here.

Other recipes:
Tofu Lettuce Wraps with Hosin-Peanut Sauce from Cooking Light
This was long time favorite in our household during the hot, humid summers. We’ve made this recipe numerous times!

Tofu fruit smoothies from Cooking Light
I used this recipe when I first started adding tofu to smoothies. Now I just toss in the fruits and vegetables I have on hand and adjust the amount of tofu as necessary. This is a great way to add some extra protein to your morning drink.

Agedashi tofu from Just One Cookbook
Simple ingredients like hiyayakko but slightly more complex with the tofu being fried and served with a mixed sauce.

Chocolate Silk Pie from Minimalist Baker
Don’t think tofu should be used in desserts? Well you are missing out! Check out this super easy (and vegan) chocolate silk pie. Delicious!

7 thoughts on “Washoku Wednesday: Tofu

Add yours

    1. Nami-san, thank you for the kind compliment on the picture. I’m aspiring to get gorgeous photos like yours! And like Mandy said, you are always my go-to blog for Japanese recipes. 🙂

  1. There are tofu doughnuts at Nishiki Market!? Why have I never noticed these!

    I love tofu in all its dependable simplicity and versatility, and it irritates me how dismissive many Americans are of it. I think it is because in America it is used as a substitute for meat, even though it is not like meat in texture at all. If people eat it expecting something more like meat, they are bound to be shocked and disappointed.

    Mm, some hiyayakko tofu would really hit the spot right now…

    1. Buri-chan, I didn’t really appreciate tofu until I learned that you have to drain out the water to get it to fry up really well. I just don’t think many Americans no exactly how to prepare it to maximize both taste and texture. Living in Japan, I found so many other uses for it that we have tofu at least once or twice a week! And yes, the tofu donuts are a big favorite of mine at Nishiki Market. Look for them on the corner of the westernmost block of the market. 🙂

  2. Buri-chan, the tofu doughnut place can be deceiving! Even having been there before, I’ve walked by it because the store front looks like your typical stall with a person selling tofu in a cooler out front. You have to walk around the side (into the alleyway) to get to the tofu doughnut location. Happy hunting! They’re worth it.

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