Ingredients, dishes and drinks from Japan by Ad Blankestijn

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tofu (3) - by-products and tofu dishes

The second part of our tofu post. Here are the first  installment and the second installmentWe look at some by-products of tofu plus a few tofu dishes.

Already during the production process of tofu, various other foodstuffs come into being:
  • Okara or soy pulp. A white pulp left over when soy milk is extracted from ground soaked soybeans. It looks a bit like sawdust. Although tasteless, okara contains fiber, protein, iron, calcium and riboflavin and is very nutritious. It is in the first place used as livestock feed, but also finds many applications in the Japanese kitchen. Recently, it has been discovered by vegetarians and is for example used as ingredient for vegetarian burgers, also in the West. Okara is also called poetically "unohana," "deutzia flowers." As Okara - like tofu - can't be kept long, it is often sold in dried form.
  • Tonyu or soy milk is a healthy replacement for cow milk. There is also soy milk based ice cream and soy yogurt.
  • Yuba or soy milk skin, a delicacy of Kyoto. Yuba forms on the surface when soy milk is heated. Can be eaten fresh or added to soups. Important ingredient in shojin-ryori (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine)
Enjoy tofu in the following ways:
  • As-it-is: Hiyayakko or chilled tofu. Cold blocks of "cotton tofu" with soy sauce, grated ginger and finely sliced spring onions. Typical izakaya food. Summer dish.
  • As-it-is: Yudofu or "Tofu in warm water." Blocks of "cotton tofu" are put in a pot with water and kombu right on the table. After gently warming (never boiling!) the tofu is dipped in a sauce of soy, spring onions, grated ginger and bonito shavings before eating. Typical Kyoto dish. When cooking at home, you can vary it by adding shungiku, shiitake, Chinese cabbage and enokidake to the broth.
  • As-it-is: Shira-ae or vegetables dressed with tofu. Lit. "Salad with white dressing." Carrot, burdock root, green beans etc. are cooked, cooled off and then mixed with a dressing made from drained tofu and dashi, salt, sugar and soy sauce.
  • Grilled: Dengaku. Lightly grilled tofu flavored with various types of miso mixed with sugar and sake.
  • Sauteed: Iridofu. Tofu sauteed with shiitake mushrooms, carrots and snow peas and seasoned with sake, soy sauce, sugar and egg. Even without the addition of egg, this tofu dish reminds one of scrambled eggs!
  • Japanese-Chinese: Mabo tofu. Originally from Sichuan, but domesticated in the Japanese Chuka kitchen. Small squares of tofu in a soupy mixture containing ground pork, seasoned with leeks, ginger, sesame seed oil and soy sauce. Eaten over rice on a plate. Can be spicy, although less so in Japan than in Sichuan.
Traditionally, Kyoto is famous for its tofu, thanks to its excellent water and emphasis on vegetarian cuisine.