the appetizer:

Food Sake Tokyo by Yukari Sakamoto, includes excerpts like Hot Pots Nabe Ryori; Tofu Tōfu; Fermented Soybeans Nattō; and Tsukiji Market Tsukiji Shijo.



Tofu (Tōfu)

by Yukari Sakamoto



Soy (Daizu Shokuhin)

The soybean, a rich source of protein, is central to the Japanese diet. Soy products include tōfu, soy sauce, and miso. Tōfu can also be pronounced dofu, as in Koyadōfu (freeze-dried tōfu) or yudōfu (tōfu hot pot).


Tōfu in Japan can be a revelation. A far cry from the bland blocks commonly found elsewhere. In Japan you will find a wide array of soy products including creamy tōfu, golden tōfu balls, silken layers of soymilk skin (yuba), and much more. If tōfu is served chilled (hiyayakko), it may be drizzled with soy sauce and garnished with either myōga (in the ginger family), grated ginger, bonito flakes, or wasabi. A contemporary version of chilled tōfu is served with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.

Tōfu first appeared in Japan in the twelfth century, when the consumption of animal meat in Buddhist temples was forbidden. Soy products are thus an integral part of shōjin ryōri, the Zen vegetarian cuisine that originated in Kyoto. Since tōfu is composed of 90% water, it is no wonder that Kyoto—famous for its rich water sources—is known for its tōfu. The following are popular tōfu products:

  • Abura-age   Pieces of tōfu from which excess water has been pressed, and then deep-fried
  • Agedashi dōfu   Tōfu that is rolled in a starch (katakuriko), deep fried, and covered in a savory soy and dashi sauce
  • Atsu-age   Thick pieces of tōfu that are deep-fried
  • Ganmodoki   Tōfu that is mixed with vegetables from both land and sea, molded into balls, and deep fried
  • Hiyayakko   Chilled tōfu, popular in summer
  • Kinugoshi dōfu   Soft or silken tōfu
  • Koya-dōfu   Freeze-dried tōfu, named after Miunt Koya where it was originally made
  • Momen dōfu   "Cotton tōfu" or firm tōfu, so called because the tōfu was traditionally strained through a piece of cotton cloth
  • Yakidōfu   Grilled tōfu, often used in hot pots
  • Yosedōfu   Tōfu with a texture somewhere between silken and firm tōfu, creamy but not too firm
  • Yudōfu   Tōfu hot pot, a popular dish in the winter
  • Zaru dōfu   Very soft tōfu named for the zaru, a bowl made from bamboo in which it is formed
Other Soy Products
  • Daizu   Dried soybeans
  • Edamame   Fresh soybeans, usually served boiled and seasoned with sea salt
  • Kinako   Flour made from toasted soybeans; a popular ingredient in wagashi (Japanese confections)
  • Miso   See page 76 of the book
  • Okara   The pulp left over after steamed soybeans are pressed to make soymilk; low in fat and rich in fiber, okara may be mixed with vegetables, or used as an ingredient in croquettes
  • Nattō   Fermented soybeans, famous for a their funky aroma and gooey texture; see Fermented Soybeans
  • Tōnyū   Soy milk
  • Yuba   The skin from soy milk that has been heated; best when served on its own with a bit of soy sauce and wasabi, it can also be used to wrap foods or as an ingredient
  • from:
    Food Sake Tokyo (The Terroir Guides)
  • by Yukari Sakamoto
  • Photographs by Takuya Suzuki
  • The Little Bookroom 2010
  • Paperback Original; 320 pages; $29.95
  • ISBN-10: 189214574X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1892145-74-1
  • Reprinted by permission.

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This page created September 2010

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