Useful Information on Tofu, the Star of Japanese food
What is Tofu?
Tofu is a white and soft jelly like food which is commonly used for cooking in Japan. It is a processed food made of soya, produced by adding “nigari (a kind of coagulant) into squeezed soya juice to solidify. The most important ingredients that can affect the quality tofu are soya, nigari and water which happen to be the three critical ingredients in the process of production.
There is a theory that Tofu originated in China and was introduced and spread in Japan around the end of Kamakura era to the Muromachi era (around the 1300’s). By the end of the Edo era (1603-1867) it had become a food that was eaten regularly. Nowadays Tofu is widely used in many countries of Asia but some are not made of soya and the production methods are different. White soft tofu is an original style from Japan among all different Tofu from Asian countries. http://www.sachi-ya.jp/, Top: https://ja.wikipedia.org
Two Broad Classifications of Tofu
Among Tofu that is distributed in Japan, there are mainly two kinds of Tofu that are differentiated by method of production.
1. Silken/Soft Tofu (Kinu)
絹ごし豆腐, The surface is silky and smooth.
Soya milk, juice squeezed out of soya beans, used to create Soft Tofu is very thick. After nigari, the coagulant, is added, it is cut up and soaked in water. This style is called silky Tofu
2. Firm Tofu (Momen)
木綿豆腐, The surface is rough.
Soya milk used to create Firm Tofu is thinner. After the coagulant, nigari is added to harden the liquid, it gets mashed up and put in a mould lined with cloth, then compressed to get rid of moisture. This firm tofu is called momen or cotton tofu.
Due to the different textures of Soft and Firm Tofu, different recipes require different Tofu.
If You’ve Never Tried Tofu, First Try the Most Standard Hiyayakko
Tofu is a popular every day food and can be purchased in any supermarket. You may find some in Japanese food stores or healthy food stores outside Japan.
If you have never tried Tofu, I recommend trying the simplest Japanese Tofu recipe called “hiyayakko”, cold Tofu. You eat the cold tofu as it is without cooking, topped with garnish like spring onions and ginger, with soy sauce poured over. It is one of the most popular nibbles to go with beers, and the simple texture of the silken tofu goes well with soy sauce and garnish. It is worth trying out the soft texture of Tofu as it is.
Various ideas! Tofu Recipe
Besides hiyayakko which allows you to enjoy the taste of the tofu itself, Tofu can give be served in various shapes in different recipes over meals in Japan.
- Sukiyaki: Grilled golden brown tofu is used.
- Atsuage: Tofu is deep fried.
- Abura age: Deep fried thin tofu (It is used in inari zushi, kitsune udon/soba etc.)
- Ganmodoki: Fried tofu fritter made with vegetables, egg white and sesame seeds used in a dish called oden.
- Miso Soup: Tofu is the basic and original ingredient for the soup.
- Yu-Dofu : Tofu boiled in hot water, similar to shabu-shabu hotpot. It is a winter season favorite. Just like a warm version of hiyayakko.
- Kouya Dofu: Frozen dried tofu. A kind of preserved food.
- Tofu burger: As tofu is extremely good for your health, it is sometimes used in a hamburg steak instead of meat.[margin_15b]
These are all the tofu recipes I thought of just off the top of my head. So you can see how this is the star item for a meal.
Sukiyaki(Fried meat and vegetable with sweet soya saurce) with grilled tofu, http://www.nakagawaseiryu.jp/
Inari zushi wrapped with Abura age, https://www.gnavi.co.jp/
Tofu for dessert!
Tofu which has been decorating dinner tables in different recipes over the years is recently used for desserts as well. It is full of vegetable protein, it’s healthy, has a creamy texture and simple taste and goes well with other ingredients, and therefore it is very suitable for desserts.
Here is a Tofu sweet that is a little unique. Tofu shaped as Gundam or Triple Dom. Both with chocolate base but have their own special taste. Japan is the only country that can come up with such an idea like corroborating Tofu and animation.
Natural Tofu Premium, http://macaro-ni.jp/
Also there are some Tofu desserts in a cup with honey poured over. This is called Natural Tofu Premium and its texture is creamy like mascarpone cheese. It is easy to find in any supermarket or convenience store in Japan.
Low in calorie with full of nutrition, and yummy… If you care about your diet this is the one to try. Why not try all kinds of Tofu recipes!