April 27, 2005
tofu a la mode?
One of the things I missed so bad while in Hawaii was tofu. Of course tofu isn't a hard-to-get item at all in Hawaii, but I am talking about the kinds we have in Japan, the ones I have been familiar with. Japanese tofu - both momen and kinu-goshi - is way softer and smoother than firm and silken tofu, respectively, that I found in Hawaii. In fact, Hawaii's firm tofu tends to be really firm, so much so I'd only use it in stir-fries or curries. Even silken tofu wasn't soft enough for me to want to have it uncooked.
Away from home, Hiya-yakko, or chilled tofu, was thus something I would pine after. Here good tofu is abundant and hiya-yakko is not a big deal, but when I have really good tofu, that's how I want to taste it - like I did the other day.
This silken tofu from Fujino was one of my acquisitions from my latest trip to Kyoto, where the tofu shop is located at.
My favorite way to taste good silky tofu (such as oboro-dofu, which is even softer and more delicate than silken tofu) is: first, I'd eat it as is, without any sauce or seasoning, nothing. Good tofu are mellow and sweet, delicious itself and doesn't need a help of seasonings. Next I'd sprinkle a pinch of good sea salt - not much, just a bit, enough to bring out the flavor of the natural sweetness of tofu. Then I'd finally reach for soy sauce and maybe some garnish, such as katsuo-bushi or dried bonito shaves (oh, I didn't mean you, Anthony!), spring onions, sesame seeds, grated ginger roots, and/or shiso. Very simple.
But sometimes I do feel like something more colorful and rich, and that's when I help myself with "special" hiya-yakko. By "special", I mean I put a heap of garnish and condiments like this.
That day I got some shiso leaves, myoga (what is myoga? ask Santos, she obviously knows about it way better than I do), young ginger, red pepper, Japanese negi (not very far from spring onions - not shown in the picture), and sesame seeds. I would have liked some dried shrimps, too, which I couldn't find in my neighborhood on that day.
Basically, all I needed to do was slicing up the herbs, vegetables, and spices and mounted everything on blocks of tofu. As a rule of thumb, the more garnish, the better.
Now I can simply drizzle soy sauce over it and serve, but I like to take an extra step by heating some sesame oil in a skillet and pour it over the tofu, then soy sauce. Warmed sesame oil not just renders its wonderful flavor even more, but brings out garnishes' flavors as well by slightly cooking them, making a nice contrast between chilled tofu and a bit warm garnishes. I can see myself having countless servings of tofu like this over the coming several hot months, until when I start missing yu-dofu or warmed tofu in the late autumn.
Private correspondence #1: Anthony - Don't forget ginger for your hiya-yakko (especially when you actually eat it). ;)
#2: Santos - it's getting hotter here, too, so I guess it's about time that I eat what she who eats what she who eats ate is eating, again. :)
posted by chika at: 4/27/2005 03:09:00 AM