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A recipe for silken tofu with crispy toppings is a delicious study in contrasts

By on June 12, 2022 0

Gochiso-Dofu (Decorated Tofu)

Total time:15 minutes, plus any cool down time

Servings:2 to 4

Total time:15 minutes, plus any cool down time

Servings:2 to 4

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There is a glass half empty/glass half full way of looking at tofu. The first is that it’s too bland to be interesting. The latter is that it is a versatile backdrop for powerful flavors.

Consider this: have you ever heard someone say that they find fresh mozzarella cheese too bland and boring for a Caprese salad? Rather, it’s celebrated as the soothing counterpoint of sour tomatoes, herbaceous olive oil and peppery basil. There are also many other possibilities, including balsamic vinegar and crushed red pepper flakes.

I consider this tofu recipe to be the Japanese equivalent of Caprese, with a few exceptions: it’s constructed from a single block of silken tofu, which you may never have eaten this way, but trust me. me, you should. You top it with loads of herbs, aromatics, scallions, peanuts, and high-quality soy sauce, serve it cold, and let your guests take their servings by the spoonful, eating it as an appetizer. as is or maybe with rice as a main course. The tofu is almost like a pudding, and its subtle nutty flavor and smooth, creamy texture play off the crispy, savory fillings.

In some Asian cuisines, silken tofu is not served as a block but in a shallow bowl or stock pot, and it is sometimes prepared fresh. I remember the shock and delight the first time I ate it this way in Tokyo, where for breakfast in a traditional ryokan, a small iron pot sat over a flame and the waiter was pouring freshly made soy milk into it. The jar already had a coagulant in it – probably gypsum – and after a few minutes of being covered, the lid was lifted and I poured in the most ethereal tofu I’ve ever eaten.

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You can do this at home; Andrea Nguyen has a great recipe for it in her book “Asian Tofu”.

But every weeknight, especially in the summer when I want something that doesn’t require any heat, I riff on a recipe from Harumi Kurihara’s 2020 book, “Harumi’s Japanese Kitchen.” I start with store-bought silken tofu — I like to use the shelf-stable kind in aseptic wrap made by Mori-Nu — then top it with whatever I have on hand. (This tofu has a slightly confusing label, in that it’s labeled silken but also soft, firm, or extra firm. Any of these will work for this recipe, but I prefer soft, which is the most creamy.)

Kurihara calls it Gochiso-Dofu, or Decorated Tofu, which gives you an idea of ​​how delicately she puts the toppings together. She wraps a paper towel around the edges of the tofu, letting it extend a few inches above the surface (much like how you make a paper collar for a soufflé), then after arranging the toppings , she removes the towel to expose a perfectly clean edge. Then she carefully pours the dark sauce along this edge, so that it coats the sides of the tofu without disturbing the toppings.

With all due respect, but I don’t have time for this. Also, I like the look of dropping some of the herbs, nuts, and scallions onto the serving platter, then drizzling it with sauce, leaving the off-white flesh of the tofu clean against the black. This dish is all about contrast – dark and light, crunchy and creamy, intense and sweet – and you don’t want to show it?

Gochiso-Dofu (Decorated Tofu)

Think of tofu as a blank canvas, and feel free to substitute your favorite nuts, seeds, and herbs with those listed here. If you have a garden, this is a great use for herb flowers or other plants. It’s a wonderful starter for four people, but you can also serve it as a main dish for two, with rice. Use tamari instead of soy sauce to make the dish gluten-free.

Storage Notes: Tofu is at its best, to taste and look at, when freshly made, but you can refrigerate it for up to 3 days.

Or buy: Mirin, Japanese sweet rice cooking wine, can be found in well-stocked supermarkets or Asian markets.

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  • One package (12 ounces) silken tofu, drained
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint, basil, shiso or a mix, plus small leaves for optional garnish
  • 1 green onion, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts, unsalted
  • 1 teaspoon white and/or black sesame seeds
  • Chive blossoms, for garnish (optional)
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tablespoons mirin

Place the tofu on a serving platter. If it was in a shelf-stable package and at room temperature, refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours before garnishing and serving.

Sprinkle the top of the tofu with the chopped herbs and green onion, then with the ginger, peanuts and sesame seeds. Garnish with the small whole herb leaves and chive blossoms, if desired.

In a small measuring cup with a pour spout, combine soy sauce or tamari and mirin. Pour the sauce around the tofu on the serving platter and serve.

Per serving (1/2 cup tofu and toppings, 1 1/2 tbsp sauce), based on 4

Calories: 109; Total fat: 5g; Saturated fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 536mg; Carbohydrates: 11g; Dietary fibre: 1 g; Sugar: 4g; Protein: 6g

This analysis is an estimate based on the available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist.

Adapted from “Harumi’s Japanese cuisine” by Harumi Kurihara (Octopus Conran, 2020).

Tested by Joe Yonan; questions by e-mail to [email protected].

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