5 Ways to Cook Japanese Inspired Dishes with Tofu

Tofu originated 2000 years back in some part of ancient China. It is one of the favorite ingredients used in east and south east cuisines. Tofu has an enormous amount of health benefits, like large amounts of proteins and iron. It has relatively low calories and fats which makes it eminently suitable for heart patients. Tofu has a unique taste and sweet smell and can be used in many dishes, including savory as well as sweet dishes.

Tofu kaiseki, Fu 麩
In China and Japan, tofu is cooked in various forms including in stew, in its raw form, in soups, and in stuffing. In Japan, many scrumptious dishes are cooked with tofu.

Here are five ways to cook Japanese inspired dishes with tofu.

1 Hiyayakko

In Japan, this is a common lunch delicacy in the summer season. It is also known as cold tofu. It is made up of chilled tofu with various toppings. It is the easiest recipe which cooks in just 10 minutes.

Cut chilled tofu in square shaped blocks and put these in a bowl. Add grated ginger, bonito flakes, sesame seeds, sliced okra, and chopped green onions on top. Pour mustard paste, soy sauce, and plum paste to make it even more delicious.

2 Agedashi-dofu

agedashi tofu

It is another famous Japanese dish made of tofu. It is deep fried tofu with some sizzling sauce.

Take a piece of tofu and press it hard to drain excessive water from it. Now make dashi stock. Fry tofu in peanut oil until light brown, and put it in a bowl. Serve with grated daikon radish and add dashi stock to the top.

3 Mapo Tofu

This is one of the best known dishes in Japan. It originated from China but boomed into Japan in the last century. It is cooked in Japanese style now to give it an authentic Japanese touch.

First, make a sauce adding one third cup sake, oyster sauce, red miso, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, potato starch, and tobanjan. Add pork chunks to the sauce and cook it. Now, add tofu to the mixture and coat it well. Keep cooking until it becomes thick. Serve with steamed rice.

4 Stir Fried Tofu

Stir fried tofu is used as a wrap, in salads, or in different sandwiches. It gives a unique taste of Japanese origin.

Marinate tofu with white miso paste, Ponzu sauce, dark brown sugar, honey, rice vinegar, wasabi paste, and ginger garlic paste. Put it aside for 24 to 48 hours. Pour vegetable oil in a pan and gently fry marinated tofu until nicely brown.

5 Silk Tofu with Soy Sauce and Carrot

In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and ginger root until the sugar is fully dissolved. Finely grate some carrot. Put tofu in a bowl and serve with grated carrot and soy sauce mixture.

shira ae 白和え

 Andrew is a food blogger with a strong passion for Asian and more specifically Japanese. Being a sushi maker distributor, Andrew had the chance to visit some of the best restaurants in Japan.


Why You Need a Santoku Kitchen Knife?

Bamboo Cutting BoardIf you buy one knife  that fits all kind of cooking, what you need to buy?    I tell you what you need to buy and especially for Japanese cooking.

Why I said why you need at least one Santoku Kitchen Knife in your household? I had been cooking for many friends and at friend’s houses.  They like the food I love to cook for them!  But one thing that I do not really like to do is cook at my American friends houses.  My American friend’s don’t usually have very good knives.

Sometimes I just volunteer to cook at their house when I am there.  We go grocery shopping and come back home.  I am ready for cooking and realize that they don’t have good knives or even a Good Cutting Board like Totally Bamboo 3-Piece Bamboo Cutting Board Set.  Bamboo is harder than wood and more sanitary as it doesn’t absorb and collect bacteria. And Plese, Please, Please!!! do not cut anything on your plate or hard surface. Do not use grass cutting board!!!

They usually have a Chef’s knife, also known as a French knife.  Those knives are not suitable to use for Japanese cooking.  Well, some Japanese person would say it is perfectly fine but I don’t like to use it for my Japanese cooking.

If you want a great knife, I recommend Santoku kitchen knife.  You may have heard of a knife name Santoku kitchen knife.  Santoku translates from Japanese to – “developed knife.  San means three the number and Toku means benevolence.  That means you can have three times benevolence.  Because this knife is good benevolent for meat, fish and vegetables (three). Also these are very popular knives in a Japanese household.

Vegetables are big ingredients for Japanese cooking because Japanese people eat so many vegetables.  Also, they cut them very small.  Cutting small is important for Japnese cooking.

Japanese use chopsticks, not knives and forks.  You can not really cut anything using chopsticks.  I think Japanese cooking is prepared to eat in a one bite size so you don’t need to cut on the plate (actually you can not cut it).  So if you were a chef, you have to prepare to cut a certain way for people who can eat the food easily.

I usually recommend my friends Japanese or German brand knives. Those two countries are very famous for knives. Both have very good knives traditionaly. Also Santoku is coming from Japan but German company make this type – Santoku kitchen knife now.

You can choose whatever you like, but I will put my two brand recomendation here. Shun Classic 7-Inch Santoku Hollow Ground Knife is very good brand, it sounds like Japanese and it is Japanese name however this is a German brand. My Chef friend has a whole set and she loves it very much.Shun Santoku Knife

Global is Japanese brand and I have this one for my own Global G48 7-Inch Hollow-Ground Santoku I like this one because it is light weight and is made of one piece of metal.  No wooden handles to worry about. It is very easy to clean and stylish also.Santoku Knife

Henckels Petty Knife

If you would buy a second knife, I recommend Henckels Twin Cermax – 5″ Petty/Utility Asian Knife.
Petty knives are the Japanese version of a paring knife. They typically are thin without a bolster on the blade and are very light. This is very good for pastry cooking or fruits. It is great as a peeling, paring, boning and carving knife for vegetables, fruits, herbs and other delicate work. It will also take on some of the slicing and dicing jobs of a large chef knife. Also, it is small and light – very handy!

Anyway, I recommend having Santoku and Petty knives when you start cooking Japanese.  If you try it, you maybe surprised that you are enjoying cutting many things on the board!

Happy Chopping!

Japanese Rice

What is Japanese-Rice?
This page contains all about Japanese-Rice you need to know.   What kind Japanese rice brand you should buy?   Rice cooker necessary?   How is Japanese table setting?   Important tip of Japanese rice cooking.

There are two major different types of rice.   One is called Indica rice and the other one is Japonica rice.

Indica has a long skinny shape which is dry and not sticky.   India,  Thailand,  Vietnam,  China and U.S.   Produce this kind of rice.   Eighty percent of the rice in the world is this kind.

Japonica is short,  round and sticky.   Japan,  Korea,  Northern China produce this rice.   If you put heat to this kind of rice, the consistancy becomes sticky.   Maybe the way to cook Japanese rice is different than what you know about cooking Indica rice.

When I cook a Japanese dinner (pretty much every dinner),  I try to make it this way.   Rice,  Miso soup (or other kind of Japanese soup),  Main dish and 2 sub-dishes.   The main dish would be something heavy,  Like meat or fish.   Sub-dishes are usually vegetables or something light and small.

Pressure cooker – If you have pressure cooker,  use it! Ideal water and rice amount 1 cup rice to 1 cup water.   If you like sofer rice,  add a small amount of water.   Do not add too much! L mean little bit is about 1/8 of cup or so. First,  put high heat and pressure cooker start ringing,  turn hear to low.   Leave it at least 15 minutes.   I usually leave it 20 minutes.

Regular pot – If you don’t have pressure cooker,  use a regular pot.   However,  I recommend a heavy pot with a heavy lid.   The measurement is the same as a pressure cooker: 1 cup of rice to 1 cup of water.

Why use a heavy lid?   It is a similar effect to the pressure cooker.   When boiling the water in the pot,  the water causes the lid to make a seal whhich makes a better tasting rice the right way.   Put high heat until water is bowiling and steams or bubbles are coming from the edge of the lid,  turn the heat to low quickly.   Be causious of the heavy lid,  rice maybe boiling harder than you realize.   You don’t want to burn the rice! After turn the heat low,  continue to cook on low heat for 20 minutes.

<***IMPORTANT***> Once turn the heat low,  DO NOT OPEN THE LID!!!   Wait to open the lid at least 15 minutes!

Important tip of Japanese-rice cooking
Why you don’t want to open the lid?
Some chefs suggest you wait until rice is boiling let lid put on.   I read some cooking articles.

However, I have never tried this way yet,  so I don’t know if it is good way.   Historically say “Don’t open the lid even if your baby is crying because s/he is hungry.”

If you open lid the durling the cooking,  you won’t cook good rice.   So I am pretty much against taking off the lid when you are cooking Japanese rice.   What will happen is if you do not put lid on or not soak in the water long enough,  the Japanese-rice won’t cook through.   Sometimes the rice will be hard in the middle.   So,  do not remove the lid when you are cooking Japanese rice.

How to keep the uncooked Japanese-rice
It is important to properly store the rice because it may change the taste.
The taste of rice will start changing after polishing the rice.  The amount you should buy would be a enough for 2 month in the winter,  2 weeks in the summer.

Also when you buy the rice,  put it in a round rice container.   Keep the rice in low humidity and low temperature,  dark and cool place.

How to keep the cooked Japanese-rice
If you use rice cooker,  you may be able to keep in the cooked rice in the same cooker.   It keep the same temperature in the cooker and that way,  you can keep the rice for 24 hrs.
I freeze rice almost right away (well, after cool down the rice) because I don’t want to cook everyday.   I think it is convenient to freeze the one meal amount,  so I can thaw the rice when I want to eat it.

Keep rice in the rice cooker would change the rice color and taste.   Freezing rice doesn’t this effect.

What kind of Japanese Brand Rice you can buy in U.S?
American Japanese rice brand is good taste.   When I came to U.S.  there were only a few brand Japanese-rice.   Now there are so many Japanese rice brands of rice here in the U.S.   Those are almost same as Japanese made rice.
This is what I buy now.  (Picture – Hitomebore)


I buy this rice brand and so do many of my co-workers and their families.   I guess it is the best rice that I can buy in my area.   You may not be able to find the same one.   I tried “Tama Nishiki” for long time.   It is good tasting rice.   Just “Nishiki” is not so good.   (Yes,  it is priced different)

If you can really tell the taste difference,  you should go to Asian store and find rice.

Regular supermarket may have Japanese rice,  I can not find good one there at all!

But you can buy small bags and experience the difference until you find your favorite one.   Some people said “Tamaki” brand is good;  I bought Tamaki when I was in College and I thought it is much better than what I was buying from local supermarket at that time.   But I don’t want to buy it now.

“Tamaki Gold” could be OK,  if I don’t have mistake.   But I prefer buying this picture one now.

I may put more names if I have chance to eat other American Japanese rice brand and think its good on my web page later.