Yudoufu: Boiled Soft Tofu
I’m always amazed by my Western friends’ horrified reaction when I say I’m making tofu. It’s hard to think of any food where there’s a bigger gap between the way Japanese people perceive it and the way Western people do.
For people in the West, tofu’s just gnarly health food: something vaguely unappetizing vegetarians use instead of meat. But in Japan, tofu is high cuisine: an artisanal dish made fresh daily that can fetch premium prices at top restaurants.
In Kyoto, in particular, yudoufu is an obsession: a prized delicacy served in traditional restaurants housed inside Zen monasteries, including the famous 13th century Nanzen-ji Temple. The reason, I think, is that yudoufu is the essense of tofu: a simple, delicate dish that works wonderfully if it’s made with very high quality soft tofu.
- 300 grams of soft (silken) tofu: the fancier the better. If you live in a city with a big Asian community, you should try to get it fresh.
- Dried kombu (edible sea-kelp)
For the sauce
- Soy sauce
- Rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- Mix 3 table spoons of soy sauce and 3 table spoons of vinegar. In Japan we would use rice vinegar, but I find that apple cider vinegar is just as good.
- Fill a small pot with cold water
- Add the dried kombu
- Heat to a boil
- Place the tofu in your hand and cut it into 150 g. pieces. It’s important to do this on your hand, not on a cutting board, to avoid the tofu coming apart.
- Boil over a medium flame for five minutes
- Gently lift the tofu out of the pot with a slotted spoon, try to keep it from breaking it apart
- Place each portion in a bowl
- Dress with the soy sauce – vinegar mixture.
click to enlarge
You should eat this right after boiling, while it’s still hot.
For lunch today, I made my husband some yudoufu as the main dish in 1-soup, 1-dish, alongside rice, miso soup, and goya.