Have Fun With….Tofu: She Is Great!

Posted on Aug 2, 2017 in Hiroko's Blog

fun, delicious, feeling good

Do you always pass by tofu at the market, glance it but never pick her up? Do you eat tofu only because it is vegetarian/vegan, but not because of its taste? Tofu will weep if this is how you treat it. .

Here is a great way for you to begin with a real, tasty tofu dish and the ability to enjoy it in so many ways. This quick & easy tofu dressing makes a great sandwich filling by itself or with other sandwich ingredients, a delicious pasta sauce and is wonderful on a traditional Japanese or American salad. Delicious, healthy, filling …who needs more? It is also perfect to offer to your family or friends as part of a varied dietary choice.

The dressing is called Shira-ae. It is a traditional Japanese tofu dressing in which sesame seeds are ground to oily, pasted consistency; tofu is added and ground together with the sesame seeds until becoming a rather fine pasty material. I like it in a slightly coarse version. It is then flavored with some dashi, shoyu (soy sauce), mirin, sugar and salt.

Here is my own very delicious walnut Shira-ae recipe. Walnuts are a replacement for sesame seeds. I first roast chopped walnuts (nuts should be well warmed up, so that they produce oil and lovely fragrance). Add them to a suribachi mortar and grind them with a surigoki pestle (read about suribachi and surikogi in my previous blog: https://hirokoskitchen.com/2017/07/suribachi-is-powerful/ ). When the ground nuts begin to acquire an oily texture, I add firm tofu, which has already been squeezed in a cloth to remove excess water and has been roughly mashed by my hands. Grind all the ingredients together until tofu achieves my favorite texture – not a fine pasty one, but a rather coarser texture. Flavor this with shoyu (soy sauce), mirin (I will tell you my recent recovery – the Best Mirin Substitute in my next blog) and salt and continue to grind. Then, adjust the texture by adding little dashi (Japanese stock). Adding dashi does two things – 1) Make the dressing softer, 2) Add additional umami to the dressing. But, I warn you that adding too much dashi will dilute your dressing and causes a disaster in the dish that you are preparing. When I use Shira-ae for my sandwich filling I do not add dashi. For pasta sauce the pasta water replaces dashi. So, you can make your own decision about the added liquid. By the way for my Shira-ae pasta sauce I add additional flavors such as garlic, olive oil, spices and always little additional salt.

Preparing Shira-ae dressing with Japanese tools requires less than 10 minutes fun time in the kitchen. For those who do not have a suribachi and surikogi, use a food processor.

Here is my recipe. If you come up with some other very good variation of Shira-ae, please send the recipe to me I will post it and share it with the Japanese food lovers.

Walnuts Shira-ae

½ cup broken walnuts, toasted

7 ounces firm tofu

2 tablespoons walnuts butter

2 teaspoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon shoyu (soy sauce)

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon lemon juice


Preparation: please find it in the main text.