7 images of Japanese tofu dishes collaged for Pinterest with text overlay

Tofu is a staple in Japanese cuisine. This versatile and nutritious ingredient is sourced from soybeans, making it a complete, 100% plant-based protein. From tasty miso soup to crispy agedashi tofu, there are countless ways to enjoy tofu in traditional Japanese dishes. Here we’ll explore seven delicious tofu dishes that showcase the versatility and flavor of this beloved Japanese cuisine ingredient. Whether you’re a tofu lover or want to incorporate more plant-based options into your diet, these delicious recipes are sure to satisfy your craving for authentic Japanese flavors.

Collage of 7 images of Japanese tofu dishes with text overlayCollage of 7 images of Japanese tofu dishes with text overlay

What is tofu

Tofu is a plant protein made from soybeans and water. It has a very mild flavor and often comes in the form of soft, silky, firm or very firm blocks. The process of making tofu involves coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curd into these blocks. It is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide range of dishes, from stir-fries to desserts. Tofu is a popular alternative to meat for many people following vegetarian or vegan diets. It is especially important in Asian cuisine and has been consumed for centuries in Japan.

History of tofu

Tofu has a long history in Japan. The origins of tofu itself, however, are a mystery, but it is believed to have originated in China over 2,000 years ago. Its exact introduction to Japan is also unclear, but it is said to have occurred during the Nara period (710-784) when Buddhism was brought to Japan. Buddhist monks who avoided meat and fish in their diets sought alternatives to meat from plant-based foods. For this reason, tofu became a key ingredient used in temples to supplement the protein source and was a fundamental part of the shojin ryōri (vegetarian cuisine).

During the Edo period (1603-1868), tofu gained popularity among common people due to its convenience and nutritional value. Tofu was often eaten as a meat substitute or as part of vegetarian dishes, making it an important source of protein for many people.

A book titled “Tofu Hyakuchin”, which introduced 100 types of tofu dishes, was published during the Edo period in the year 1782 and was a great success. A sequel was published the following year, followed by an appendix. In total, there are approximately 240 types of dishes introduced in the three books. That’s why tofu was a widely used ingredient during the Edo period.

Today, Japan is one of the world’s largest consumers of tofu, with various regional variations and specialty shops dedicated exclusively to producing high-quality tofu. Tofu’s rich background in Japan highlights its importance as a staple food deeply rooted in the country’s culture, history and culinary traditions.

reference : http://www.tofu-as.com/tofu/history/20.html

Nutritional benefits of tofu

Tofu is a popular plant-based protein source that offers a variety of nutritional benefits. Here are some of the main nutritional benefits of tofu:

1. High in protein: Tofu is an excellent source of plant-based protein, making it a great option for vegetarians and vegans looking to meet their protein needs. A 100 g (about 3 ounce) serving of tofu can contain about 8 to 10 grams of protein.

2. Low in calories: Tofu is relatively low in calories compared to other sources of protein such as meat and cheese. This makes it a great option for those looking to maintain or lose weight while still getting essential nutrients.

3. Rich in essential amino acids: Tofu contains all nine essential amino acids that our body cannot produce on its own. These amino acids are critical for building and repairing body tissues.

4. Good source of iron and calcium: Tofu is rich in iron, which helps transport oxygen throughout the body and plays a key role in energy production. It also contains calcium, which is important for bone health and muscle function.

5. Contains heart-healthy fats: Tofu is low in saturated fat and cholesterol, making it a heart-healthy alternative to animal-based proteins.

7 delicious Japanese recipes with tofu

Homemade tofu – How to prepare tofu at home

Making tofu at home isn’t as daunting as it sounds. The ingredients are accessible and the method is easy to follow, so you can have your own fresh, flavorful and healthy homemade tofu!

a block of homemade tofu transferred to a bowl of cold watera block of homemade tofu transferred to a bowl of cold water

tofu steak

Stir-fried tofu steak is a delicious and satisfying vegan dish. Simply grill extra-firm tofu and coat it with a combination of mirin and soy sauce for a slightly sweet flavor. You can also make homemade teriyaki sauce to use as a coating and turn it into a teriyaki tofu steak. Serve with vegetables and rice, and garnish the tofu with some sesame seeds and shichimi togarashi for a touch of spice. It’s so quick and easy to make, yet so tasty and filling!

two pieces of tofu steak on a plate with wilted green leaves two pieces of tofu steak on a plate with wilted green leaves

Tofu Agedashi

Agedashi tofu is a very popular Japanese dish and for good reason! Soft tofu is coated in potato starch (or cornstarch) then fried until it has a thin, crispy coating. The crispy tofu is then served in a tasty dashi broth, making it the perfect combination of textures and flavors. It’s so simple and light yet incredibly delicious, making it a popular appetizer or side dish in many Japanese restaurants.

agedashi tofu served with green shishito peppers and grated ginger.  sauce poured overagedashi tofu served with green shishito peppers and grated ginger.  sauce poured over

Hiyayakko cold tofu

Hiyayakko is a traditional Japanese dish consisting of cold, silken tofu cubes topped with various seasonings and garnishes. Since cold tofu itself doesn’t have much flavor, we improve it by adding things like green onions, scallions, grated ginger, seaweed, shiso leaves and soy sauce. It’s another simple but very refreshing dish and is especially popular in Japan during the hot summer months, when you want a light, refreshing meal.

Cold hiyayakko tofu is served with side dishes.Cold hiyayakko tofu is served with side dishes.

Shira-Ae Tofu Mashed Salad

Shira-ae is one of my favorite traditional Japanese tofu dishes. It is a creamy and refreshing salad with mashed tofu as the base. This light and healthy dish is typically packed with other ingredients such as vegetables, konnyaku and hijiki, then seasoned for flavor. Just make sure to drain the excess moisture in the tofu as usual and prepare the salad right before serving so it doesn’t get soggy!

Shiraae Tofu Mashed Salad served in a shallow bowlShiraae Tofu Mashed Salad served in a shallow bowl

Mitarashi Dango

Tofu isn’t just for savory dishes, it can be used in desserts too! Mitarashi dango is a popular Japanese dessert made from skewered rice dumplings, typically coated in a sweet and savory soy sauce glaze and lightly grilled for a toasted flavor. Adding silken tofu to this snack makes it even softer and springier and adds protein!

3 mitarashi dango skewers on a plate with a splash of sauce  3 mitarashi dango skewers on a plate with a splash of sauce

Scrambled Tofu Iri Dofu

Iri Dofu, also known as scrambled tofu, is a delicious and healthy dish. It’s made with soft tofu that’s been crumbled and cooked in a dried shiitake mushroom broth, so it’s full of umami flavor. It also contains pieces of shiitake mushrooms, carrots and other vegetables. You can eat it as a side dish or serve it with a bowl of plain white rice as a main course. Whether enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner, Iri Dofu offers a delicious way to incorporate plant-based protein into your diet.

Scrambled tofu with iridofu is served in a bowlScrambled tofu with iridofu is served in a bowl

Miso soup

Miso soup with tofu is a traditional Japanese dish popular in many places, not just Japan. It’s delicious, comforting, and super easy to make. This simple yet flavorful soup is made from a flavorful broth made from fermented soybean paste, known as miso. It’s filled with soft tofu cubes and many other ingredients, so it’s versatile and easy to adapt. It can be consumed as an appetizer, side dish or enriched with different ingredients to become a substantial single dish.

miso soup with tofu and wakame seaweed served in a small white bowlmiso soup with tofu and wakame seaweed served in a small white bowl

Japanese tofu dishes offer a versatile and nutritious option for those looking to incorporate more plant-based protein into their diet. From savory stir-fries to delicate desserts, there’s a tofu dish to satisfy every palate. With its delicate flavor and ability to absorb the flavors of other ingredients, tofu serves as a blank canvas for creative culinary exploration. These 7 recipes are just a starting point to discover what tofu can do!

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