Freeze-Dried Tofu and Daikon
Freeze-dried tofu (koya-dofu) is a versatile ingredient that I’ve recently discovered in Japanese cooking. After it’s been reconstituted, its texture is similar to a sponge and readily absorbs flavors. Although the spongy nature of koya-dofu takes a little getting used to, it has an inherently pleasant quality to it and the taste is mild. Another nice thing about the texture is that it doesn’t break apart like regular tofu after prolonged simmering; it’s actually “chewy” and would make a good meat substitute. Another way to use it is to grate it in its dried form to use as a type of flour. The possibilities are exciting and I’m looking forward to working with it to create healthy food. Koya-dofu is a great source of protein, inexpensive and easy to cook.
What’s interesting about koya-dofu is that it was discovered by Buddhist monks long ago in Japan when they placed the tofu outside only to discover that after the freezing temperatures, the tofu had become firmer and more resilient in texture. The tofu was then dried and it was able to be stored for a long period of time.
Simmered Freeze-Dried Tofu and Daikon
2 blocks of dried-frozen tofu (0.6 ounce each)
3-inch piece of daikon, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
½ block konnyaku, cut into triangles
1 ½ cups kombu stock (save the kombu)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon sake
1. Place the tofu into plenty of cold water and soak for 15 minutes. Use a weight if necessary to keep the tofu in the water. After it has reconstituted, remove the tofu and squeeze out the excess water. Cut each tofu block in half.
2. Heat a pot of water to a boil and add the daikon pieces; boil for 5 minutes and remove the daikon. In the same water, boil the konnyaku pieces for 5 minutes and drain.
2. Put the stock, soy sauce, sugar, mirin and sake into a 2 to 3-quart pot and heat until it is boiling gently. Add the tofu, daikon and konnyaku and bring it to a gentle boil for 5 minutes. Turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes (or longer) or until most of the water has evaporated. You may need to baste the ingredients with the simmering liquid from time to time if they are not in contact with the liquid. Cool and reheat again before serving or serve at room temperature. Garnish with pieces of kombu and carrots.