hiyayakko (japanese cold tofu)
Well, it’s August now and it’s gonna be a hot one. I grew up in Washington, D.C., a city where all the locals know enough to flee for as much of August as they can to avoid the sickeningly hot, sticky days (and nights). Did you know that D.C. was actually built on a swamp? Most tourists don’t seem to know, because they all flock to the city in August, the hottest, stickiest most miserable month you could spend there. You’d think that growing up with such humid summers that I would be used to humidity, but I’m not. I hate it. I’d take a 105 degree day in the desert over 95 degrees in 90% humidity. For just that reason, growing up I spent my summers at an amazing wilderness expedition camp based out of Thoreau, NM.
Now that I’m older, things are considerably more complicated. I keep hoping some grant will pop up that will pay me to go on vacation for all of August, but until then, I have bills to pay, which means a job to work. To make matters worse, I’ve been working from home since my knee surgery because I can sit more comfortably and don’t have to walk as much. The problem is that, unlike the office, we don’t have air conditioning. This is inevitably the point when Joseph would interject to say we do have AC, so I will clarify. We have one window unit that we have literally used twice all summer (as in two consecutive nights during that heat wave a couple weeks ago) because it’s so expensive to run. Sigh. How I miss you, AC.
There are days when it is just too hot to turn on the oven or the stove and this Japanese dish is just the solution. Not only that, but it’s so fast and easy, that you’ll be back out on the porch with your strawberry basil mojito in no time, because if it’s that hot outside, that’s what you should be doing. The tofu, drizzled with soy sauce and sesame oil and topped with ginger, green onions, and bonito flakes, is just so cool and refreshing that the next 90+ degree day that comes along you’ll be so glad you have this recipe.
Hiyayakko (Japanese Cold Tofu)
Adapted from The Kitchn
While we served this up as a light lunch, it would also be a great starter for a meal. Serve with an ice cold Asahi Super Dry.
Please note that you can use the toppings of your choice. If you don’t have or don’t want to use bonito flakes or any of the other toppings, just skip ‘em!
- 1 block (14 ounces) chilled silken or firm tofu, or fresh tofu if you can find it (or make it!)
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons bonito flakes (katsuobushi)
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced (green part)
- 1 teaspoon gomasio (sesame salt)
- Drain the water from the tofu. Cut the block into bite-sized cubes.
- Combine the soy sauce and sesame oil.
- Put each serving in a small bowl and drizzle with the soy sauce mixture. Top with bonito flakes, the grated ginger, scallions, and gomasio. Serve immediately.
Number of servings (yield): 2