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JAPAN HOUSE recently invited our followers to vote on which ingredient they’d like to see featured in the next Japanese Food Lab | Home Cooking recipe, choosing between egg, tomato, potato, and tofu. The poll winner with the most votes was tofu, the classic yet multifaceted staple of Japanese cuisine.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that tofu was the big winner, considering how healthy, versatile, and delicious it is. Tofu is incredibly popular in Japan, and comes in several varieties ranging from soft to firm, subtle to flavorful. Made from curdling and then compressing soy milk into white blocks, tofu has been a staple food in Japan since the 8th century, when it was introduced by Zen Buddhist monks who embraced it as part of their vegetarian diet.
As tofu is high-protein, low-fat, and rich in iron and calcium, it’s a perfect substitution for meat or fish, and has spread around the world as more people have adopted plant-forward diets or simply healthier eating. In addition, tofu is gluten-free and the soya protein it contains has been found to lower levels of bad cholesterol. Though tofu is healthy, it luckily doesn’t have to be boring. It’s used in a wide variety of dishes, from hearty stir fry, to decadent desserts like tofu ice cream and mousse.
For this Home Cooking recipe, culinary curator Tomoko Imade Dyen will share how to make a tofu sando in your own kitchen. Pairing lightly fried tofu with crisp, fresh vegetables, this sandwich is incredibly simple yet rich in flavor, and perfect for a hot summer day. This recipe calls for momen or firm tofu that can be more easily cooked without crumbling – as opposed to kinugoshi or silken/soft tofu, which is more suitable for enjoying cold with toppings and soy sauce (hiyayakko), in soups, pureed and even in desserts.
If your work-from-home lunches have gotten a bit repetitive, or you’re looking for a snack to take on an afternoon outing, shake things up with a light and tasty tofu sando!
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- 1 12- to 14-ounce package firm tofu, drained (this will be enough to make 2-3 sandwiches depending on the tofu thickness)
- 2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon yuzu kosho paste (less if you prefer your sandwich less spicy)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 leaves green lettuce (such as romaine or butter) washed and patted dry
- ½ Japanese or Persian cucumber, thinly sliced
- 2 red radishes, thinly sliced
- 2 slices sandwich bread
Wrap the tofu in a few layers of paper towels. Place the wrapped tofu on a plate and top with another plate to weight it and help drain excess water from the tofu. If the top plate is lightweight, a cup or other small item may be placed on it to add more weight. After 2 or 3 hours, much of the water will have drained from the tofu. Remove and discard the paper towels and pat the tofu dry. Slice one piece off the top, horizontally, that is just shy of a half-inch thick.
Mix 1 tablespoon of the mayonnaise with the yuzu kosho, and mix the other tablespoon of mayonnaise with the soy sauce.
Spread the soy sauce and mayonnaise mixture on both sides of the tofu slice, and place in a skillet over medium-high heat. Grill for 3 to 5 minutes per side until golden. Remove from the heat.
Toast the bread lightly and spread with the yuzu kosho and mayonnaise mixture. Top with the grilled tofu, lettuce, cucumber, radish (and any other veggies/herbs you wish). Serve immediately.