Koya Dofu (Freeze-Dried Tofu), My 100th Post!

Posted by on December 15, 2010 in Announcements, Blog, Family Favorites, Japanese Celebrations, Japanese Cuisine Favorites, Special Occasions, Vegetables & Vegetarian | 24 comments

 

Over nine months ago, on March 5, 2010, I posted my very first blog entry. I was extremely nervous before I hit the “Publish” button. It wasn’t even a recipe post, just a simple ‘hello’ to no one in particular, and it read more like a ‘to do’ list. Yet, despite the simplicity of this first post, I was anxious.

The thought of having my words float around in cyberspace made me a little giddy, yet also very self conscious. I shared my first ‘hello’ post with only one friend, Alohagirl. She complimented the look and feel of my blog (that I completed with templates but spent many hours constructing given I am technology-challenged), and this helped boost my confidence a bit, and then in Japanese she encouraged me to ganbaru (to try my best), and told me she was looking forward to reading more about what I was cooking and eating.

At first, I was a little blog-crazy, and I published a post every day for about two to three weeks. Sometimes even posting more than one post per day (after all I often make lunch AND dinner). For several weeks, Alohagirl was my only blog reader and I unabashedly encouraged her to sign-up to receive my posts via email, as well as to leave me comments after she read my blog post. Her comments, and knowing I had one reader, were confidence boosters.

Once I had a few food posts on my blog, I announced my blog to my friends and family, established a link to my Facebook page and then I joined a food blog community to broaden my foodie horizons. I “met” a couple of really great people through this community who I now consider friends, and whose food blogs I try to follow regularly.

The funny thing, is that now, I’m not self-conscious about my blog posts, and I don’t worry about who is or isn’t reading my blog. I cook and write, simply because I enjoy doing so. Everyone has hobbies and interests, and since I can only shop so much and I don’t have much time to myself to play golf or practice yoga, I cook. I’m killing two birds with one stone since I have to feed my family anyway! :) My blog is a great hobby.

My blog is also an outlet for my random thoughts, like a journal, but I always keep in mind that someday, the kids will (hopefully) read my blog and enjoy getting to know me through my many blog posts. To me, my blog is more than just our family’s “recipe legacy”. It’s now an extension of me. It’s like my digital baby. (Does that sound cheezy, or what?)

So, with all of that said, I happily celebrate my 100th blog post, with (drumroll please), none other than, FREEZE DRIED food.

Believe me, I’ve been thinking about what to post for my 100th blog post for about two months. At first, I thought about a number of great cheesecake desserts since I love, love, love cheesecake. Then I thought about a variety of chocolate treats, but ultimately, I settled on, none other than, a childhood favorite, koya-dofu.

Koya dofu is freeze dried tofu, believed to have been developed in the Edo Period (1603 to 1867) on Mount Koya in Japan. During this period, Mount Koya was considered the preeminent Buddhist temple. According to legend, one night, a monk unintentionally left a block of tofu outdoors (or perhaps on an altar) where it froze. The next morning, the monk discovered the frozen block of tofu, allowed it to thaw and ate it. The once-frozen tofu had a unique spongy texture and an interestingly pleasing flavor. Tofu, a staple among monks, was highly valued as a high source of protein and calcium. Over the next 50 years, freeze dried tofu, became known as ‘koya dofu’ and increased in popularity. (Source: Soy Info Center) Today, there are several Japanese dishes that use koya dofu as an ingredient.

Of the Japanese New Year’s food that my mom makes, koya dofu is my favorite.  Sometimes, she’d make it during the off-holiday season, using this wonderful spongy food in different Japanese dishes, and other times she would serve it plain (my favorite), and it would make my day.

When I was younger, I only knew koya dofu as, “the spongy food” we ate at New Year’s.  As I got older, I always wondered how my mom made this amazingly strange, juicy and spongy food.

Finally, my mom and I went grocery shopping together at Marukai and I asked her to teach me how to make my favorite spongy tofu.  She said in Japanese, “oh it’s so easy!”  I suspiciously thought to myself “hmmmmm…”  Then she selected a package off the shelf that said, “koya dofu” and said in Japanese, “that’s all we need!”

Mystery debunked.

The stuff comes out of a box!

The tofu is freeze dried and the package includes little seasoning packets.  My mom doesn’t use all of the seasoning packets, and instead she adds a splash of shoyu (soy sauce) and mirin (sweet cooking sake) for added flavor.

The package is all in Japanese so here is my translation of the instructions.

Koya Dofu

1 tofu square = 1.5 cups water

2 tofu squares = 2 cups water

3 tofu squares = 2.5 cups water

4 tofu squares = 3 cups water

5 tofu squares = 3.5 cups water

The package includes one seasoning packet per tofu square.

Directions:

  1. Add water into a small pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the seasoning packet and a splash of shoyu and mirin to the sauce and allow this to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes before adding the dried tofu.
  3. Next, simmer the tofu and broth over medium – low heat for 10 – 15 minutes until most of the water boils off.
  4. Allow the tofu to cool. Slice and serve.

When my mom cooks all 5 tofu squares, she only uses 2 packets of the seasoning and then adds approximately 1 1/2 teaspoons shoyu and 2 teaspoons mirin.

I cooked 2 tofu squares and used 1 packet and added a splash of the shoyu and mirin and it was delicious! I tasted the simmering sauce as I cooked, and adjusted the shoyu and mirin so that it tasted just like the koya dofu my mom makes. I believe the seasoning packet adds sweetness, and if you are daring, you could very well season this by simply sprinkling a bit of sugar along with the shoyu and mirin.

Before
Freeze dried koya dofu simmering in pot.


After
Fully cooked koya dofu. See how big it gets?

Let the tofu cool to room temperature.  Then slice lengthwise, approximately 1/2 inch thick.  Serve.

There are other Japanese dishes that my mom makes occasionally with koya dofu, but I will save these for posts in the future. Koya dofu on it’s own is, after all, my favorite, and what better way to celebrate my 100th post than with something that comes out of a box. What can I say, while we would all enjoy eating gourmet, homemade, elegant and fresh dishes every night for dinner, the reality is that life gets busy. Sometimes take-out is a life saver, other times spaghetti out of the jar or homemade burritos made with packaged taco seasoning work wonders and are just as satisfying as a gourmet meal. Other times, a little bit of spongy koya dofu heaven that comes out of a box brings back wonderful nostalgic memories of childhood and special oshogatsu holidays and is just as spectacular as a gourmet dinner.

Both Bebe Dada and Big Onechan asked questions about the strange spongy tofu, and with hesitation both took bites and discovered that they enjoyed the way it tasted and both agreed that they would happily eat this again. We are happily discovering that Bebe E loves many of the same foods I love. Spongy koya dofu was no exception. She loves koya dofu – – – she’s a ‘mini me’!

Now, on to the award…

I confess, that sometimes, I will work on a single post over the course of 1 to 3 weeks. This is one such post as I’ve been busy with holiday preparations and festivities. I’ve been writing a paragraph here, or uploading a photo there. Even if some posts don’t take me more than a few days to complete, I rarely write a post in a single sitting. Fortunately, because of this habit, I received an award last Friday as I was trying to complete the draft of this 100th post. What a wonderfull way for me to celebrate this post and I have no one but Alisha to thank.

Thank you so much, Alisha (aka Magic of Spice) of The Ardent Epicure for recognizing my blog with the One Lovely Blog Award!
I’m honored to receive recognition from such a talented and creative professional chef.
Alisha’s blog is a family effort with several talented chefs featuring a wonderful array of dishes and cooking tips. To me, their blog is very educational and I’m always learning something new when I stop by for a visit.
Please take a moment to visit Alisha’s blog to find out what’s cookin’ in their kitchen.

I’m hoping to publish one holiday post before Christmas arrives but every day is proving to be busier than the day before. In addition to running a host of errands I am still trying to make time to read to Bebe E and play with her. She’s been such a trooper tagging along with Mommy on many errands and helping me wrap (wrestling with wrapping paper and fighting to get Scotch tape because it’s like a sticker and therefore “fun”), clean (Mommy says, “put that back please” several hundred times during the day and sings the “clean-up” song equally as many times; occasionally she will put something back in her basket), and cook (she brings her toys, books or her blankey to the kitchen and sits on our Chef’s Mat or the little kitchen stool to keep me company).

Needless to say, she’s the best little helper Mommy could have ever asked for, and for this I am so thankful this holiday season. I am also looking forward to next week when Big Onechan will be on her Winter break. Not just so that she can help me out but it’s downright more fun and entertaining when she’s around. She’s so funny sometimes. Again, I have so much to be thankful for this holiday season so if you don’t hear from me next week, you know I’ll be happy and busy at home.  May you and your family also enjoy a wonderful, safe and joyous holiday season.

Judy | bebe mama

 

Koya Dofu (Freeze-Dried Tofu)
Author: 
Recipe type: Side Dish, Appetizer
 
Ingredients
  • Use following guide for water:
  • 1 tofu square = 1.5 cups water
  • 2 tofu squares = 2 cups water
  • 3 tofu squares = 2.5 cups water
  • 4 tofu squares = 3 cups water
  • 5 tofu squares = 3.5 cups water
  • Mirin
  • Shoyu
  • Seasoning packet
Instructions
  1. Add water into a small pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the seasoning packet and a splash of shoyu and mirin to the sauce and allow this to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes before adding the dried tofu.
  3. Next, simmer the tofu and broth over medium - low heat for 10 - 15 minutes until most of the water boils off.
  4. Allow the tofu to cool. Slice and serve.
  5. When my mom cooks all 5 tofu squares, she only uses 2 packets of the seasoning and then adds approximately 1½ teaspoons
  6. shoyu and 2 teaspoons mirin.
  7. Let the tofu cool to room temperature.
  8. Slice lengthwise, approximately ½ inch thick.  Serve.

24 Comments

  1. avatar

    Omedetou on your award and for your 100th post!! WOW! I’m amazed that you’ve reached that 100 mark!! Sugoi, sugoi!!

    Sounds like you’ve been busy, busy, busy! I’m glad that my comments gave you the confidence to keep blogging!! You’ve done a great job, Judy!! Gambatta ne!! :)

    Koya dofu….hmm…..interesting food…I don’t recall eating this by itself, but I do know I’ve eaten it in different dishes. The spongy texture is quite unusual and is something I like as well.

    By the way, like the snow falling….

    Happy Holidays to you and your family!!

    • avatar

      Hi Friend, Thanks! I’ll have to compare my mom’s koya dofu dish notes w/ your mom’s dishes to see if there are any similarities. :) Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you and yours. Your little one’s gift is on it’s way and hopefully will arrive by Sat. :)

  2. avatar

    Hello Bebe Mama!

    CONGRATULATIONS on blog post #100….and on the award! You truly deserve it!

    Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season. Take care and hope to see you real soon!

    Love to you,
    Sharie

    • avatar

      Hi there, Turtle Mama! Thank you so much! I hope to see you and the family soon too. :) xoxo

  3. avatar

    congrats! to many more blog posts! xoxo

  4. avatar

    Congratulations, Judy! Wow, gambatta na!? :)
    I love your blog and have added it to my blog roll.
    I have not seen koya tofu in the Japanese store, but maybe because I wasn’t looking for it. I don’t think I’ve had this in over a decade? I think I had it in Japan. The description of its sponginess sounded familiar!

    Hope you have a wonderful holiday season with your family. :)

    • avatar

      Hi Melissa, Thanks! Yes, definitely yoku ganbarimashita, but I must admit that I’m falling off the wagon a bit. I attribute this to my ever-increasingly active baby (ok, she’s really a toddler but I don’t like to admit this). Thanks for adding me to your blog roll. I should figure out that feature for my blog. I love your blog too and look forward to many more posts (and books) from you! Hope you’re having a great season too. :)

  5. avatar

    Judy – Congratulations! That is quite an accomplishment. I know how hard it is to keep up with blogging while having other things in life. (I started a few months before you did, and I am not even there at the half mark of yours.) You’ve been great! Keep up the good work.

    • avatar

      Hi Hyosun, Thank you! Honestly, the only reason I’ve been able to post as much as I have is largely because I’m not working now. I’m amazed at how much you cook and post in addition to your work responsibilities! Kudos to you! Hope you’re enjoying the holidays.

  6. avatar

    Aloha from Hawaii! I never even heard of koya-dofu. But maybe I’ll pick it up one of these days. Last tofu recipe I made was with ground pork in a Sichuan-style sauce. Not bad for store bought. Marukai is a great store but I usually go to Don Quijote cuz it’s closer! Have a happy holidays!

    • avatar

      Aloha! Is that Chinese mabo tofu that you made? I used to buy the packaged sauce but it’s too spicy and too salty for my baby so I started making this pork soup-like mabo tofu with no spices. It’s funny you mention Don Quijote because that is exactly where my friend buys her Japanese groceries but I told her it sounded like a Spanish grocery store. :) Happy holidays to you as well.

  7. avatar

    Congrats, Judy! I’m sorry to be a few days late (I seem to have missed a lot of posts on the 15th!). I’m so glad to have connected with you through our blogs. I’ve learned so much about Japanese food through your posts. Please keep them coming. :-)

    • avatar

      Thanks for the kind words, Jean! I too have learned a lot from your blog and look forward to your posts. Happy holidays. :)

  8. avatar

    Hi Judy,
    Congratulations on your 100th post how exciting…and of course a well deserved award :) I do not think I have ever tried koya dofu, but it sounds familiar somehow? Definitely sounds like something I would love…
    Thank you so much for your wonderful words and wishing a wonderful Holiday to you and your family.

  9. avatar

    Congratulations for your 100th post! That is quite an accomplishment.
    Congratulation on the blog award also.

    New Year begins, let us pray,
    that it will be a year with new Peace,
    New Happiness, and abundance of new friends,
    God bless you through out the new Year.

    • avatar

      Thank you so much! May you have a wonderful New Year! :)

  10. avatar

    Congrats on the 100th post and happy new year :)

  11. avatar

    Happy new year! I love your blog. When the stores reopen on Sunday, I’m going to see if I can get some koya dofu and shiratamako. You’ve made me hungry!

    Please visit my blog sometime. It’s nothing like yours, but I have some food posts that might pique your interest.

    • avatar

      Hi, Thanks so much for visiting and also for the kind words. I will definitely stop by your blog. I’ll look forward to seeing you again soon. Happy New Year to you too!

  12. avatar

    Hi. Sorry I guess I zapped to another recipe.

    I am a terminal cancer patient and the kemo is draining the mineral Magnesium from my body. My oncologist is worried. I can only swallow flyids up the consistency of medium gravy. This tofu contains the highest level of any tofu. I would love to know who carries it. I will try your dish if I am able to find it. ( and blend it of course)

    • avatar

      Brian, I’m sorry to hear of your prognosis. You might want to try Amazon.com if there are no Japanese markets near you. I’ve always been able to find hard to find items on Amazon. I wish you well.

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