Hiyayakko (Traditional Japanese Cold Tofu)

Posted by on June 11, 2012 in Appetizers, Blog, Family Favorites, Japanese Cuisine Favorites, Vegetables & Vegetarian | 18 comments

There’s nothing more traditional in Japanese cuisine than cold tofu simply garnished with sliced green onions, katsuobushi (dried shaved bonito) and fresh grated ginger. This is exactly how my Mom served hiyayakko (cold tofu) to us all the years my brother and I were growing up. (Photo CreditHideki Ueha)

Hiyayakko often made an appearance at dinner as an accompaniment to a meal of grilled fish, steamed rice, miso shiru (soup), and vegetables. We often ate hiyayakko with our meals a few times per week, especially during the warmer months of Spring and Summer. My Mom would serve a small square piece of chilled tofu, just enough for four or five bites. It was always refreshing and somehow made our family meals complete.

When I went away for college, hiyayakko became a simple, high protein, inexpensive, quick, low-prep meal.  In those days, I avoided cooking as much as possible, given I didn’t know how to cook, and honestly, I had no desire to learn. My college version of hiyayakko often involved eating an entire block of tofu (as it was my main course), and this was garnished with shoyu (soy sauce) and katsuobushi, or I would garnish my tofu with shoyu and furikake.

For those of you unfamiliar with furikake, it’s a dried seasoning which is typically reserved for seasoning cooked rice. Almost every kid in Japan grows up eating furikake with their rice, and it’s an iconic part of Japanese food culture. There are many different flavors of furikake available.

Photo Credit: Hideki Ueha

I have good memories of eating hiyayakko during my Summer breaks from college when I usually went home for a few months. In the summer my Mom often garnished our hiyayakko with a chiffonade of fragrant shiso (green perilla leaves) or very thinly sliced chilled myoga ginger which are in season during the warmer months. My parents often grew these in our backyard and while both the shiso and myoga ginger impart very strong flavors, I love both equally when I enjoy hiyayakko. I encourage you try these as garnishes if you decide to make hiyayakko this summer.

Lastly, my Mom used to garnish our hiyayakko with shirasu or baby anchovies. In middle school and high school I always questioned what these tiny fish were, yet I still ate them. There was something about their savory-brininess that I enjoyed with my hiyayakko. Occasionally, when I’m at the Japanese supermarket I’ll come across these and buy a pack to garnish my hiyayakko. Like all the food my Mom used to make for us, hiyayakko is simply, comfort food to me.

Photo Credit: Hideki Ueha

Many thanks to my brother-in-law, Hideki, for taking photos of my hiyayakko. Over the weekend he shared with us that one of his photos placed 8th (out of 94 entries) in a Digital Photography Review (DPR) contest. His photo is available on the DPR website. Congratulations Hideki!

Happy Monday!



Hiyayakko | Traditional Japanese Cold Tofu
Recipe type: Appetizer, Side Dish
Serves: 6
Simple, refreshing and easy to prepare in minutes.
  • 1 block of soft tofu (substitute with medium tofu if preferred)
  • soy sauce or seasoned soy sauce
  • 1 stalk green onions, thinly sliced
  • fresh grated ginger
  • katsuo bushi (dried shaved bonito)
  • optional garnish ideas:
  • shiso (perilla) leaves, chiffonade
  • myoga ginger, thinly sliced
  • shirasu (baby anchovies)
  1. Cut tofu block into six equal pieces. Allow the tofu to drain a bit. You'll find that the tofu releases water the longer it sits. My Mom would often slice our tofu, place it in individual serving dishes and store these in the fridge until we were ready to eat. Just before serving the tofu she would drain the excess water from the tofu that had accumulated in the dish.
  2. Garnish tofu with classic ingredients: green onions, grated ginger and katsuobushi. Serve with soy sauce or seasoned (dashi) soy sauce.


  1. avatar

    Hello, I just found your blog looking for a baby friendly dashi yoshu, and I just love it!!! I love Japanese cuisine, and Asian cuisine, and am excited to be sifting through your archives for recipes. I am somewhat new to the blog world and recently started a blog on cooking for family/baby as a French expat living in LA! So I identify with the multicultural family aspect of your blog too. Looking forward to following it. :-)

    • avatar

      Hi Helene, Welcome to Los Angeles! Well, I’m not in L.A. anymore, but in many ways still consider it my home and refer to myself as a Los Angeleno. ;) Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment. I’ll stop by for a visit at your blog. :)

  2. avatar

    Glad to found your blog. I enjoyed this post very much. Hiyayakko is what I eat quite often at home indeed. I can get pretty nice tofu here in Bay Area, but Adding Myoga sounds very good! I wsa forgetting about Myoga and Shirasu for long time. I do not go to Japanese grocery market so often, but I have never seen it. I will look for carefully next time when I go shopping.
    I would like to try many of your recipes. Nice job! Congratulation!

    • avatar

      Hello! Thank you for stopping by and for your kind words. We’ve been lucky where I live in that we have a number of Japanese and other Asian supermarkets to choose from. We can find many different ingredients and I’m very thankful for that, but it’s not like grocery shopping in Japan! It’s the best, isn’t it?!? :)

  3. avatar

    Congratulations on making the foodbuzz Top 9!

    • avatar

      Thank you!

  4. avatar

    Love this dish — eat it often!
    Congrats on making the Top 9!!!! :)

    • avatar

      Thanks, Melissa!

  5. avatar

    Hi there, I saw this on the Top 9 and I just love it. I have the Kimchi Furikake and I love that too. Tofu though is a huge favorite of mine and I eat it all the time. I like the simplicity of your recipe and will be making this. Also this is my kind of breakfast.

    • avatar

      Thank you! Kimchi furikake sounds amazing. I’ve never tried that before but sounds like something I’d enjoy.

  6. avatar

    Congratulations on your foodbuzz top 9, today!

    • avatar

      Thank you, CJ!

  7. avatar

    Hi Judy! This is great! I made it tonight! I’m learning a lot from your blog!

    • avatar

      Hi Mina! It’s so nice to hear from you! I hope you and the family are well. :) I’m so glad you enjoyed the hiyayakko and that my blog is helpful! Thanks for the kind words. xoxo

  8. avatar

    Hi Judy – This really is a simple and healthy tofu dish! Your brother-in-law is a very talented photographer. Congrats to him on the 8th placement!

    • avatar

      Hi Hyosun! Hideki’s such a great photographer and I’m so lucky he takes my food pictures because I’m not good with the camera! :P

  9. avatar

    I literally was driving home today thinking of this dish at my favorite restaurant and wishing for the recipe. Thank you!

    • avatar

      What a coincidence! :) I hope you’ll enjoy this dish. Cheers!


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