- MAGIC FOR BOTH BODY AND TASTE BUDS
& COOKING ARTICLE
is soya bean curd made from coagulated soya milk
article originally appeared in The Japan Times and
has been published with the permission of its author
Yukari Pratt. Yukari writes for Tokyo`s Metropolis
magazine and for the The Japan Times. She has contributed
to the guidebook, Time Out Tokyo and to Time magazine.
Yukari has been profiled in GQ Japan and The Daily
Yomiuri. A Japanese food fanatic, whose mother is
Japanese, she is on a mission to bring the food of
Japan to as many people as possible.
hobbies include soaking in "onsen" hot springs,
drinking shochu, fly-fishing and motorcycling.
the summer heat sets in, my Japanese mother religiously
serves hiyayakko (chilled tofu) sprinkled with
katsuobushi (bonito flakes) and soy sauce. Just
looking at this simple dish, I feel myself starting
to cool down, knowing that tofu actually helps lower
your body temperature.
refrigerant, anti-cancer agent, cholesterol combatant
- the list of tofu's reputed health benefits is long.
It is difficult to overrate just how good tofu (made
from soy beans) can be for your health.
think soy has the potential to be a magical ingredient,"
said Jacqueline B Marcus RD, a food and nutrition consultant
from Northfield, Illinois. "Research in several
areas of health has shown soy may play a role in lowering
risk for diseases such as heart disease, osteoporosis,
diabetes and cancer."
contain five classes of compounds that have been identified
as anticarcinogens," Marcus said. "Further,
research indicates soy protein may help lower blood
products have many reputed health benefits
and conveniently comes in an astonishingly
wide variety of forms, including noodle-like
somen tofu (left) and "Charisma"
tofu with whole soy beans.
Yoshiaki Miura Photo
made from soybeans have varying amounts of isoflavones,
plant compounds with weak estrogenic activity that may
be one of the key factors in disease protection, according
to Marcus. There are also benefits for post menopausal
little as 40 grams of soy protein consumed daily for
six months can increase bone mineral content and bone
density," Marcus said. (Forty grams of soy protein
is the equivalent of one cup of soy milk, 4 ounces of
tofu, or 4 ounces of edamame.)
Marcus notes that, "Although tofu is relatively
low in calories, it does have a fair amount of fat."
suggests 2 - 3 servings a day: a handful of edamame,
plus a cup of soy milk, or some tofu over a salad.
the US, the allowable health claim on food labels states
that 25 grams of soy protein daily may lower disease
risk, but no formal recommendation for daily isoflavone
intake has been established," says Marcus.
there is still so much to learn from Asians whose diets
have typically been rich in soy, there are many unanswered
questions for Westerners who may just be introducing
soy into their diets. Until more is determined, it may
be best to eat (it) moderately with balance and variety,
and include soy as part of a wholesome diet," she
soy is not just a health food, and after all that talk
about health and diets, Marcus wanted to provide her
own recommendations for how to use soy milk: in pancakes,
French toast, hot chocolate or in a smoothie.
is a versatile ingredient that comes in a wide variety
of forms ranging from savory to sweet. Of course, it
often gets a bad rap for being plain, and that is no
surprise. I remember as a child growing up in the United
States, and discovering, with bewilderment and some
disgust, that a friend's family stored their tofu in
the cupboard, and that it had a shelf-life of one year.
it is time to abandon that image of tofu as a hippie's
flavorless substitute for meat. One would be mad not
to explore the many different types of tofu that can
be found in Japan. It actually tastes good here.
options with Tofu
Yukari Pratt Photo
of my summer favorites is tofu somen, which comes as
delicate, thin strands of tofu that could easily be
mistaken for somen (wheat) noodles. Another unique tofu
is edamame-studded and curiously named "Charisma"
a change of pace, there is always deep-fried tofu: abura-age
(thin style) or atsu-age (thicker version), which adds
an extra layer of richness to miso soup. The abura-age
can be cut into thick strips, toasted in the oven and
used as crouton toppings for a salad. My latest crave
is cheese stuffed into abura-age and slowly sauteed
until the cheese comes oozing out of the packets.
production of tofu is surprisingly simple. Soy milk
is coagulated with nigari (magnesium chloride, which
can be extracted from sea water), explains Yukiko Hayashi,
author of the cookbook "Tofu Zanmai (Tofu Obsession)."
through the four main types of tofu, Hayashi explains
that Momen dofu is firm and good in stir-fries or rolled
in almonds or sesame seeds and sauteed for tofu steak.
Kinugoshi dofu (silken tofu) is her recommendation for
miso soup. One (adapted) dish from her cookbook that
packs a lot of punch is garlic, peanuts, chirimen jako
(baby sardines) and sakura ebi (dried shrimp) sauteed
in oil and poured over kinugoshi dofu and seasoned with
Thai nam pla fish sauce. For a Korean twist, try a dressing
of chopped raw tuna, kimchi, soy sauce, sesame oil and
and yosedofu have a high water content and therefore
are very soft on the palate. Zarudofu is served in a
zaru, or woven basket, hence the name. Both have an
inherent amami, or sweetness, to them, and Hayashi suggests
serving zarudofu with top-quality olive oil and sea
salt, or alternatively grated ginger or nerigarashi
(Japanese mustard) with soy sauce.
in Liquid Form
also suggests cooking with soy milk, which has about
half of the calories of regular milk, though she warns
that it has a strong aroma. Therefore it is best served
with strong-flavored drinks such as a well-brewed cup
of tea or cafe au lait, or incorporated into a stew
can also be used in a tasty dessert:
a silky, rich chocolate pie, melt 1 1/2 cups of chocolate
chips. Meanwhile, soften two 280 gram packs of room-temperature
kinugoshi tofu in a blender, then fold in the melted
chocolate chips and mix until combined. Pour the mixture
into a pre-made pie crust and let it set in the refrigerator
until firm. It is hard to believe it was made with
tofu, and it is confounding to think a food can be
so yummy and still good for you.
the potential health benefits may be the motivation
for some people to explore tofu, the real test of how
good a food is is always the taste.
business Yubahan has been making yuba since
Yukari Pratt Photo
your own Tofu
tofu may be the easiest Japanese dish you will ever
make, bar none. You may find yourself, as I did, shaking
your head at the pot thinking, "it's that easy,
and this delicious?"
the tofu corner of your supermarket, not the dairy
section where you find regular soy milk, for a bottle
of soy milk with a small packet of nigari (magnesium
chloride) attached to it.
the soy milk over medium heat until bubbles start
to form. Take it off the heat, add the little pack
of nigari, stir a bit and, as it starts to curdle,
stop and let it rest. Spoon it into serving bowls
and top with a citrusy-soy ponzu.
you are up for a more difficult dish, Hayashi suggests
making yuba sashimi, a classic dish from Kyoto, from
scratch. Creamy, delicate layers of yuba tofu garnished
with freshly grated wasabi and a splash of soy sauce
is an elegant appetizer. The layers of yuba are creamy
yet chewy, with a strong, nutty soy profile.
first step is to get good quality tonyu soy milk from
your neighborhood tofu shop. In a large Teflon pan,
add the soy milk - a large pan gives you a larger
surface to make the yuba from and the Teflon coating
helps prevent the soy milk from burning. Apply strong
heat and, just before it begins to boil, drop the
heat to low simmer. Be patient as the skin slowly
forms on the soy milk. With a pair of long chopsticks,
gently pick up your piece of yuba and set aside in
a serving dish.
23 September 2006