Tofu in Japan


In the February 2010 issue of Bon Appetit, I read an article called Kyoto’s Tofu Obsession. This article stuck with me. I have never traveled anywhere on the continent of Asia, but I think I have found the first place that I want to go. I like tofu. I am not crazy about tofu, but I eat it every couple of weeks. The tofu in Kyoto is handmade daily, has been perfected over centuries and is nothing like the tofu anywhere else. Tofu making there is an art form. The article works to break the stereotype of tofu eaters as skinny, liberal hippies, and states that tofu is beloved by construction workers and truck drivers. This I gotta see.

There are several varieties of tofu in Kyoto. I liken it to varietals of wine. Each seems subtly different from the next, but they are all recognizable as the same basic thing.

Everything about the area seems calm, industrious, and full of flavors, smells and sights.

The types of tofu and styles of preparation is immense, and reminds me a little bit of Forrest Gump’s friend Bubba describing the ways to prepare shrimp. Yudofu, boiled tofu, and yuba, or tofu skin, are particularly interesting to me.

I tried yuba once at the legendary Chicago brunch spot, M Henry. To me, it just tasted salty.

But since I can’t get to Japan any time soon, I will attempt (in a very rudimentary and limited way) to bring it to my kitchen.

My husband and I went to an Asian market, and I asked a clerk, “Do you carry yuba?” He replied, “You mean soba?” I said, “No, yuba. Tofu skin” He said, “Yes, we carry it soft or hard. Which kind would you like?” Me, “I’m not sure….” Him, “Well, which kind do you cook?” I replied, “I don’t, or haven’t.” He sort of rolled his eyes, and I ended up with the soft kind that was in the freezer. I’m glad I did, because that’s exactly what is called for in the recipe Yuba Rolls in newest issue (December 2011) of Vegetarian Times that just came to my door. I had no recipe or idea in mind when I bought it, but now I will try a modification of this one.

My husband selected some fried tofu, Thai green eggplant (yum!), and bok choy, and I picked out some rice noodles. So it will be. Stir fry and yuba rolls. Hopefully we can someday try a much better version of this recipe in Japan.


2 responses »

    • They were great! I think next time I would marinate the yuba first in a little soy sauce and maple syrup, because the yuba didn’t taste like much, but the veggies were great and the rolls held together perfectly.
      Thanks for asking!

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