Koya dofu, or freeze-dried tofu, is a staple in any Japanese pantry. Like most tofu, koya dofu has a mild, nutty flavor but with a delightful spongy texture. When cooked in a broth, the tofu soaks up the liquid, making it almost burst in your mouth when you eat it.
The origins of koya tofu are a bit of a mystery. Legend has it that in the Kamakura period (1185-1333), a monk living high on Mount Koya in Wakayama Prefecture accidentally left his tofu outside in the bitter cold. When he thawed the frozen tofu in the sun and ate it, he discovered it was surprisingly delicious and thus koya dofu was born.
Koya dofu is a traditional part of obanzai cuisine in Kyoto and refers to small, everyday side dishes, often eaten alongside rice and miso soup. This style of eating developed in Kyoto at a time when it was difficult to transport fresh ingredients into the city given its location in a basin surrounded by mountains. As a result, people living in Kyoto developed many side dishes, like koya dofu, that were dried and preserved. Now koya dofu is popular around Japan for its ease of storage and distinct texture.
Yamashiroya, which specializes in dried foods, has been led by four generations of women, starting from 1904. The company began as a wholesale supplier of dried sardines gathered by local fishermen and prospered for decades until the entire business was destroyed in World War II. The next female descendant rebuilt and reestablished the company in 1946, and then passed it on to her talented daughter-in-law. The crops that form the basis of their dried foods are grown by hand, not by machine, and rely on the wisdom and experience of their farmers who put time and effort into cultivating rich soil and the resulting high-quality crops.
Suggested uses:Stovetop directions: In a small saucepan, bring 2¼ cups of water combined with the packet of liquid dashi to a boil. Add the tofu from the package and let it float to the surface. Cover with a lid and simmer over low heat for 12 mins. To add an optional egg topping, pour a beaten egg over the top just before turning off the heat, and bring to a boil. Remove and serve once the egg is cooked. Microwave directions: Put 2⅙ cups of hot water and the liquid dashi into a heatproof container and mix gently. Place the tofu in the container, cover with a lid, and heat for 9 mins at 500W. The koya dofu can also be used to replace a baguette in the Miso and Cream Cheese “Bruschetta” recipe provided.
DISCLAIMER: We provide ingredients and common allergens based on the packaging as a reference only. Please consume with caution based on your own individual health concerns as we cannot guarantee the presence or lack of certain ingredients, allergens and/or animal products.
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