Hiyayakko tofu is a popular Japanese dish made with chilled tofu and toppings. It is usually eaten in the summer. There are two kinds of tofu used in hiyayakko: kinugoshi (silken), which is more frequently used, and the less common momen (cotton).
Toppings vary amongst households and restaurants but the usual combination involves chopped scallions, dried bonito flakes and grated ginger.
The version pictured below is decidedly nontraditional. There are a few differences, chief among them is that it’s vegan.
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1 package silken tofu, chilled
1 medium-size heirloom tomato, chopped
1 scallion, trimmed and finely chopped
2 large sucrine* leaves, shredded
1/2″ piece of ginger root, peeled and shredded (a mandoline works best here)
1/2 cup rice vinegar + 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon mushroom soy sauce**
1 tablespoon mirin***
a pinch of sugar
freshly milled black pepper
For the pickled ginger:
Combine ginger, sugar and 1/2 cup rice vinegar in a glass bowl. Stir. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for two hours or preferably overnight. The ginger can be pickled up to a day in advance. When ready to use, lift out 1 tablespoon pickled ginger with a slotted spoon and mince. Set aside until ready for use.
For the tofu:
Drain the tofu. Slice into bite-size blocks, about 1″ in width.
For the dressing/dipping sauce:
Combine mirin, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, mushroom soy sauce and sesame oil in a small bowl. Stir lightly.
For the tomatoes:
Combine tomatoes, scallions and pickled ginger. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Stir. Prepare this step last prior to assembly. You don’t want the salt to draw out too much of the tomatoes’ liquid.
Place a mound of sucrine in the center of a shallow bowl or soup plate. Arrange tofu atop sucrine. Spoon 1 tablespoon tomato mixture atop tofu. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon dressing atop tofu, then serve at once. Pass the remaining dipping sauce at the table in individual saucers for diners to dip into.
Makes enough for 2 appetizer servings or 1 entrée for a light lunch or dinner.
Time: 30 minutes, including prep.
*Sucrine is an heirloom variety of lettuce. Its flavor is a cross between romaine lettuce and butter lettuce, but with a faint, mineral tang. Substitute iceberg or romaine lettuce if unavailable.
**Available in Chinese specialty-food shops. Substitute regular soy sauce if unavailable.
***Japanese sweet rice wine, used for cooking. Available in some supermarkets or in an Asian specialty-food shop.