Let’s face it, tofu can be bland, but also quite versatile in any number of Japanese dishes. That’s why I am always looking for innovative ways to make it more tasty and interesting. Used as a foundation for a recipe, it can take on very assertive flavors. Kaminari Dofu (aka Thunder Tofu) is no exception. This is one of my all-time favorite tofu recipes.
It is my adaptation of a recipe from the Edo Period (1603-1868), adapted from a recipe of Kyoiku-shashin-sho’s “Tofu Hyakuchin.” Kaminari (translated as thunder) Dofu is called that because of the PARI PARI sound when you saute tofu in oil, as tofu contains a lot of water. When you make this dish, listen for this!
What is tofu (bean curd) made of?
It is pressed soybean milk and which is then fermented so that they coagulate into curds, similar to cheese. The curds are pressed into molds which are then allowed to drain, encouraging the curds to stick together. It has a high protein content.
There are number of Japanese tofu varieties, based on its level of firmness.
Soft Tofu (Kinudofu):
Soft (or silken) tofu is fresh tofu with a smooth, custard-like consistency.
Regular (Firm) Tofu:
Firm tofu has a much sturdier, drier texture than soft tofu. As a result, it stands up better to cooking. It is available in a number of varieties, ranging from soft to extra firm. Momentofu – The second firmest tofu has a medium consistency. It can also be known as regular, coarse, spongy, cotton, or wool tofu. Yakitofu is lightly grilled and as a result is the firmest.
Deep Fried Tofu (Aburaage and Atsuage):
There are several varieties of deep fried tofu common to Japanese cuisine: Aburaage and Atsuage are the most common.
Freeze Dried Tofu (Koyadofu):
Koyadofu is freeze dried tofu. It has a spongy texture that absorbs whatever sauce, nabe or soup it is placed in.
When I lived in Tokyo, I took a cooking class where we made fresh tofu. I can remember the taste to this day. I’ve noticed that in recent years at many high-end Japanese restaurants here in the States, house made tofu is often offered. Try it! I have loved it every time it has been available. You can often find fresh tofu at Japanese markets as well and well worth the search. Add some freshly made Japanese rice, a bowl of miso soup, and you have a very tasty, easy, quick and delicious meat-free meal!
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Leave a note in the comments section if you make this dish!
- 2 blocks momen (cotton) tofu
- 4 tablespoons Japanese sesame oil
- 4 tablespoons Soy sauce or to taste
- grated Daikon radish to taste, drain off excess water
- 1/2 cup green onions, finely chopped
- Togarashi (dried red pepper) or cayenne pepper to taste
- Wasabi horseradish to taste
Place the tofu between 2 plates and leave for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain off the excess water, and mash the tofu between your fingers. Wrap in a clean towel (or cheesecloth) and firmly press out as much remaining water as you can.
Heat the oil in a wok. Add the unwrapped tofu and stir quickly. Add soy sauce and continue cooking over high heat for a few minutes.
To serve, place the tofu mixture in bowls, topped with grated daikon, sprinkle with green onions and togarashi. Put a dab of wasabi in the center and serve piping hot. You can also serve this family style, in a large bowl.
Have all your ingredients prepped and prepared as this dish needs to be served piping hot.