Japanese Chilled Tofu Recipe

A classic Japanese summer dish from Andrea Nguyen's Asian Tofu. "People who are passionate about tofu seek out the freshest and treat it simply. A drizzle of high-quality soy sauce, such as the kind you use for top-notch sushi or sashimi, may be all that's needed to make the tofu sing. However, you can embellish the tofu with fresh ginger, green onion, and other garnishes. This is a classic Japanese approach. While you can make this preparation with purchased tofu, you will truly savor tofu's brilliance if it's homemade. This dish is often presented as silken tofu but it can also be prepared with tofu pudding or block tofu pressed to a medium texture."


1 green onion, white and green parts, cut into thin rings
1 lb. silken tofu or medium tofu, or 2 cups tofu pudding, chilled
1 tbsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
High-quality Japanese soy sauce or Japanese seasoned soy concentrate

Optional Garnishes (Choose One or None)
2 tbsp dried bonito flakes (katsuo-bushi)
2 tbsp finely shredded green shiso leaves*
1 full-size sheet toasted nori, briefly held over an open flame to recrisp, and cut into thin, 2″-3″-long strips (use scissors)

* I usually present this tofu dish with two basic garnishes (not including soy sauce). Green shiso (perilla frutescens) is sold at Japanese markets. More robustly flavoured tia to, a shiso relative with green and garnet leaves, is a less pricey stand-in sold at Vietnamese markets.


Step 1: Put the green onion in a small bowl and add water to cover. Set aside for 10 minutes to soak and reduce some of its harshness.

Step 2: Meanwhile, ready the tofu. If using silken tofu, run a knife around the edge of the mold or package and invert onto a plate to unmould. Pour off the excess liquid or use a paper towel to blot it away. If using regular block tofu, drain it on a non-terry dishtowel or double thickness of paper towels placed atop a plate. Cut the silken or block tofu into 1″ cubes or husky 1″-thick dominoes and arrange them in a shallow bowl or individual dishes. If using tofu pudding, scoop up large shards with a metal spoon, putting them into a shallow bowl or individual dishes. Before serving, pour off any whey that gathers.

Step 3: Drain the green onion well, patting it with a paper towel to remove excess water. The most expeditious way to serve the tofu is to simply top it with the green onion, ginger and any optional garnish and drizzle the soy sauce around the edge. Alternatively, present the tofu naked with all the garnishes in separate little dishes and the soy sauce on the side. Let guests choose their own garnishes. Chopsticks are traditionally used to eat this tofu but you may find that a spoon or fork is better for grabbing the tofu and all the other goodies.

See more recipes from Andrea Nguyen.

Reprinted with permission from Andrea Nguyen’s Asian Tofu (2012 Ten Speed Press).