It isn’t often that someone tells you they have a craving for tofu, but this week, Greg had just such a craving. Specifically for the Korean specialty Soontofu.
To satisfy this craving, the gentlemen decided to take a field trip to the Los Angeles neighborhood of Korea Town to meet Joy the Baker for lunch at a Soontofu house called “So Kong Dong.”
A hot bowl with silky soft tofu topped with meat (and/or seafood and/or dumplings and/or mushrooms) and boiling hot spicy broth. The diners then crack a raw egg into their bowl and watch it cook into the bubbling broth before their eyes. With rice and a lovely assortment of banchan, it was quite the feast.
This may have satisfied Greg’s tofu craving, but not for long. So he decided to to call on his friend Rachel of the blog La Fuji Mama to come talk tofu and share some of her fresh, homemade tofu with us.
Wait, do you think we are still talking crazy? Tofu = delicious?!? Don’t tune out yet! Tofu has had quite an image problem in the west. Let’s blame it on the 70s… and vegetarians. Ever heard of that book “Diet for a Small Planet”? No? Good. Then you probably haven’t heard of “Future Food” either, a book that tries to sell you on something called “Science Soy Bread.”
Or if you’re like the vegetarian Nathan of the past, you’re making bad tofu stir-fry (but good tofu stir-fry is possible, like Andy’s steamed tofu with black bean sauce, cashews and green beans, or Greg makes Caramel Cooked Tofu).
But if you stop thinking of tofu as a meat replacement and avoid calling it “bean curd” you’ll come to realize that it’s a great food all on it’s own. Especially when it’s made fresh from scratch.
That’s right, Rachel makes tofu from scratch. It’s not as hard as you’d think. There are only three ingredients: water, soy beans and a coagulant. She shows you how on her blog. It turns out it’s not just a “flavorless sponge.”
In addition to the tofu, she also brought along some delicious condiments- specifically ones from Bourbon Barrel Foods: bourbon barrel brewed soy sauce and bourbon barrel smoked black pepper! Whoa was that some delicious soy sauce. We learned that just like tofu, not all soy sauce is created equal.
The Japanese name for chilled tofu with toppings is hiya-yakko. Here pictured is a version that Rachel made for a party at Greg’s house and a version from Mission Chinese Food in San Francisco that Andy had. You can be sure that they are both delicious!
What else can one do with tofu? Why scrambles of course! Andy likes to make “Tofu Chilaquiles” and Rachel tells us of a fabulous tofu scramble featuring bitter melon from the book Asian Tofu by Andrea Nguyen.
If you’re looking for more tofu tips and tricks, look no further than The Book of Tofu, or as Rachel calls it, The Tofu Bible.
And speaking of books, Andy found a great Vintage Volume while browsing the overfilled shelves of a Hollywood bookshop. Taro and the Tofu sells the romance of tofu in Japan through this cool illustrated children’s book! Want to mail us a Vintage Volume? Contact us on the homefries contact page or on twitter.
Craving more talk about Japanese food from Rachel? Check out her podcast Miso Hungry.