Tag Archives: Tofu

Cake with Shrimp and Edamame/Shrimp and Edamame Bread

I have fallen in love with edamame a couple of months ago. These bright green, kidney-shaped young soy beans are the healthiest and one of the most delicious snacks I know. In Japanese edamame (枝豆) means twig bean and it designs not only the beans themselves but the simple snack of boiled edamame, often served in izakaya bars. Young soy beans are also eaten in China and Hawaii, but the Japanese seem to be particularly fond of them.

Apart from their big advantages as a light, rich in protein snack, edamame beans can easily be blended into all sorts of preparations and their lovely green hue embellishes every dish. I love mixing them with rice, stir-fried dishes or putting them in soups. When a couple of days ago I started to look for an original New Year’s Eve snack idea, edamame instantly came to my mind. I decided to make a Japanese version of the French savoury cake I wrote about ten days ago (click here), adding also shrimp, sesame seeds and “moisturising” the cake with silken tofu instead of the usual quark cheese.

I must say I was very pleased with the results of this surprisingly easy experiment. Apart from the beautiful, bright, Spring colours, this French-Japanese cake is moist, light, delicately flavoured and, in spite of being boiled and baked, edamame add a slightly crunchy note. If you still have time to buy edamame and shrimp, this might be a good idea for an original New Year’s Eve appetiser. It will certainly go well with a glass of white wine, champagne,  shochu or sake.

Happy New Year, my dear friends!

Preparation: 1h15

Ingredients (for a 30 cm x 10 cm (about 12 x 4 inches) baking dish or two 4 cm x 30 cm (about 1,6 x 12 inches) dishes):

200 g (7 oz) silken tofu (or 200 g quark cheese/fromage blanc + 125 ml milk (approx. 1/2 cup) )

50 ml oil (approx. 1/5 cup)

250 ml flour (approx. 1 cup)

1 flat tablespoon salt

4 eggs

1 package baking powder  (16 g/ about 0.5 oz)

200 g (7 oz) cooked edamame beans 

200 g (7 oz) cooked and shelled shrimps or prawns, cut into pieces (unless they are very small)

(2 tablespoons sesame seeds)

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Mix the eggs, the tofu (or the cheese+milk), the flour, the baking powder and the oil in a food processor until the batter is smooth (if you use the cheese you don’t need a food processor; a spoon is enough to combine everything). Season with salt. Add the edamame beans and the shrimp. Stir delicately.

Grease a rectangular 30 x 10 cm baking dish or line it with baking paper.

Pour the cake preparation. (Sprinkle with sesame seeds if you like them.)

Bake one hour or until the cake is golden brown. Let it cool down. Serve it sliced and then cut into 2 or 4 bite-sized pieces or, if using as a sandwich alternative, simply cut into slices.

Miso Soup with Shrimp and Tofu

I usually drink only a big coffee for breakfast and don’t start being hungry before 10 am. If I happen to work at home, this is the moment when I have my late breakfast and my absolute favourite meal is miso soup (miso shiru 味噌汁). It is quick, healthy, full of proteins, low in carbs and quick to prepare. In short, a perfect breakfast. However, by soup miso I don’t mean the tiny bowl which is a part of traditional Japanese meals. I have my miso soup in a bigger bowl and the ingredients I add are often more then unorthodox.

For those who have never had or made a miso soup, it is composed of dashi (Japanese stock) and miso (fermented soybean paste). The most popular dashi version seems to be made with dried bonito flakes and konbu (a type of seaweed). It can be bought ready-to-use, but making dashi at home is very easy and in some countries (like in Switzerland) it is simply cheaper. I make my dashi stock every other week, in big batches, and then store it in the fridge, ready to be reheated. For me the biggest advantage of a home-made dashi is the lack of salt (present in instant dashi). It means I can add more of the delicious miso paste or soy sauce when using my stock. (Click here to see Primary and Secondary Dashi recipes.) Apart from the miso soup, dashi is necessary in many Japanese dishes, such as Fish in Barbarian-Style Marinade, Oyakodon or Udon Soup.

Going back to the miso soup, I always make sure it is packed with proteins, which keep my hunger away for much longer than anything rich in carbs. Tofu is the most frequent ingredient I add, but I also like to use leftover cooked vegetables, mushrooms, seafood or meat. Shrimps are among my favourites; I often have them in my freezer and they are very quick to cook. Today, apart from the shrimps, I have also added some of my beloved firm tofu and sprinkled everything with frozen dill, which is not only ideal for shrimps, but, strangely, goes perfectly well with miso soup on its own. If someone had told me a year ago that dill is the ideal seasoning in miso soup, I wouldn’t believe it, but now I keep it chopped and frozen all year especially for my regular shrimp soups.

Preparation: 15 minutes

Ingredients (serves one):

300 ml dashi stock

6 medium cooked shrimps

60 g tofu cut into cubes (I prefer the firm one here)

1/2 teaspoon fresh or frozen chopped dill

1 heaped tablespoon miso

Combine the dashi with miso.

Add the shrimps and the tofu and heat in a small pan, stirring from time to time.

(Do not let it boil!).

When the soup acquires the desired temperature (I prefer it warm, not hot), pour it into a bowl and sprinkle with chopped dill.

Chicken and Shiso Balls

Shiso, or perilla (紫蘇) is a Japanese herb with a fresh, “grassy” aroma and a strong flavour. When I had a chance to taste it for the first time, I have fallen in love instantly and since then have been on a constant search for new ways to use it. Probably the most frequent dish I make with this herb is a Tomato and Shiso Salad, but the real breakthrough was when I discovered how good it tastes combined with chicken in Ume-Shiso Chicken Skewers. It made my realise how good the combination of my beloved chicken and shiso might be.

Naturally, the chicken patties wrapped in shiso leaves I saw on Shizuoka Gourmet’s blog didn’t go unnoticed. First I wanted to copy exactly what I saw in his bento, but then I talked to a Japanese friend of mine (thank you, R.!) who suggested chopping the shiso leaves and incorporating them into the patties. Shiso brings complexity and a fresh note to these simple chicken balls, while soft tofu stops them from drying out. I love serving chicken with sour Japanese ume plum paste (bainiku), but it can be served with any sauce of your choice. Shiso’s flavour is strong enough to stand most of the flavours. I had this dish for lunch and once for dinner, but I can very well imagine it on toothpicks served as a snack.

I haven’t bought ground meat on purpose: I mixed it with garlic, tofu and ginger in a small food processor (the one used for baby food, the same I use to mix cocktails).

Before I pass to the recipe details I cannot stop myself from sharing with you the great news which made me literally jump with joy: I have won a beautiful, high-quality knife in a contest organised by Charles from 5 Euro Food! Actually it was like a wish list gift for me since I have been meaning to buy a serious, good quality knife for ages. Thank you again, Charles, for this wonderful prize!

Preparation: 25 minutes

Ingredients (serves 2):

1 chicken breast (ground or whole if you wish to grind it yourself)

1 cm fresh ginger

1 small garlic clove

salt

about 3 heaped tablespoons chopped shiso

about 3 heaped tablespoons soft (silken) tofu

1-2 tablespoons oil

bainiku (ume paste)

If your meat is already ground, grate or crush the garlic clove and the ginger, chop the shiso, add the tofu and the salt and combine everything in a bowl.

If your meat isn’t ground, cut it in 4-5 pieces and put into a food processor with the remaining ingredients (apart from shiso!). Mix well. Put into a bowl and combine with shiso.

Heat the oil in a pan.

Form the meat mixture into apricot-sized balls, slightly squash them and fry for about 15 minutes.

First fry them with a lid (this will make the balls fry quicker without burning). Then turn to the other side and finish frying, uncovered.

Serve with rice and ume pasteor another sauce/paste of your choice.

Chocolate and Tofu Cake

The name of my cake has probably already put off all those who hate tofu and made sceptical even some tofu fans. I must admit if you look for a rich, flour-less, sticky, fudge-like chocolate cake, click here to see my favourite one and don’t even bother trying today’s recipe. However, if you look for a light, refreshing chocolate dessert you can indulge in without feeling guilty, you should absolutely try it. As a big tofu fan I may be biased, but I think the tofu taste is absolutely imperceptible here.

I risked making this cake the day I wanted to have something in theory impossible, namely a healthy, low-fat, low-calorie and delicious chocolate cake. I think I have met the challenge, of course apart from the chocolate itself, which even though healthy when dark and rich in cocoa, will never be low-fat or low-calorie. The cake is barely sweet (put more sugar if you like very sweet cakes) and its smooth, light texture, somehow reminds one of a lighter cheesecake.

The butter can be omitted, but it adds a certain smoothness. Instant coffee is what I always put in my rich chocolate cake (recipe here) and in this one too. In fact, a small amount of coffee brings out the chocolate taste in a marvellous way without altering the taste. This cake is best when served very cold.

Before passing to the recipe part I would like to thank CG from the Cooking Gallery, who has honoured me with not one, not two, but three blog awards! I am very flattered and proud! Thank you CG!

Special equipment:
food processor or blender (necessary to mix the tofu)

Preparation: 1 hour+ at least 3 hours in the fridge

Ingredients (for a 10×15 cm baking tin for a 4 cm high cake or a smaller one if you want the cake to be thicker):

100 g dark chocolate (the best is 70% cocoa)
250 g silken (soft) tofu, drained
3 eggs
(3 tablespoon butter)
5 tablespoons agave syrup, sugar or any other syrup
(a handful of chopped walnuts)
1 flat tablespoon instant coffee

Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Melt the chocolate and the butter.
Put everything in a food processor and mix thoroughly (it’s important to mix the tofu very well).
Combine with the walnuts.
Line the baking tin with baking paper and pour the cake mixture.
Bake about 40 minutes.
Take the cake out the oven, let it cool down and afterwards keep in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
Serve very cold, straight from the fridge.

Snow Peas Shira-ae (白和え)

When I saw Green Bean Shira – ae recipe at Nami’s blog (Just One Cookbook) I knew I would love the dish. Miso, tofu and sesame seeds are my beloved Japanese cuisine ingredients, and shira-ae (白和え) is a dish of vegetables mixed with these ingredients. How could I resist? Instead of the green beans I used blanched snow peas, now in season, and the result was even better than I thought: delicate and light, but very filling at the same time. A perfect side-dish and maybe even a main dish for vegetarians? Thank you, Nami, for sharing this fabulous recipe!

Shira-ae means more or less “mixed/dressed with white” and belongs to the “aemono “, or “dressed dishes” category, which could be compared to the Western salads or side dishes, since it includes vegetables with a sauce without vinegar. Shira-ae is for me a double discovery: not only is it the first aemono dish I have ever made, but also the first one I have ever tasted. “Sunomono” is another, very close category  including vinegared dishes, but I haven’t explored it yet.

Even though my dish looks different from Nami’s one, I have followed her instructions to the letter, apart from substituting the sugar with mirin. I have also adjusted the amounts to make an individual dish (I am the only tofu fan at home). At the time I prepared it I didn’t have the Japanese mortar (now I do and intend using it very often!), but the Western type of mortar was very efficient in grinding sesame seeds too. You may use also an electric grinder, but the smell gradually created during the process of manual sesame grinding is incredible and worth the tiny effort.

Special equipment:

a mortar or a spice grinder

Preparation: 10 minutes

Ingredients (serves one):

100 g snow peas (trimmed and cut in two)

50 g tofu

2 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds

1 teaspoon miso

1 teaspoon mirin (or sugar)

1 teaspoon soy sauce

Drain the tofu.

Grind the sesame seeds in a Japanese mortar (suribachi), a standard European mortar or in a spice grinder.

Add the remaining ingredients.

Blanch the snow peas.

Put the snow peas in a bowl and combine with all the above ingredients and the crumbled tofu.

Serve warm or cold.