Think you know tofu?
If you think of tofu as a shy and retiring ingredient, get ready to discover its bolder side.
Tofu. You might think you already know everything there is to know about it. It’s straightforward, dependable. Some may even go so far as to call it bland. But there’s a whole other side to tofu that you’ve never experienced. At Ryoji Ramen and Izakaya there are several otsumami, or snacks, that showcase tofu’s diversity.
Looking for a drink to wash down your tofuyo? Also known as “island sake,” awamori is a distilled rice alcohol that’s unique to Okinawa. It makes the perfect accompaniment to this salty dish.
Tofuyo is a fermented tofu dish made by marinating dried, Okinawan-style tofu, or shimadofu, in benikoji. It’s been described as “Japanese blue cheese,” but even if you don’t like blue cheese, don’t worry! Tofuyo actually has an intense miso flavour. That’s because benikoji, like miso, is a fermented product. To make benikoji, rice is fermented using a fungus similar to what’s used with soybeans to make miso, or even what’s used with rice to make sake. Indeed, you can taste a sake-like note in the tofuyo that really gives it a kick! Tofuyo’s strong taste makes it a perfect accompaniment to sake, and it should be nibbled just a tiny bit at a time in between sips. It is said that this distinctive dish was considered a delicacy by Okinawan aristocracy during the Ryukyu dynasty.
With its sweet, mild flavour, ji-ma-mi showcases a whole other side of tofu. Although it resembles a silky tofu in consistency, it’s actually made with peanut milk and sweet potato starch, called imokuzu. In this recipe, which also comes from Okinawa, peanuts are pressed to extract a liquid with concentrated peanut flavour that is then mixed with the imokuzu to make a light, sticky cake. Ryoji’s ji-ma-mi—which comes from one of Ryoji’s sister restaurants, Ashibiuna in Okinawa—is made in-house every day and served with ginger and Ryoji’s original reduced soy sauce. Halfway between sweet and salty, this delicious treat pairs wonderfully with a cold beer or other refreshing drink.
You might have thought that tofu was a bland personality who was all business, but now that you know he has a fun side, you’ll want to make him your new drinking buddy with these two snacks!
Ryoji Ramen & Izakaya
690 College St., Toronto | TEL. 416-533-8083
Mon-Thurs 11:30am-12am | Fri-Sat 11:30am -2am | Sun 11:30am-10:30pm