Tofu is a white and soft bean curd made from soy beans. In Japan, soy beans are called the meat from the field, which is high in protein, and is considered a healthy food. It is made by using soy milk which is coagulated with bittern. The taste is bland, and it can be eaten raw or cooked. Tofu served as raw is called “hiyayakko.”
In Kamakura period (1185-1333), tofu started to become popular among the common people, and in the Muromachi period (1336-1573), it was spread all over Japan. However, in the beginning of Edo period (1603-1867), farmers were lower class than samurai, and they were not allowed to eat it because it was considered a luxurious food.
There are basically two kinds of tofu. One is “kinugoshi” which is one with whey, and the texture is soft and smooth. The other is “momen” which is a regular one, and the texture is more solid and coarse.
In Japan, tofu is used in many different cuisines. The easiest dish to cook is “yu-dofu,” which the tofu is boiled in hot water with kelp. When it is took out of the pot, it is dipped in a source such as soy source or citrus based source. It is often put in miso soup too.
There are also cuisines such as “tofu-hamburger,” and “sukiyaki.” “Tofu-hamburger” mixes tofu with ground meat, but sometimes only uses tofu, starch, and flour. “Sukiyaki” simmers tofu with other ingredients such as sliced meat, mushrooms, and Chinese cabbage.
Tofu is sometimes sold in a unique way. On the street, peddler uses a horn to let the people know that tofu is being sold near them, and people buy it from the peddler.