Tōfu, a smooth custard-like cake often referred to as “bean curd, ” is a common ingredient in many Japanese dishes. Here it is used to make a rather bland dressing for cooked vegetables. In a Japanese meal, this nicely balances the more intense flavors of braised or pickled foods. The thick white dressing resembles fine-curd cottage cheese in appearance, though its taste is unique. This dressing can be nicely adapted to a Western meal by using it to stuff tomatoes. Thick white dressing will keep for 1–2 days covered in the refrigerator.
Boil the soybean curd in water to cover for 2–3 minutes and then drain it in a cloth-lined colander. Gathering up the edges of the cloth to make a bag, twist and squeeze, to wring out all excess moisture. Mash the soybean curd before seasoning it with the sugar, salt, soy sauce and rice wine listed in the dressing ingredients.
Soak the dried mushrooms in warm water for 15–20 minutes. They will soften and expand to many times their original size. Rinse the softened but slippery mushrooms and pat them dry before slicing into extra fine julienne strips.
Cut the konnyaku into julienne strips and blanch it in boiling water for 1–2 minutes. Drain, and let it cool to room temperature naturally.
Combine the soup stock, sugar and soy sauce in a small saucepan. Over low heat, simmer the carrot, konnyaku and mushrooms in this liquid for about 15 minutes. Drain the vegetables and let them cool before tossing in thick white dressing. Serve at room temperature, or slightly chilled.
© 1986 Elizabeth Andoh. All rights reserved.