|Posted on August 24, 2009 at 3:13 PM|
SHIRA AE is a tofu based dressing that goes well with vegetables and seafood. It is one of my favorite ways to eat tofu since I was a child. My grandmother would sometimes make it just for me. That meant a lot because I had four other siblings and many cousins to compete with. I would help her grind the sesame seeds in the mortar. The grinding of sesame seeds took time but that was okay, we talked stories while we worked.
Traditional Japanese mortar and pestle -suribachi and
The ridged interior of a Japanese mortar works efficiently to grind
sesame seeds and nuts.
This pestle which is made from the branch of a pepper tree
is more than 20 years old.
My grandmother made Shira Ae to dress a variety of vegetables - spinach, green beans, eggplant, taro potatoes, carrots. I still remember the day she suggested making Shira Ae with Taro potatoes. I thought it was a bizzare idea but I loved it. Shira ae is very mild in flavor. It is pureed tofu with a little soy sauce and sugar. You can add ground nuts or roasted sesame seeds and even add a tablespoon of heavy cream, if you want a richer and creamier sauce. Today, I wasn't really thinking about putting any nuts in the sauce but I remembered that I had some fresh trail mix, which I got at the farmers market. Okay, so why not throw a few pieces in to make it a little nutty? I picked out the fresh walnuts and pecans, enough to make a 1/3 cup. The amount of nuts will depend on how nutty you want the sauce to be. I tried this sauce on shimeji mushrooms, broccoli and banana, yes, fruit too.
Broccoli with Walnut and Pecan Tofu Sauce
Strawberries, kiwi, apples, kaki work well but not the citrusy kind. I could be wrong but I think the general rule is to leave out the watery and citrusy fruit because it will make the tofu sauce watery. Don't combine the sauce with the vegetables or fruit until the last minute because that will also make it watery. You can serve fruit with tofu dressing at the end as a dessert.
What's a Banana doing here?
Banana with Walnut and Pecan Sauce - a good dessert
TOFU DRESSING - Shira Ae
1/2 Firm (Mengoshi-type Tofu)
1 Tbls sugar or maple sugar
1 Tsp Light color soy sauce (Usu-kuchi shoyu)
1 tsp white miso (such as Saikyo miso) (optional)
1/3 cup unsalted mixed nuts (roasted, unsalted) - pecan and walnuts * (optional)
1 Tbls heavy cream (optional)
Grind the nuts in a blender or mortar until it is as fine as you can get them to be. You want to extract the oil out of the nut. Aadd the tofu, sugar, heavy cream and soy sauce to the ground nuts and blend well to make a smooth sauce. You can also do the whole thing in the mortar if you have one. It will be more textural. If you want a creamy finish, you can press it through a strainer. That will mean more work though. It's good either way.
BROCCOLI WITH TOFU DRESSING
Make the tofu dressing that contains miso.
Makes 4 servings
1/4 broccoli, cut into florets
Make the Tofu Dressing (See recipe above)
In a medium size saucepan, cook the broccoli with a pinch of salt until its cooked but still firm. Drain. Chill in ice cold water for a couple of minutes. Drain again.
Serve with the Tofu dressing. Either put the sauce on top or serve it on the side like a dip.
You can make the broccoli in advance but do not combine it with the dressing until you are ready to serve.
SHIMEJI MUSHROOMS WITH TOFU DRESSING
Make the tofu dressing that contains the miso.
Makes 4 servings
1 package of shimeji mushrooms, ends removed and mushrooms separated
into small mouth-size bunches
In a medium size saucepan, blanch the mushrooms with a pinch of salt in boiling water for about 10 seconds. The mushrooms should hold their shape after cooking so be careful not to over cook them. Gently drain. Set aside and cool.
Combine with tofu dressing or serve it on top of the mushrooms. Serve immediately.
BANANA WITH TOFU DRESSING
Makes 4 servings
Make Tofu dressing.
Slice the banana into 1/2-inch thick pieces. Each person should get 3-4 pieces.
Combine the pieces with the tofu sauce and serve immediately.
* You can use other seeds and nuts such as walnuts, peanuts and sesame seeds.