Japan Eats

Recipe: Grilled mushroom wafu salad

Shiitake, maitake, shimeji. The perfect ingredients for an autumn-inspired salad

In Japan, mushrooms are considered the flavor of autumn. This easy to prepare salad is seasoned with salt and citrus to emphasize their complex flavor.

Here I used three types of mushrooms common in Japan – shiitake, maitake and shimeji. If you are struggling in your search for maitake or shimeji, experiment with other varieties. Portobello mushrooms, for example, aren’t common in Japan, but should work equally well in this recipe.

Grilled mushrooms wafu salad

Grilled mushrooms wafu salad

Ingredients (serves 2)

100 g of shiitake mushrooms
100 g of maitake mushrooms
100 g of shimeji mushrooms
1 sheet of deep fried tofu pouch
1-2 of citrus juice (kabosu or sudachi are ideal, but you can use limes, lemons, etc.)
1 pinch of salt

Method

Clean the mushrooms with a brush. Next, cut away the stems of the shiitake mushrooms.

Cut away the roots of maitake and the shimeji. Divide them into a little bunches for grilling.

Next, grill the deep fried tofu pouch in a toaster or on a grill until it becomes brown and crispy on the outside, then slice into strips 4 – 5 centimeters in length and 1 centimeter wide.

Now grill the mushrooms for 3 – 4 minutes on a medium to high heat. Once cooked, slice the shiitake into bite-sized pieces and roughly mix the mushrooms with the deep fried tofu pouches.

Plate the mushrooms and season with a pinch of salt. Serve with a slice or two of a citrus fruit such as kabosu.

Recipe: Agedashidofu

Agedashidofu is a traditional Japanese dish which combines the chewy texture of deep-fried tofu with the soft texture of the raw ingredient. Such is agedashidofu’s popularity, its commonly featured on izakaya menus up and down the country.

For this dish, either kinu (silk tofu) or momen (cotton tofu) can be used. I prefer the texture of kinu tofu, but momen will be easier if you’re not used to handling tofu.

Agedashidofu

Agedashidofu

Here sweet green peppers are used to garnish the dish, but chopped asatsuki chives or dried bonito flakes also make an excellent garnish.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 250g tofu
  • 200g daikon (radish)
  • 1 piece ginger
  • 4 tablespoons of cornstarch (katakuriko in Japan)
  • 4-6 sweet green peppers as a garnish

Soup

  • 100ml dashi soup
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin

Method

Wrap the tofu in paper towels and place it on a tray. Allow it to stand for about 30 minutes (or longer if necessary) to eliminate any excess moisture.

Grate the daikon and squeeze gently to drain any excess liquid. Now grate the ginger and remove the stems from the sweet peppers. Poke a few holes in these using a bamboo skewer so that they don’t explode when deep-fried.

Cut the tofu into 4 to 6 pieces, then heat a pan of vegetable oil to 170 degrees Celsius (338 degrees Fahrenheit). The oil should be just deep enough to cover the tofu. Now brush the tofu with a light coating of the corn starch and immediately deep-fry until the pieces have turned light brown. Take them out of the pan and place them on a tray to drain.

Quickly deep-fry the sweet green peppers (10 seconds ought to be enough).

Next, pour the dashi, soy sauce and mirin into a small saucepan and bring (what will be the sauce for the dish) to the boil.

Plate the tofu and pour the sauce around the pieces of tofu. Take care not to pour the sauce directly onto the tofu.

Garnish with the deep-fried green peppers, a tablespoon of grated daikon and a teaspoon of grated ginger.

Restaurant Review: Touan (Kichijoji)

Located on the same street as the Emporio Armani store, this basement izakaya, “Touan”, specializes in decent drinks, tofu, chicken, and sashimi. Several private tables, plus a few that look out onto a cellar-type Japanese garden, provide the perfect backdrop for a romantic dinner or small-scale night out with friends. Jazz music plays in the background.

And Touan has a few dishes that will keep vegetarians happy. Try the dekitate (fresh) tofu, at 780 yen, that comes with seven toppings and can be split amongst four if one thinks in izakaya serving sizes (read: small). The large tofu slabs go well with a side of fried renkon (lotus root) chips (480 yen). The negi shiitake kushi (grilled green onions and mushrooms on a stick) are also worth a try at 200 yen each.

Meat-lovers will enjoy the tebasaki no karaage (fried chicken for 580 yen), and the tofu no gyoza (580 yen for six pieces)–sorry, healthy people, this one almost certainly has meat in it. It’s just too good. But everyone can wind down with a dish of tofu ice cream which is astoundingly tasty (380). Another wise selection is the ebi (shrimp)tenpura and cha (tea) soba (680). The tea flavor is more apparent on the nose than anywhere else. Very nicely done indeed.

The “Naina?” imo shochu at 700 yen a glass, and yuzu umeshu at 620, are excellent choices for herbivores and carnivores alike. The “Hakkaisan” junmai ginjo nihonshu (980) is recommended for those looking for a decent bit of the drink that John Gauntner has taught us so much about.

The drink selection is respectable in several ways. While “Four Roses” is the only whiskey on the menu, Touan steps it up with 14 different bottles of umeshu, 12 potato shochu, six nihonshu, plus wine, beer, kokutou and rice shochu, and cocktails. Draft beer is 580 yen, and wine is 450 per glass. Most alcoholic beverages range from between 450 to 900 yen. Soft drinks are 350.

Directions: JR Kichijoji north exit. Outside the station (looking at the rotary) turn left. You’ll soon pass Baskin Robbins. Go straight until you come to a four-way intersection with a traffic light. Turn right. Walk one block and turn left before Tokyu Department Store. Walk straight (past Banana Republic) and take the second right. Touan is on the left (B1) just before a furniture shop called Kagura. If you reach Emporio Armani, then you’ve gone too far.

Guru Navi Page: http://r.gnavi.co.jp/a045212/

Lunch: 11:30 – 14:00
Dinner: 17:00 – 24:30