Cold tofu with crispy Jako, ginger and broccolini 冷や奴のカリカリじゃこブロコリーニ添え

japanese cake
There are so many variations of the toppings and sauces which you can have with a block of cold tofu called “hiya-yakko” 冷や奴*. I posted few examples. We liked this one particularly. I also thought the picture is rather nice and somewhat artistic in the dark background and one tiny eye looking at you from the top of tofu.

The secret is crispy “jako” 雑魚. I sautéed (or almost shallow fried) jako (frozen) in a dark sesame oil for 2-3 minutes on low-medium heat. After they became very crispy and fragrant, I placed them on several layers of paper towel to absorb excess oil. I had blanched broccolini. I cut the florets and thinly sliced the stalk on bias. I dressed the broccolini with Japanese mustard soy sauce (Japanese mustard, sugar and soy sauce). I also added thinly julienned ginger or “hari-shouga” 針ショウガ on the top. I just used undiluted mentsuyu 麺つゆ (x2 concentrate) as a sauce.

Sesame-flavored very crispy jako in contrast to the cold and silky texture of tofu was nice with bright ginger flavor, albeit this is a very “usual” or “mundane” dish. This definitely calls for sake.

(*Digression alert!: “Yakko” or 奴 is a name of the lower class servant – footman equivalent – in a Samurai household in Edo period who often wore a “happi” 法被 coat with a large square design or crest on the back (see image on the left). In Edo period, Tokugawa Shogun 徳川将軍mandated that local lords to come visit and live a part of the year in Edo (present Tokyo) to confirm their allegiance to Shogun. The lord had to travel to Edo in a prescribed slow and elaborate “daimyo” procession or 大名行列, which was very costly by design. Certain numbers of “yakko” were required in the procession among other things. One of the reasons for the mandatory “daimyo” procession was to deplete the local lords’ wealth so that they could not afford to build up military power against Shogun. I read somewhere that the reason for “yakko” wearing the generic square crest instead of specific family crests is that they were often temporarily hired to man the procession to reduce the cost. Although I can not vouch for this, I can imagine that the daimyo gazette classified page often had an entry such as “Have happi coat with square crest. Will travel.” Thus, if you cut any food item into cubes, it is called “yakko ni kiru”  奴に切る or “cut into cubes”. Hiya-yakko is cold -“hiya” means cold- tofu cut into a cube. There, this is more than you ever wanted to know.)

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