This may look like cubes of tofu but this is a type of fish cake called “hanpen” ハンペン. I posted a few items using this. This fish cake is made of white fish meat and egg white and looks snow white. In shizuoka 静岡, “kuro hanpen” or black hanpen is famous in which sardine meat is used and dark colored. Instead of being deep fried, hanpen is usually steamed. As a result, it is soft and very mild in taste.
In the U.S., the best hanpen available is the “Kibun” 紀文 brand which comes frozen (see below).
I happened to have “Wasabi zuke” 山葵漬け which came in a plastic tab frozen (image below left). I am sure it is not as good as the ones available in Japan especially in Shizuoka 静岡 but this has to do in the U.S.. You could just add soy sauce and nibble it as you sip sake or use it as a condiments for cold tofu, “Chikuwa” 竹輪 fish cake or anything else. Since I found hanpen in our freezer (from the New Year’s purchase I am sure), I decided to have this as a drinking snack. I first defrosted it in a microwave oven and then grilled it in a toaster oven to make it plump up and very slightly brown the surface. I cut the hanpen into small cubes (image below right). I then made a mixture of wasabi zuke and soy sauce and dressed the hanpen cubes.
My wife was surprise by the texture since she thought this was tofu. It is a bit spongy in texture but it has a nice gentle taste. The taste was enhanced by the wasabi zuke which has a slight sweetness from the sake lee with a tang from the wasabi plants (stalks and leaves). A simple and good starter dish in a home Izakaya.