- Main lore areas
All over the prefecture
- Main ingredients used
- History/origin/related events
Taking advantage of its mild year-round climate and abundant water quality, Ibaraki Prefecture has long been a center of agriculture. While the prefecture is famous for such crops as lotus root, green peppers, and burdocks, it also grows locally the soybeans that are used to make natto, Ibaraki Prefecture's signature fermented soybeans. Small soybeans are processed into natto (fermented soybeans) and large soybeans are processed into tofu. One of Ibaraki Prefecture's local dishes using such soybeans is "komo-dofu.
Komodofu" is tofu wrapped in straw wrappings and boiled in salted water, just like natto (fermented soybeans). In addition to Ibaraki Prefecture, it is also made in Fukushima, Gunma, Gifu, and some other prefectures.
Tofu is said to have originated in China during the Han Dynasty, 2,000 years ago, and was later brought to Japan during the Nara Period through Japanese envoys to the Tang Dynasty. What was valued in vegetarian cooking at temples eventually spread among the general public, and by the Edo period, tofu shops were already thriving.
At a time when meat was not easily available, tofu was an important foodstuff from which to obtain protein. However, since tofu did not last long, villagers would bring straw to the store, fill it with tofu, and boil it in a large pot with salt to make this dish, which is said to have been born from the mutual support of the common people.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
In the central part of the prefecture, it has been a popular dish for weddings and funerals. In recent years, however, the availability of straw dough has decreased, so it is less likely to be made at home.
- How to eat
Drain the tofu and place it in the straw wrapper, then roll it in straw to shape it. Boil the tofu in boiling salted water and place the tofu in the straw wrapper. When the tofu becomes firm, remove it from the straw wrapper and let it cool. Finally, slowly simmer the tofu in broth and let it sit overnight before eating. Tofu is usually eaten dipped in soy sauce or vinegared miso paste.
When the tofu is removed from the straw wrapper, the traces of straw create a beautiful pattern, and the slight aroma and color of the straw is transferred to the tofu, giving it a simple flavor that is unique to "komo-dofu".
In addition, when the tofu is packed in straw wrappings, edamame (green soybeans), azuki (red beans), and chopped carrots are added to give the tofu a bright cross-section when it is cut. Because of its ability to soak up flavors, tofu is also used in a variety of other ways, such as marinated in oil or added to tofu with meat.
If you do not have a straw mat, you can use a bamboo mat to make the carrots. When using a makisu, the tofu is first boiled, then rolled up and seasoned as it becomes firm.
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
Ibaraki Prefecture collaborated with Ibaraki University, local high schools, NPOs, etc. to create a pamphlet on "tsuto-dofu". The pamphlet covers everything from the origins of "tsuto-dofu" to recipes with modern twists.
source : Ms. Ichie Nakagawa, Nakagawa Gakuen Culinary Arts College