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Image provided by: “Akita Local Taste and History” (Akita Prefectural Rural Life Research Group Council)
- Main lore areas
Daisen City, Yokote City
- Main ingredients used
Tofu, sugar, eggs, potato starch
- History/origin/related events
”Tofu Castella” is a confectionery made by taking tofu that has been squeezed and had the water drained from it, mixing it with sugar and eggs, and baking it in to the shape of a “castella” sponge cake. As a tofu dish that has been handed down in the southern region of Akita Prefecture, it has long been eaten as a side dish at ceremonial occasions, as a snack, or as an accompaniment to tea.
While the standard castella is famous in Nagasaki, it was originally based on so-called “nanban” confectionery introduced from Portugal, and developed through a recipe unique to Japan. During the Edo period, Akita Prefecture was a prosperous trading center on the Sea of Japan. It was an environment to which the latest fashions from Osaka and Hokuriku easily made their way. However, since sugar and eggs were expensive for the common people, and since tofu was a precious ingredient, it is said that they first made Tofu Castella to eat only on special occasions.
It is a confectionery that is characterized by its unique, moist texture that retains the flavor of tofu.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
Since, after the war, the ingredients for castella – namely eggs, sugar, flour and soybeans (tofu) were all expensive, Tofu Castella was eaten on special occasions such as New Year’s Day, rice planting ceremonies, weddings, and funerals.
- How to eat
Put the tofu in a warmed bag, squeeze and strain it. Add sugar, egg whites, potato starch and salt. Knead the mixture until it is smooth, then place it in a cooking pan called a “castella pan” before baking it. Although it is commonly eaten as a snack or as an accompaniment to tea, in Akita, it is also popular as a snack, and is sometimes eaten in the same way as sashimi, with wasabi and soy sauce. Since Tofu Castella is baked using a lot of sugar, it lasts relatively long, even though it contains tofu. Today, many variations have seen the light of day, including ones containing walnuts and raisins.
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
(Outline of the traditions, the preservation society, social media use, modern approaches at commercialization)
Activities are carried out to hand down this culinary tradition, including actually making Tofu Castella at JA and in various elementary schools.
In addition, Daisen City’s “Tsujiya Confectionery” and “Sato Foods”, along with Yokote City’s “Fujikura Foods” are passing on the traditional taste.