The simplest vegan dish I’ve ever cooked, this Japanese style simmered bean sprouts, tofu and kombu are seasoned with modified ponzu shoyu — citrus juice is mixed with soy sauce, rice vinegar and rice wine.
The bean sprout and tofu combination is found in dishes across Asia. But how these two are cooked and seasoned vary. In the Philippines, for instance, the first step is sauteing aromatics like ginger, garlic and scallions. In Indonesia and Malaysia, spices are ground to make a paste then sauteed before the bean sprouts and tofu are added. In both cases, the sauteing is meant to create a flavorful base.
But sauteing is not the only way to concentrate and heighten flavors. Reduction is another technique, and it is this technique that is used in making this Japanese style simmered bean sprouts, tofu and kelp. The sauce is boiled until reduced, the tofu and help are thrown in and simmered, the the bean sprouts are added and the simmering continues just until the sprouts and heated through and very lightly softened.
The ingredients are few and the cooking procedure is simple. But you need to have all the right ingredients. Just visit your local Asian grocer or scan the shelves in the Asian section of better groceries.
Kombu is a large seaweed sold in dried form. You need only a small handful because the dried seaweed doubles in volume when soaked in water.
Reduce the ponzu sauce in the pan. This removed much of the alcohol in the rice wine leaving only the richness that you want in your food. Into the reduced ponzu sauce, boil the soaked kombu and fried tofu.
The bean sprouts go in last. They need only a minute or two to cook. Don’t boil for too long. As soon as they soften a bit, turn off the heat.
Based on a recipe from NHK World.
- ¼ cup light soy sauce
- ¼ cup rice wine (sake or mirin)
- a dash of rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
- 100 grams firm tofu, fried and diced
- a small handful of kombu, soaked in hot water until doubled
- about 200 grams mung bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
- Pour the soy sauce, rice wine and vinegar into a pan. Add half a cup of water. Boil until reduced in half.
- Add the kombu and fried tofu. Boil for a minute.
- Add the bean sprouts. Stir. Cook just until softened.
- Turn off the heat. Drizzle in the lemon or lime juice. Toss a few times.
- Serve the simmered bean sprouts, tofu and kombu at once.