Asian Recipes/ Entrees / Appetisers/ Japanese/ Recipes/ Side Dish/ Snack

Yudofu – Japanese Boiled Tofu Recipe

24/11/2020

Yudofu is the easiest Japanese hot pot ever! Perfect as a tasty side dish or snack, this delicious hot tofu is healthy, light and full of flavour.

Pouring tsuyu sauce over the yudofu.

Why We Love This

Yudofu is super simple to make with a handful of classic Japanese ingredients. It’s nourishing, comforting, low in calories yet packed with nutritious flavour. Served as a traditional winter dish, it will warm you up from the inside out!

While tofu doesn’t have a strong flavour on its own, the balance of soy sauce, dashi stock and mirin in the homemade Japanese tsuyu sauce adds big umami flavour. Here’s more amazing tofu recipes and marinade ideas if you’re keen to learn more.

Serve it alongside fluffy sushi rice, homemade Japanese pickles, kinpira gobo (sautéed carrot and burdock) and a nourishing bowl of miso soup and you’ll be feeling happy and healthy in no time.

Hot tofu in a bowl, ready to have the tsuyu sauce poured over.

What is Yudofu? 

Yudofu (湯豆腐) is a simple Japanese hot pot dish consisting of silken tofu simmered in water with kombu seaweed (kelp).

Fun fact: While Yudofu is sometimes referred to as boiled tofu, it’s actually cooked at just below boiling to avoid the bubbles breaking apart the fragile silken tofu pieces!

This traditional winter dish is usually served in a Japanese clay pot called a donabe, which can also be used to cook udon noodle soup.

At Japanese restaurants, the hot simmered tofu is served in the centre of the table just like shabu shabu hot pot, where diners can serve themselves. At home, you can make it in a regular pot and serve out individual portions before adding the sauces and garnishes to your liking. 

The tsuyu sauce served with boiled tofu is similar in flavour to mentsuyu dipping sauce, but you can also enjoy it with other Japanese sauces like ponzu (citrus soy) or goma dare (creamy sesame). It’s similar to the sauce served with agedashi tofu (deep fried tofu).

If you’re looking for the fried hot tofu version, that is called agedashi tofu and made with firm tofu!

What You’ll Need

  • Kombu / Dried Kelp – This adds a light, umami flavour to the tofu while it simmers, and stops the tofu sticking to the pan. It’s usually available at Asian grocers, or you may be able to source it locally depending on where you live. Sub with dashi stock powder and/or a sheet of nori (roasted seaweed usually used to make sushi). Nori won’t add flavour but will still help stop the tofu from sticking.
  • Dashi Stock – Use homemade dashi stock or dashi powder dissolved in hot water to flavour the sauce. It’s available in two main varieties – hon dashi (a more intense flavoured stock made with seaweed and bonito flakes) or kombu dashi (seaweed only stock).
  • Soy Sauce – For the best flavour use a Japanese soy sauce such as Kikkoman which has the perfect balance of flavour and salt. Chinese or Korean soy sauces may be too salty or bitter for this recipe, however Japanese tamari works great as a gluten-free option.
  • Mirin – This is a sweet rice wine for cooking. If you can’t find it at your supermarket, you can omit or add in a 1/2 tsp of sugar instead.
Ingredients laid out to make yudofu.

How to Make Yudofu

  1. Pour the water into a medium saucepan and add the kombu. Allow to soak for 15 minutes. Skip soaking if using a nori sheet.
  2. Place the saucepan over a low-medium heat, and once you see small bubbles start to form on the bottom of the pan (around 5-10 minutes), add the tofu pieces on top of the kombu. Simmer gently for 6-8 minutes. Avoid boiling or the tofu can crumble apart.
  3. Meanwhile, blend together the tamaridashi stock dissolved in water, and mirin into a small bowl and give it a good stir.
  1. When the tofu is ready, use a slotted spoon or spatula to carefully transfer the tofu to small serving bowls.
  2. Gently ladle tsuyu sauce into the dish (for the best presentation, don’t pour it straight over the tofu), then top with spring onionkatsuobushishichimidaikon and/or your other chosen garnishes.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Tofu – Soft tofu can fall apart very easily, especially when taking it out of the container. Avoid taking it out with your fingers, as it will likely break. Instead, first drain the liquid then turn out the tofu onto your palm or a chopping board.
  • Don’t Over-Boil – Avoid letting the tofu come to the boil or it can crumble apart. Simmer slowly to help keep its shape intact.

FAQs

How do I eat yudofu?

Transfer the tofu onto serving plates. Gently ladle the tsuyu sauce into the dish – for the best presentation, don’t pour it straight over the tofu. Then top with your chosen garnishes, such as spring onion, bonito flakes, shichimi, finely grated daikon etc. It’s traditionally eaten with chopsticks, but you can use a spoon if you prefer.

What’s the difference between yudofu and agedashi tofu?

Both dishes consist of tofu served with a subtle, umami-infused sauce known as tsuyu. In yudofu, soft tofu is simmered in hot water with kombu. In agedashi tofu, medium-firm tofu is coated in potato starch and fried, so it has a crispy coating. Both can be served as a side dish or snack.

What can I do with the leftover broth?

The leftover broth is basically vegetarian kombu dashi. You can use it as is, or steep it with bonito flakes to add a little more umami flavour, then use it to make other dashi-based soups like shabu shabu, miso soup or zosui (rice soup). See our homemade dashi recipe for more ideas.

What can I do with the leftover kombu / kelp?

There are so many uses for used kombu so don’t throw it away! Use it to make dashi – whether it’s for awase dashi, niban dashi (a half strength, second cook through of the ingredients), kombu and bonito tsukudani, chop up and top on okonomiyaki or feed it to your chooks!

Variations

  • Sauces – Sub the tsuyu sauce for a drizzle of ponzu (citrus soy), goma dare (creamy sesame), unagi sauce or mentsuyu sauce
  • Garnish Ideas – Try it with spring onions / green onions,  finely sliced gari (pickled ginger), grated or minced ginger, shredded daikon, thin slices of nori or matcha salt
  • Add Spice – Serve with a dab of wasabi paste and shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7 spice mix), or kimchi with a drizzle of sesame oil.
  • Summer Tofu – Skip the simmering and serve the tofu fresh with tsuyu, bonito flakes and spring onion. This cold version is known as hiyayakko.
  • Make it Vegan / Vegetarian – Use vegetarian kombu dashi instead of regular dashi, and omit the bonito flakes. 
  • Add Vegetables – Simmer sliced carrot or wakame in the hot water along with the tofu. 
  • Make it a Meal – Serve with daikon pickles, Japanese salad and miso soup.
Hot tofu in a small bowl.

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★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment & star rating below!

Close up shot of sauce drizzling over the top of hot simmered tofu.

Yudofu – Japanese Boiled Tofu Recipe

Yudofu is the easiest Japanese hot pot ever. In just 5 minutes, you’ll enjoy delicious boiled tofu that’s healthy, light and full of satisfying flavour. Perfect as a tasty side dish or snack.
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Kombu Soaking Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 4 serves
Calories: 61kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $5

Equipment

Ingredients

For the Tofu:

  • 10 g dried kelp / kombu 1 piece, around 10cm / 4 inch square, sub with nori sheet and don't soak
  • 300 g soft tofu also called silken tofu, sliced into 4 pieces

For the Sauce:

For the Garnish:

Instructions

  • Pour the water into a medium saucepan and add the kombu. Allow to soak for 15 minutes. No soaking required if using a nori sheet.
    10 g dried kelp / kombu
  • Place the saucepan over a low-medium heat, and once you see small bubbles start to form on the bottom of the pan (around 5-10 minutes), add the tofu pieces on top of the kombu. Simmer gently for 6-8 minutes. Avoid boiling or the tofu can crumble apart.
    300 g soft tofu
  • Meanwhile, blend together the soy sauce, dashi stock dissolved in water, and mirin into a small bowl and give it a good stir.
    2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp mirin, 1/4 tsp dashi powder
  • When the tofu is ready, use a slotted spoon or spatula to carefully transfer the tofu to small serving bowls.
  • Gently ladle the tsuyu sauce into the dish (for the best presentation, don’t pour it straight over the tofu), then top with spring onion, katsuobushi, shichimi, daikon and/or your other chosen garnishes.
    1-2 spring onion / green onion, 1-2 tbsp bonito flakes / katsuobushi

Video

Recipe Notes

  • Tofu – This recipe calls for soft or silken tofu, but should work fine with firm tofu as well, it will just have a different texture. Soft tofu can fall apart very easily, especially when removing from the plastic container. We recommend draining the liquid first before turning the tofu out into your palm. From here you can slice the tofu into smaller individual blocks while it’s resting on your palm. Please be extra careful with the knife so you don’t cut yourself. You can always place the tofu down on a chopping board to cut it if you’re unsure. Simmer the tofu carefully to help keep its shape intact.
  • Nori Sheet / Kombu Seaweed – Traditionally, the tofu is simmered in water with a slice of kombu seaweed (dried kelp) to add flavour. We place a sheet of nori underneath the tofu to stop it sticking to the pan as it simmers. While nori doesn’t add flavour, it does make it more convenient when taking the boiled tofu out of the pan. If you can’t find either of these nearby, you can buy them online. 
  • Dashi Stock – To keep things simple we use dashi stock powder dissolved in hot water to flavour the sauce. It’s available in two main varieties – hon dashi (a more intense flavoured stock made with bonito flakes) or kombu dashi (seaweed only stock).
  • Tamari / Soy – Tamari is a Japanese soy sauce made without wheat, so it’s naturally gluten free. It has a purer, more balanced, less salty flavour than regular soy sauce, which means it’s also great for dipping your Japanese gyoza dumplings / potstickers.
  • Mirin – This is a sweet rice wine for cooking. If you can’t find it at your supermarket, you can omit or add in a 1/2 tsp of sugar instead. You can sometimes find this in regular supermarkets, otherwise head to your nearest Asian grocer or online.
  • Don’t Over-Boil – Avoid letting the tofu come to the boil or it can crumble apart.
  • Variations:
    • Sauces – Try the tofu with a drizzle of ponzu (citrus soy), goma dare (creamy sesame) or mentsuyu sauce
    • Garnish Ideas – Some traditional tofu garnishes include spring onions / green onions,  finely sliced gari (pickled ginger), ginger paste, shredded daikon, thin slices of nori, wasabi paste or matcha salt
    • Add Spice – For extra flavour, serve with wasabi paste and shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7 spice mix)
    • Add Heat – Serve with finely chopped kimchi and a drizzle of sesame oil.
    • Cooling Summer Tofu – Instead of boiling the tofu, simply slice your fresh tofu into pieces. Garnish with spring onion, katsuoboshi (bonito flakes) and a drizzle of tamari or soy. This cold version is known as hiyayakko.
    • Make it Vegan / Vegetarian – Use vegetarian kombu dashi instead of regular dashi, and omit the katsuoboshi. 
    • Add Vegetables – Simmer carrot or wakame in the hot water along with the tofu. 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Yudofu – Japanese Boiled Tofu Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
61
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
2
g
3
%
Saturated Fat
 
1
g
6
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Cholesterol
 
1
mg
0
%
Sodium
 
575
mg
25
%
Potassium
 
165
mg
5
%
Carbohydrates
 
6
g
2
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
3
g
3
%
Protein
 
5
g
10
%
Vitamin A
 
31
IU
1
%
Vitamin C
 
1
mg
1
%
Calcium
 
28
mg
3
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Yudofu - Japanese Boiled Tofu Recipe

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Natalie
    07/08/2019 at 12:12 am

    5 stars
    This looks so good . And it’s super easy to make with just a few ingredients. I must give this a try. Love tofu.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      16/08/2019 at 3:54 pm

      Absolutely! It’s so fun finding new and exciting ways to cook with tofu. What’s one of your fav tofu recipes?

  • Reply
    Pam
    06/08/2019 at 11:13 pm

    5 stars
    Wow! This recipe was an education for me. But, I do love learning about new foods so this is great! Thank you.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      16/08/2019 at 3:53 pm

      There’s so much to explore in the world of food – hope you enjoy your kitchen adventures!

  • Reply
    Amanda Wren-Grimwood
    06/08/2019 at 9:43 pm

    5 stars
    I am just getting to like tofu so this looks like a great recipe, full of flavour and lots of ideas too!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      16/08/2019 at 3:53 pm

      That’s awesome! Tofu definitely grows on you too – the more you try it, the more you’ll love it!

  • Reply
    Danielle Wolter
    06/08/2019 at 8:11 pm

    5 stars
    So I have this extra tofu in my fridge and I am totally making this. Loving the flavors so much! We order this at Japanese restaurants sometimes and love it!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      16/08/2019 at 3:19 pm

      Perfect! 🙂 If we have a bit leftover, we love chopping it up and popping it in a miso soup or a stir fry!

  • Reply
    Farah
    06/08/2019 at 6:03 pm

    5 stars
    Never would have thought tofu could sound so good! Looks delightful

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      16/08/2019 at 3:18 pm

      Tofu is a crafty little ingredient! Once you start experimenting it just gets better and better. 🙂

  • Reply
    Maki
    12/05/2017 at 8:29 pm

    4 stars
    I was just trying to find recipe of Sanwin Makin (Semorina Cake) and eventually reached out your site.
    Since I am Japanese/ Burmese, brought up in Yangon many years ago.
    Sanwin Makin is the taste of home for me and enjoyed your article with smile (Now Yangon has changed dramatically in these days but what you experienced is of almost my memory !).
    This simple recipe also caught my attention and found slighly strange for me about using Yakinori.
    Yaki(roasted) Nori(seaweed) is not used for soup of this dish because Yakinori is expected to eat with rice etc.-to enjoy its crispy texture but never be boiled. Instead we use a sheet of Konbu seaweed to make tasty stock as you mentioned.
    For the garnish, Ginger paste/ Yakinori cut into strings would be nice option. Korean pickle (Kimchi-cut into small pieces) dizzled with small amount of sesame oil is one of my favourates.
    The dish is made during winter but not in summer.
    In summer we have a cold version, just take out from plastic container and cut into pieces then garnish with what you like and dizzled with tamari source.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      17/05/2017 at 8:32 am

      Hi Maki, thank you so much for taking the time to write to us. We’re so happy to hear our Semolina Cake brought back good memories for you. Thank you for letting us know about the Yakinori as well – unfortunately for us and a lot of our readers it can be very difficult to source konbu – so we use sheet seaweed. In this instance, it wasn’t for flavour for dashi stock but for avoiding the tofu sticking to the bottom of the pan. 🙂

      That’s a fantastic idea for the kimchi on top with sesame oil – we will be trying this next time we make it – thank you!! It’s winter here at the moment, so we’re enjoying the warm meal but we’ll also try your idea for the summer version when the weather warms up.

      Thanks again for stopping by Maki – happy cooking!

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