Here’s everything you need to know about types of Japanese tofu. Read on to find what type of Japanese tofu is best for the next tofu-base dish you’re planning to try!
Tofu is an essential part of Japanese cuisine and is made using soy beans. There are so many different varieties of tofu available, and they are all used to whip out some amazing dishes that will definitely make you look at tofu in a whole new light.
Tofu is high in protein and so, it is perfect for people who do not eat meat and want to keep a check on their protein intake. Tofu is also quite light and easy on the stomach. And what more? It is extremely easy to prepare.
What is Tofu?
Tofu is made using coagulated soy milk. It is pressed into blocks and is found in different sizes and firmness. You will find all kinds of firmness in tofu – soft, firm, and extra-firm. Each of these tofus is prepared differently and make sure that they add the right punch to the dishes.
Types of Japanese Tofu
#1 — Kinu
The term Kinu, when translated in English, means silk. And it is rightly named so. The first time I tried Kinu, I was amazed by the silky soft texture it had. This type of tofu is not pressed, which accounts for its high water content.
The method of making this type of tofu is different as compared to the hard type of tofu. To make Kinu, the coagulant agent is added to the soy milk when it is still hot. This process results in the smoothness and softness of the tofu.
I love the smooth texture of this tofu, and I also found out that it is extremely easy to prepare. All you need are a few condiments and that is all. You have this delicious delicacy ready to be devoured in no time at all.
Kinu is most commonly served cold. I love adding toppings to enhance the flavors. The common toppings that can be used when serving Kinu are ginger, leak, bonito fish flakes, and soy sauce.
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#2 — Momen
Called ‘Cotton’ in English, Momen is what you would call firm tofu. The density of Momen is thicker than that of Kinu because it is pressed to extract its water content. But this has its own pleasure of eating. I love the slightly coarse texture of Momen. Also, the fact that it is filled with nutrients, especially in comparison to Kinu, makes it a highly desirable option for me.
I love using Momen when I am making a dish that requires me to stir it. In such a case, Kinu cannot be used because of its soft texture. However, Momen can be stirred easily without breaking it into pieces.
I also love making tofu steak with Momen. And when I am in the mood for a fried snack, I simply involve myself in making the delicious deep-fried tofu. It can also be eaten as it is, however, if I wanted my tofu as it is, I generally always prefer Kinu for that.
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#3 — Atsuage
This is a type of tofu that plays with two words – thick and deep-fried. Atsuage is made by deep-frying thick pieces of Momen tofu. I love the result that this brings out. This tofu has a crispy, golden outer crust, but when you bite into it, you will love the soft inner core that it has.
It surely is one of my favorite snacks. It is richer in taste as compared to Momen, probably because it is deep-fried. I love the mixture of crunchiness and softness. I most often use Atsuage tofu in soups and Japanese-style stews. By adding it, it really helps to add some heartiness to the dishes.
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#4 — Aburaage
This is again another deep-fried variety of tofu. The slices of this tofu, however, are thinner than that of Atsuage. Aburaage tofu is also deep-fried for a longer period of time, so what you get is tofu that is almost entirely made up of deep-fried crust.
I love making little pockets out of this tofu and filling them up with different ingredients. It is extremely popular as the pocket for inarizushi. It is an excellent type of sushi that we enjoy during picnics when it is cherry blossom season.
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#5 — Yudofu
Yudofu is tofu in hot water. Confused? I was too when I realized how Yudofu was consumed for the first time. But, believe me, it is absolutely delicious. So, Yudofu is large cubes of tofu that is boiled and served in a simple but savory and delicious soup.
If we look at the traditional method of preparation, the soup for Yudofu is made with kombu seaweed. You get the umami flavor in the soup because of the white powder on the kombu. This flavor blends perfectly with the tofu, making every bite lip-smackingly delicious.
If you want to add some extra flavor to the soup, put in some yuzu, which is a kind of Japanese citrus. You can also add a savory sauce that is made from yuzu or some simple soy sauce.
#6 — Yuba
Yuba, as a word, is a combination of two words – hot water and leaf. This combination of words refers to the process with which this type of tofu is made. To make Yuba, soy milk is boiled until thin layers of skin form on top of the liquid. In English, Yuba is known as tofu skin. It got that name because of the process.
I generally prefer the Japanese way of eating Yuba, which is by rolling it into thick pieces. It can be eaten just like that. You can also use these rolled pieces as an ingredient for a Japanese-style soup known as suimono.
Yuba is also a very essential ingredient of the traditional Buddhist cuisine of Japan, known as shojin ryori. If you are in Japan, you will most likely find Yuba in the Kyoto region. It is because shojin ryori is a very important part of Kyoto’s food culture.
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#7 — Goma-dofu
Sesame tofu, or Goma-dofu, is unlike any other kind of tofu that I have mentioned here. This is the only kind of tofu that you will find that is not made using soybeans. Instead, Goma-dofu is made using sesame seed powder mixed with arrowroot flour.
To make the texture of Goma-dofu smooth, a very difficult process is followed. Before sesame seeds are crushed to form a fine powder, the shell of each seed has to be removed. This is a process that takes an extensive amount of practice and patience. This process was part of the Buddhist monks’ ascetic practices.
You can consume Goma-dofu just as it is, or you can top it off with some simple condiments, which is what I like to do. I also love the nutty flavor of sesame and so I always end up adding a bit of sesame oil to my Goma-dofu to enhance that flavor even more.
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#8 — Koya-dofu
This is a freeze-dried tofu that first came from a famous Buddhist temple on Mt. Koya. This type of tofu is rehydrated and then made in soup stock. The dressing used for this tofu is quite simple. You can simply use soy sauce and sweetened rice wine to enhance the flavor.
I love the spongy texture of this tofu. This texture really makes eating the dish more fun. Because of this texture, this tofu can really absorb any soup or sauce you use with it.
Types of Fried Japanese Tofu
Deep-fried Japanese tofu, known as “age-dofu” or “atsu-age,” is a popular and delicious dish in Japanese cuisine. Tofu, made from soybean curd, takes on a wonderful texture and flavor when deep-fried.
There are several types of deep-fried Japanese tofu, each offering a unique taste and experience. Here are a few common varieties:
Agedashi Tofu (揚げだし豆腐)
Agedashi tofu is perhaps the most well-known deep-fried tofu dish. It involves cubes of tofu that are lightly coated in potato starch or cornstarch and then deep-fried until they become crispy on the outside while maintaining a soft and silky interior.
The fried tofu cubes are served in a savory soy-based broth with toppings like grated daikon radish, green onions, bonito flakes, and ginger.
The broth adds a wonderful umami flavor that complements the delicate taste of the tofu.
Ganmo is a variation of deep-fried tofu where the tofu is combined with other ingredients like vegetables and seasonings before being fried.
The mixture is often shaped into patties or small rounds and then deep-fried until golden and crispy.
Ganmo can include ingredients like carrots, mushrooms, burdock root, and more, which add texture and flavor to the dish.
Aburaage is thinly sliced tofu that is deep-fried until it puffs up and becomes golden and crispy.
It’s commonly used as an ingredient in other dishes, such as inarizushi (sushi rice wrapped in aburaage) and kitsune udon (udon noodles with aburaage and a sweet soy-based broth).
The crispy texture of aburaage contrasts nicely with the softer ingredients it’s paired with.
Karaage Tofu (唐揚げ豆腐)
Karaage tofu is a fusion dish that combines the Japanese technique of karaage (deep-frying marinated meat or vegetables) with tofu.
Tofu is cut into bite-sized pieces, marinated in a flavorful mixture that usually includes soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and sometimes spices, and then deep-fried until crispy and golden brown. The result is tofu with a crispy and flavorful exterior that’s tender on the inside.
Korokke (コロッケ) Tofu
Korokke is a Japanese croquette, typically made with mashed potatoes and ground meat, that’s coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried.
A variation of korokke can include tofu as an ingredient, resulting in a lighter and vegetarian-friendly version. Tofu korokke often includes vegetables and seasonings in the mixture, offering a delightful contrast between the crispy exterior and the soft interior.
Popular Japanese Tofu Dishes
Now that you know all the different types of tofu available, let us see the various tofu dishes that you can enjoy:
This is one of my favorite tofu dishes of all time. I love the amalgamation of flavors in this dish. For Hiyayakko, fresh and chilled tofu is used. It is most often garnished with grated ginger, shaved bonito flakes, and green onion. Soy sauce is used to season the dish.
This is a dish that I love to indulge in during the colder months. Yudofu is a dish with pieces of tofu boiled in a simple but savory soup. Before eating, dip it in soy sauce or lemon-flavored soy sauce for more flavor. I am sure this dish will warm you up when the weather is unfavorable.
I love miso paste; the strong flavor it imparts is truly my favorite. For the miso soup, miso paste is dissolved in dish stock. This is served with a bowl of cooked rice. You can add wakame seaweed, pieces of tofu, and aburaage for a more distinct taste. You can also use countless other ingredients in your miso soup.
Are you a fan of spicy food? If yes, this is the dish you should absolutely try out. Mabodofu is a Japanese adaptation of a popular Szechuan dish. In the dish, you will find tofu in a spicy sauce that is flavored with fermented black beans, minced pork, and red chili. I love the kick the flavors give me. You can easily find this dish at ramen shops and family restaurants.
Different Types of Japanese Tofu: FAQs
What is momen tofu?
Momen tofu is a kind of tofu with a yellowish color, a smooth texture and a very good flavor. It is made by boiling soybeans and adding wheat gluten into the mixture. This kind of tofu is known and loved by many people; it is rich, sweet and smooth in taste. You can enjoy it as a snack, as a side dish or even in your breakfast. Besides, it is also very useful for your health as it is so rich in protein.
What is Japanese tofu?
Tofu is a food made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks. Tofu has a subtle flavor and can be used in savory and sweet dishes. It is often seasoned or marinated to suit the dish. Tofu has many uses in vegetarian cooking, because its texture is smooth, and yet slightly creamy.
Is Japanese tofu different?
With the exception of varieties like koya-dofu (dried bean curd) and yuba (tofu skin), which are unique to Japan, the tofu you can buy at any supermarket in Japan is completely the same as tofu you can buy elsewhere in the world. Tofu is a low-calorie, low-fat, high-protein food. To make tofu, soy milk is coagulated through a process of fermentation and then pressing into blocks of soft white curds. The process is more or less the same everywhere.
Is Japanese tofu better than Chinese tofu?
I have tried tofu from US, Japan, China and Taiwan. My favorite is the tofu from Japan. The Chinese tofu is the softest, but I prefer the Japanese tofu because it has a richer flavor and absorbs seasonings better. It’s generally thicker and drier, which I also like.
Enjoy your tofu!
These were some of the various types of Tofu available. I love each type because they are all so distinctive. I am pretty sure you will enjoy these dishes too.
Erika is the main author of the website. She is obsessed with Japanese products and always looks for an opportunity to share her love for Japanese products with everybody around her! She combined her love for writing, research and testing products to create Best Japanese Products. When she’s not reviewing latest Japanese products, you’ll find her pampering her cats. Erika is the definition of ‘The Crazy Cat Lady’.