Did you know you can use tofu to season your vegetables? Shiraae is most commonly a vegetable and or mix that has been seasoned with tofu plus a few other things like soy sauce, mirin, and miso. This version is an extremely light shiraae that’s full of flavor. And a little on the savory side, just the way I like it! Spinach, carrot, and shirataki noodles are one of my favorite combinations. Have you had anything like this yet?
What is shiraae? 白和えとは
At its most basic, shiraae is made with sesame seeds, soy sauce, and tofu. This forms a rich and creamy base that is nutty, savory, and serves as the base flavor for the vegetables you have in season.
Traditionally a suribachi is used to mash the tofu and mix the seasonings.
But to make it quicker you can just use a food processor.
Or if you’re not keen on a smooth texture you could just mash it in a bowl with a fork also, what ever you prefer!
There are many variations of this dish.
And the best thing about it?
Shiraae is leveraging the natural power and umami of tofu.
What do you put in your shiraae?
The nutritional value tofu provides here really makes this a stand out appetizer that can be somewhat filling.
You could eat this alone with a bowl rice even.
But it’s not something i prefer to do myself, i like to enjoy it just a few bites at a time as part of a larger meal with several smaller dishes.
I’d have to say my favorite ingredients for this dish are reflected in this recipe – julienned carrots, spinach and shirataki noodles.
Why do i like these vegetables with this tofu side dish?
well, they’ve all got unique colors – green from the spinach, orange from the carrot and white or brown from the shirataki noodles and a beautiful pastel or off white cream color from the tofu.
the colors alone make it look tasty, and IT IS tasty
on top of that the flavor and the texture each of those vegetables provides makes the dish interesting.
- the shirataki noodles (also known as miracle noodles, OR ito konnyaku OR yam noodles) are light and chewy
- the spinach adds a unique flavor and depth
- and the carrots add a slight sweetness and crunch
pair those 3 vegetables with the creamy savory tofu seasoning/sauce and you’ve got a wonderfully delicious umami and flavor packed dish!
What else can you put in your shiraae?
So as far as the vegetables for shiraae go, use what’s in season!
And for the shiraae seasonings ?
those might have to be the topics of a few different recipes that i’ll be sharing sometime in the future.
but to give you an idea, if you want to experiment yourself, here’s a few ideas to consider
for the shiraae seasonings –
- you can try adding in shiokoji, shoyukoji, miso paste, kasu (sake lees), different types of soy sauce, different types of dashi, different nuts/seeds, and even fruit like kaki (persimmon) or peppercorns, katsuobushi, ichimi/shichimi, yuzukosho (japanese pepper paste).
for the shiraae vegetables
- consider using cooked kabocha, green beans, asparagus, snow peas, tomato, daikon radish, mizuna greens, okra, goya (bitter melon) aburaage (fried tofu skins), broccoli, konnyaku (similar to shirataki noodles), japanese mushrooms (like shiitake mushrooms, shimeji mushrooms, enoki mushrooms), japanese seaweeds (like wakame, hijiki) or even konbu (kelp) and shiokonbu (salted konbu)
i’d be curious to hear if you’ve used any of the above seasonings or vegetables for your shiraae, lmk in the comments !
once you’ve tried out this shiraae recipe, you’ll understand how it should taste.
and from there imagine what kind of substitutions and changes you might be able to make.
There’s nothing quite like it and if you’re looking to eat more vegetables or plant based sources of food, this tofu side dish checks off both categories.
What do you serve with your shiraae?
Traditionally, you’d be served this on a really small plate as an okazu (side dish).
And when i say small, i mean like 2-3 bites small. That’s how many side dishes are served, just a few bites each when part of a teishoku (set meal) or fine dining meal like kaiseki ryouri for example. see pic below as an example –
If you’re eating this with a traditional meal that would include something like –
- misoshiru (miso soup)
- gohan (rice)
- main (protein like fish or meat)
- 2-4 other okazu (side dishes)
- otsukemono (japanese pickles)
- japanese tea
I used to prefer shiraae cold, but after being impatient and not allowing the vegetables to cool, eating it slightly warm grew on me.
Perhaps, you’ll like it that way also!
And if you’re more of a visual person and wondering how I put this together. Watch the video below! Japanese tofu recipe | Carrot, Spinach, and Shirataki noodles (Shiraae) 🥗
So what do you guys think? will you be giving this a try? have you had anything like it? lmk in the comments!