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Thursday, March 24, 2011


Tonight was another Japanese food night. It is funny how, as I have gotten older, these foods have become more of a part of my diet and how much more comforting they have become. I do not consider myself Japanese, I have very little connection to the land of my ancestors, yet the flavors and aromas still feel good to me. This was a standard of my family life when I was a kid, my mom and dad loved this dish. Butadofu literally means 'pork tofu'. And like many dishes, it really does look more like a home dish than something you would get at a restaurant. Here it is, donburi-style, as it should be.
I started off with the main ingredients, shiro miso, ground pork, tofu (in this case firm tofu) and green onions.  Now, my mom made this with both shiromiso (white or light fermented bean paste)  and akamiso (red or dark fermented bean paste) for more depth of flavor, as it happens, I did not have any akamiso. So be it.
The green onions were prepared by separating the white and green parts and chopping for use. The tofu, again, firm this time, was crumbled. I chose firm as I was able to get some fresh firm tofu. My preference would have been silken tofu, but, the stuff at the store was not visible in the package.  I don't like to buy tofu I can't see first. Anyways, here are the aromatics, some garlic finely chopped and some ginger finely minced, the cup holds 2 tablespoons each of Red Boat fish sauce and tamari along with 1 teaspoon cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of Lucky Dog hot sauce.
The pork was sauteed in a little bit of oil, then the aromatics were added and heated until the mixture was translucent and aromatic, then the sauce was added and cooked until color showed.  Then I added 1/2 cup of the miso along with 1/2 cup of water to create a sauce. The green onion was added at the last minute to layer even more flavor. This was served as soon as the green onions wilted and darkened.
I continue to be amazed how much my palate and sense really enjoys this kind of cooking, the aromas and flavors of our childhood can have such an impact on us, we revisit these tastes and aromas and find a connection to who we are, even as we think we have moved too far down the road to remember. I get a lot of kidding about the tofu from my BBQ friends, but, I continue to understand the role that food plays, and for me, tofu on the plate, it is like the smell of roses and wet concrete, it reminds me of home, a home long gone but, as close as a bite and sniff.


  1. That looks bone-warming delicious. The Chinese have a very similar dish, and a throwback to my childhood, called Ma-Po Tofu also made with fermented bean pastes. I often make it spicy and numbing with chili paste and szechuan peppercorns. What a perfect dish for this stormy and cold weather.

  2. Well, actually, it is the same dish (by that I mean it literally is the same) except I did not have the chili paste or Szechuan peppercorns.