Hiyayakko or Japanese Cold Tofu is a perfect appetizer or side dish that you can whip up instantly! You’ll love how smooth and silky it tastes. For many fun variations, feel free to switch up the toppings. Serve the tofu on a hot summer day and enjoy it with a cold beer.
Hiyayakko (冷奴) is Japanese cold tofu that is served as an appetizer or side dish. The smooth silky and creamy texture of the tofu helps to cool the body and makes a delightful respite on a sweltering day. It’s a popular dish to serve in the summertime along with Edamame. I remember my grandpa always started his summer meal with a glass of cold beer next to these two dishes.
How to Enjoy Hiyayakko
To make Hiyayakko, we use silken tofu which has a creamier and velvety texture compared to regular tofu. Silken tofu also contains a lot more liquid, so you need to drain the tofu for 10-15 minutes prior to serving. Before you bring it to the table, have a quick check at the dish. If you see any water being released from the tofu, gently tilt the serving plate and discard the water.
We usually top the chilled tofu with katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), green onions, and grated ginger. For a vegan or vegetarian version, you can definitely skip katsuobushi and top with tomatoes or other vegetables.
Right before you eat, you would drizzle a little bit of soy sauce, Ponzu, or Mentsuyu (noodle soup base) over the tofu.
Have Fun With Various Toppings!
Hiyayakko is very versatile and you can be creative with the toppings and seasonings. As the chilled tofu is mild in taste, it complements an amazing range of flavors and textures. A touch of sweet, salty, tangy or spiciness can add so much zing to a simple dish. I also like putting Kimchi on my Hiyayakko too. It’s simple and quick – another delicious tofu recipe to add to your arsenal!
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Hiyayakko (Japanese Cold Tofu)
- 14 oz soft/silken tofu (kinugoshi dofu) (1 pack, chilled)
- ¼ cup katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) (4 Tbsp; skip for vegan/vegetarian)
- 1 green onion/scallion (thinly sliced)
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce (you can also use ponzu or mentsuyu (noodle soup base) as well, but they are not vegan/vegetarian)
Hiyayakko Topping Ideas
- shiso leaves (perilla/ooba) (julienned)
- Black Forest ham (chopped)
- tomatoes (chopped)
- Japanese or Persian cucumbers (sliced)
- dried wakame seaweed (rehydrated)
- frozen or canned corn
- shirasu (boiled salted baby anchovies)
- plum paste
- toasted white and black sesame seeds
- Japanese karashi hot mustard
- yuzu kosho (Japanese citrus chili paste)
- Drain the tofu for 10-15 minutes by wrapping a paper towel around or placing the tofu on a flat bamboo sieve over a plate. You do not need to press the tofu in this recipe as you want to retain some moisture in the tofu. Be gentle when handling since silken (soft) tofu is very fragile. Once the excess liquid is drained, cut it into 4-6 pieces.
- Put each piece of tofu on a serving dish. Top the tofu with your favorite toppings. Before you bring it to the table, have a quick check at the dish. If you see any water being released from the tofu, gently tilt the plate and discard the water.
- Drizzle soy sauce or other sauce of your choice right before you enjoy.
- You can keep the leftover tofu in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for a day.
Update: This post was originally published on August 17, 2019. The photos and recipe were updated in November 2013. The content was updated in September 2019.