Key Ingredient


Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Ingredient of the week
Pale green edamame tofu is sweet and soft.


Over the past couple of years, edamame has become all the rage. The fresh soybean pods can be found on appetizer menus of many hip restaurants across the country.

Edamame has also been touted as a healthy snack item, said to reduce everything from hot-flash symptoms in menopausal women to the risk of certain types of cancer.

Locally, the edamame craze has spawned a new product. Kanai Tofu Factory, a tofu manufacturer since the 1920s, has started making a unique, pale-green edamame tofu. It's silky soft, with a slightly sweeter flavor than regular tofu.

The basics: Edamame tofu is a kinugoshi (soft) variety of tofu made from fresh soybean pods. Traditional tofu is made from dried soybeans.

Mark Kaneda of Kanai started experimenting with fresh edamame about a year ago. His first tries proved less than successful, yielding a lumpy texture. However, Kaneda located a Taiwan distributor who could blend and create a fine-grind soybean product for him that worked very well.

After more experimentation, Kaneda finally had a silky soft edamame tofu ready for sale. Unfortunately, the vibrant natural green of the soybean was somewhat lost in the process, so Kaneda says a bit of artificial coloring is added.

Although the tofu is available in only the soft variety, Kaneda says he is working on a firm variety, too. Different coagulants and the amount of whey or liquid extracted from the tofu create the different textures.

Storing: Tofu is highly perishable and should be eaten as soon as purchased. It can, however, be stored in the refrigerator for three to five days. Leftover tofu should be placed in water, with the water changed daily.

Use: Edamame tofu can be used in miso soup or consumed with a dash of shoyu on its own. Kaneda says he sees it being used in tofu salads. The slight green color makes it an appealing addition to fresh salads. The kids will love it.

Where to buy: Edamame tofu is available at Daiei, Times, Star, Foodland and Marukai, with prices ranging from $1.79 to $2.19 for a 16-ounce block. Or purchase tofu directly from Kanai Tofu Factory at 515 Ward Ave., from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

Food Stuffs: Morsels

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