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Shira Ae - Vegetables with Tofu Dip

This deliciously healthy dip gets its full-bodied flavour from dashi, the secret ingredient of so much Japanese food.

Serves 4


For seasoning

For the Tofu Dip


  1. Drain the tofu, wrap in a paper towel and put a weight on it until the vegetable preparation is complete.
  2. Soak the shiitake in 250ml of cold water for 30 minutes. Retain the soaking water for later.
  3. Soak the hijiki in a little cold water for 10 minutes. Once rehydrated, squeeze out the excess moisture. Again, retain the soaking water.
  4. Bring some water to the boil and cook the konnyaku for 3 minutes.  
  5. Finely chop the carrot, shiitake and konnyaku.
  6. Place all the seasoning ingredients in a pan, then add the soaking water from the shiitake and hijiki. Simmer for 3 minutes then strain the mixture, retaining the vegetable mix and the liquid. Set both aside to cool.
  7. Mix all the tofu dip ingredients together thoroughly, until the texture is smooth.
  8. Next, stir together the seasoning liquid and tofu dip, then add the cooked carrots, hijiki and konnyaku. Serve with cooked edamame beans and flat-leaf parsley as a garnish.


Atsuko's Kitchen

After months of travelling and teaching Japanese cuisine around the world, Atsuko has settled in London to run an authentic Japanese home style cooking course, Atsuko's Kitchen.

Her recipes and techniques come from her mother and grandmother, who were both inspiring cooks and passed on their passion and knowledge to her.

Her sensei (teacher) Mari Fujii taught Atsuko Shojin-Ryori, a Japanese Buddhist temple cuisine using creative methods to make dishes using only vegetable ingredients.

After seeing the world and taking on the different food cultures she came accross, Atsuko has chosen London for teaching Japanese cuisine based on five fundamental traditional seasonings.

"My enthusiasm for food has been even more developed in London, where there are many chances to meet a variety of cultures and learn about their foods. In comparison, Japanese dishes are simple and tasty, yet have become very popular. You can make hundreds of everyday meals with just five basic seasonings: shoyu, mirin, sake, rice vinegar and miso. The only difference is in the technique used when making the dishes."

Miles away from Japan, Atsuko's ambition is to re-create with her students the life and tastes of her mother's kitchen in Kyushu.

As well as teaching, Atsuko also caters regularly for private parties and cafés using her unique style of Japanese cooking.