Season: Niji-kakurete-miezu 虹蔵不見 “Rainbows hide”
Myōtodaki 夫婦炊 (literally, “husband and wife meal”) is a seasonal dish from Chef Satoshi IIDA, the 14th generation head chef of Dōrakurō Wabiya 道楽楼侘屋. This season is between November 22nd and 26th.
“During the season of niji-kakurete-miezu 虹蔵不見 sunny skies are few and we rarely see rainbows because of the cloudy weather.
“Today’s seasonal dish is myōtodaki 夫婦炊, meaning ‘husband and wife’, and indeed, being suggestive of compatibility, the name is a very elegant and appropriate one. The dish is prepared by pairing yaki-tofu [chargrilled tofu] with age-tofu [deep-fried tofu]. But do not be satisfied with buying storemade yaki-tofu and age-tofu: instead, buy locally produced soybeans, add natural nigari [bittern] and our delicious Kyoto water to make your own tofu, and then grill it and deep fry it yourself.
“Although opinions vary about whether it was during the Nara Era (710-794) or later in the Heian Era (794-1185), the method for making tofu from soybeans was transmitted to Japan from China. In 1782, the recipe book “Tofu Hyakuchin” 豆腐百珍(100 Tofu Recipes) was published and proved to be very popular. And since that time, Kyoto tofu has been considered the most delicious tofu in the country.
“Here is how to make myōtodaki: remove the water from the tofu and cut into slices and then divide the slices into two portions. Deep fry one half of the tofu slices in soybean oil that has been heated to 160-170ºC, until the tofu becomes a golden brown, the color of a fox (this deep-fried tofu is often known by the name kitsune, meaning fox). Remove the fried tofu from the oil and place the fried slices in boiling water to get rid of the excess oil. Place the remaining tofu carefully on the grill of a charcoal fire shichirin and grill until it is browned.
“Place the deep-fried and grilled tofu pieces in an earthenware pot. Pour over the tofu some sake and dashi made from katsuobushi, in a ratio of 5 parts dashi to 1 part sake. Then add a small amount of sugar and usukuchi soy sauce, so that the flavor remains quite light, and gently heat through.
“Arrange the tofu and soup in a bowl and sprinkle over some black shichimi pepper. This is a simple but wholesome dish to serve as an everyday hearty meal that reflects the seasonal change to the cold weather.”