This is one of those dishes that I fell immediately in love with after the first bite despite the somewhat seemingly unsavory appearance of a dark colored dressing on a chunk of white tofu; and I can assure you that if it is your first time, you will be blown away by the unique taste of century egg yolk based gravy over a piece of silky smooth beancurd (tofu). Pitan Tofu, as it is commonly known, is a Japanese style cold dish consisting of cold tofu, drenched with a generous dollop of savory century egg yolk, mirin and soy sauce dressing, topped with flying fish roe (Tobiko) and other garnishes.
For the uninitiated, Pitan, or century eggs, or preserved eggs, originated from China and is made from preserving duck or chick eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime and rice hulls for weeks to months. The yolk eventually becomes a dark greenish-grey color, with a hint of ammonia scent, and the egg white turns into a dark brown translucent jelly with a salty flavor. Like many traditional Chinese delicacies, the Pitan by itself is an acquired taste and is usually served with rice porridge or preserved ginger. Century eggs should be readily available from most Asian grocers. My favorite Asian Market is HMART where I typically find the freshest ingredients at great prices!
Today, I am sharing my recipe of the Japanese style cold tofu with century egg dressing, which I have the dressing perfected in a proportion of condiments that I believe will go down well for any palate, adults and kids alike. Essentially, to balance out the taste and smell of the century egg for the tofu dressing, I blended the yolk with Japanese mirin and light soy sauce. Once you discover how easy it is to prepare this dish, you’d be making this appetizer to go with any suitable main dish.
Pitan Tofu (Cold Tofu with Century Egg Dressing)
- 10oz / 300g soft or silken white tofu
- 2 century eggs (Pitan)
- 1 tsb mirin
- 2 tsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsb flying fish roe (Tobiko)
- Some shreds of spring onions for garnish
- Carefully peel the century eggs by removing the exterior crusty rice husks in clay and the egg shells.
- Cut each egg in 2, and separate the yolks from the dark brown “egg whites”.
- In a small bowl, blend the yolk with mirin, soy sauce and sugar with a fork until it forms a thick consistent fluid. This will be the Pitan dressing.
- Cut and place the tofu onto serving plates or bowls.
- Cut the dark brown “egg whites” into tiny cubes.
- Place a generous dollop of the Pitan dressing on the tofu, and garnishing with spring onions, flying fish roe and cubes of the dark brown “egg whites”.
- Chill, or serve immediately.