Tonyu is soy milk and nabe means hot pot, so here we have a delicious and nutritious, sweet, rounded, and delicate in flavour, soothing winter soup. It is a very popular dish in Japan, often served in ryokan (Japanese inns) or tofu restaurants. This dish is very healthy, with high volumes of isoflavin – chemicals very similar to the hormone estrogen. Isoflavones are connected to a whole host of health issues, with the most prevant being the prevention of many cancers, heart disease, osteoporosis and more.
At the start of the dish when we heat the soy milk, a skin on the top is eventually formed which is called yuba. This is considered a delicacy in Japan, packed with goodness and expensive to buy. If you like tofu, you are sure to like yuba, so give it a taste to reward yourself half way through cooking this dish!
I also used left over meat balls from the renkon hasami yaki.
500ml soy milk
1tsp fish stock
1tsp Asian chicken stock (or 1tsp fish stock)
2tsp soy sauce
3-500g pork slices or chicken thigh
Any vegetables – I like Chinese cabbage, shiitake or enoki mushrooms, carrots, leeks, shallots, tofu
Ponzu (citrus soy sauce)
1 packet abura age (fried tofu)
Heat the soy milk gently and remove the skin that will form on top – this is the yuba, and should be eaten as if it is sashimi – with soy sauce and wasabi. If you’re not a fan of tofu, you probably won’t like the yuba so just throw it away!
In another pot, heat up the 500ml water, 1tsp fish stock, 1tsp sake, pinch of salt, 1tsp Asian chicken stock (or 2tsp fish stock) and 2tsp soy sauce and add to the soy milk. This is your soup completed To prepare the abura age (fried tofu), place them in a sieve and pour boiling water over them to remove any excess oil. Then cut into slices.
Prepare all your vegetables and meat, then place the soup into a frying pan. Ideally you’ll have a table top gas stove, but if you don’t, you have to simmer the soup in your kitchen and add all the ingredients there. I like to simmer the veggies first, then add the meat which should be quicker to cook. When you’re ready to eat, take the meat and vegetables out with your chopsticks and dip into a separate dipping bowl full of the ponzu and devour! If the ponzu flavour is too strong for you, add some of the soup to it to dilute. If you don’t have ponzu, just have the soup as is.
When you have eaten all the meat and veggies, we normally add fresh udon at the end. Whether your udon is dried or fresh, cook it first in water then add it to the soup. The udon will soak up all the flavours and nutrients left in the soup and will be absolutely delicious eaten with the remaining ponzu/soup in your dipping bowl. It’s a great way to end an amazing dish! Have fun