Shojin ryori spotlight: Danny Chu
Chef Danny Chu is a Singaporean shojin ryori chef; he left the business world to follow his passion to study and master shojin ryori in Japan. One of a very few foreigners to study shojin ryori with monks in Kyoto, Danny became the first shojin ryori chef in Singapore. He opened his own shojin ryori restaurant Enso Kitchen (http://www.ensokitchen.com/) and has authored two award-winning cookbooks, Shojin Ryori and Living Shojin Ryori (2018). Chef Danny is currently based in Taiwan, where he shares the art of shojin ryori through cooking demonstrations and classes.
Below I am sharing two of Chef Danny’s recipes from his latest book Living Shojin Ryori. Both books are arranged seasonally; here I chose recipes appropriate for any season (koyadofu is shelf-stable and lasts a long time), but the soymilk jelly with strawberry is a perfect choice for spring and the simple unsweetened preparation allows the strawberries to shine.
I recommend purchasing an inexpensive tamagodofu mold (available here ) to make pouring, molding, and cutting your soymilk jelly easier; you can also use the same mold for gomadofu (my previous featured recipe here), vegan fruit jelly, anmitsu, and other dishes.
(Photos and recipes reproduced from Living Shojin Ryori by Danny Chu, published by Marshall Cavendish. Available for sale on Amazon and leading bookstores.)
Koyadofu is dried frozen tofu which was discovered when tofu was found frozen under extreme cold on Mount Koya. When reconstituted with water, it has a spongy texture that absorbs flavour beautifully. It is a highly nutritious ingredient commonly used in Japanese cooking. This simple yet elegant dish has a crispy coating accented with shiso leaves and a spongy interior.
2 pieces dried koyadofu
Vegetable oil for deep frying
200 ml konbu
1 Tbsp Japanese soy sauce
1 tsp mirin
1 tsp sake
4 shiso leaves
Note: You can substitute shiso leaves with other green herbs such as mint or parsley.
Soak koyadofu in warm water for 15 minutes or until soft. Rinse in clean water and gently squeeze out water. Repeat this process 2 or 3 times. Then press out water and cut each koyadofu into 4 blocks. Prepare konbu dashi in a saucepan. Add soy sauce, mirin and sake and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add koyadofu pieces. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
Finely chop shiso leaves. Add chopped shiso to tempura batter and mix well. Gently press out half the liquid from the simmered koyadofu. Coat the koyadofu pieces with tempura batter.
Heat oil and deep fry coated koyadofu until light brown. Remove and drain on absorbent paper. Arrange on 4 individual serving plates. Best eaten while the pieces are hot.
SOYMILK JELLY with STRAWBERRY
3 g kanten powder
300 ml (10 fl oz) soymilk (unsweetened)
Mix kanten powder with 5 tsp soymilk to form a paste.
Heat rest of soymilk in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in the kanten mixture. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
Pluck out the green tops from every strawberry and remove any green or white part. Cut the strawberry into halves lengthwise and arrange them neatly in a 17.5 x 8 x 6-cm (7 x 3 x 21/3-in) metal tray.
Gently pour in the soymilk mixture. Refrigerate for about 1 hour or until the jelly is set.
Cut soymilk jelly into blocks and arrange on 4 individual plates to serve.