There’s the Japanese way with tofu, and then there’s everybody else’s way. In Japan, the soybean curd is so universally appreciated that cooks use it for everyday, off-the-cuff preparations the likes of which most Americans would never dream.
That’s partly because Japanese cooks have access to some of the world’s best tofu: freshly made, sometimes even homemade. But it’s also because they think about tofu differently from the way we do. While we complain about the blandness, they use it to a dish’s advantage. I’ve thought about that ever since meeting cookbook author and lifestyle maven Harumi Kurihara in Tokyo several years ago and first trying her chilled tofu, which she tops with whatever crunchy things are in her refrigerator.