Setsubun Shira-ae Soya Bean Recipe

20th February 2017

Setsubun – Celebrate with a Wonderful Shira-Ae Soya Bean Recipe

Setsubun Shira-ae Soya Bean Recipe

Setsubun is celebrated yearly, on February 3rd, and marks the day before the beginning of Spring. This is despite the fact that it’s still cold at this time of year in Japan and is often still snowing!

As well as welcoming in Spring and saying goodbye to Winter, Setsubun is about starting the new year fresh and ridding oneself of past evils.

Power of Soya Beans
Setsubun is also known as the ‘Bean-throwing festival’, as part of the ceremonies involve throwing dried or roasted soya beans out to remove evil spirits and bring in good spirits.
“Oni wa soto!” (get out demons!)
“Fuku wa uchi!” (come in happiness!)
But the beans are not just for throwing, they are also eaten as a snack. Traditionally, people eat one soybean for every year of their age.

Of course, soy beans are a big part of Japanese culture all year round. Most popularly eaten as tofu which is bean curd made from soya milk. Not only are there so many delicious ways to make and eat tofu but it’s so nutritious (excellent source of iron, calcium and protein) plus it’s vegan-friendly.In addition to the recipe below, another of my favourite ways to use tofu is this Tofu Miso Hummus (as featured in the Guardian) which makes the most delicious dip and spread! Thanks to its creamy consistency, you can use it as a dairy-free base for all kinds of things from mayonnaise to Bechamel sauce and you can even make donuts with it.

Shira-ae Recipe 

Tofu sauce with seasonable vegetables
Today‘s recipe is a creamy, rich tofu sauce with seasonal vegetables – this dish is very popular with vegetarian clients and makes a great side dish too.

Serves 4


200-250g Spinach blanched (cut into 3cm pieces) or baby spinach
1 small Carrot
1/4 cup Shitake mushroom dashi ( 3-4 dried shitake mushrooms + 1/2 cup of water)
1/2 tsp Soy sauce
1/2tsp Sugar
Pinch of Salt
Shiraae sauce
200g Firm Tofu
2tsp White miso
3tbs Neri goma/Tahini
1/2tbs Brown sugar
1/2tbs Light soy sauce
Pinch of salt

To make shitake mushroom dashi, put the dried shitake mushrooms into cold water and soak overnight. Or pour hot water over them and infuse for 10-15 minutes. Keep the soaked shitake mushrooms to one side.
Slice the carrots thinly into 0.5cm x 2cm pieces and the shitake mushrooms very thinly. Cook the carrots with the shitake mushrooms, and all ingredients for a few minutes in a small sauce pan.
Blanch the spinach and then drain well, squeezing out all the water.

To make the shira-ae sauce, wrap the tofu with a tea towel or paper towel and place a flat plate or small chopping board on top of it. Leave it for 15 minutes to squeeze out all excess liquid.

Put all the ingredients into a suribachi (Japanese Pestle and Mortar), grind very well until it becomes a smooth sauce.

Add all the cooked vegetables to the sauce and mix together.

Yuki’s tip:
Try using different combinations of vegetables, hijiki seaweed or mushrooms for example.

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