Last Updated on June 3, 2023
Iri-Dofu [炒り豆腐] is a home-style Japanese dish made with tofu. It’s sweet from sugar and mirin, but also savory from soy sauce. It is authentically made with eggs but it tastes great without it! It’s technically a Japanese style tofu scramble with a completely different flavor than the typical ones that we think of. Don’t worry, it’s super easy to make! In case you are wondering, “Iri (Iru)” means to fry, and “Dofu (Tofu)” means…yes, tofu.
Japanese Style “Sweet & Savory”
These are the staples to make the sweet & savory Japanese way!
- Soy Sauce
Just have those ingredients above available in your pantry then you can make many Japanese dishes. Believe or not, sake can also add a very subtle sweetness as well. In case you don’t know, mirin is similar to sake but it’s lower in alcohol percentage and sweetened with sugar. It’s a typical ingredients to make teriyaki and it gives a nice shiny finish to it when you cook with a good quality mirin.
Why Sweet & Savory
Many Japanese dishes, whether home-style or restaurant-style, has the flavor combination of sweet & savory. Actually, that typical flavor goes very well with Japanese white rice which is slightly sweet if you chew down in your mouth for awhile. What happens is that the starch from the rice breaks down by the help of digestive enzyme in human saliva and turn into maltose. Japanese children learn this from an experiment in science class. They chew rice in there mouth for about 30 times to find out how the taste of rice changes and why so. That’s how Akiko knows this cool fact! So, to complement the sweetness of the rice, we eat a variety of sweet & savory side dishes. By the way rice is considered “a main dish” in Japan. They make side dishes to complement “the main dish (rice)!”
How To Serve Iri-Dofu
The answer should be clear to you by now! Yes, we would strongly suggest eating Iri-Dofu with Japanese rice (or Japanese-style rice.) Although, this is like a Japanese version of tofu scramble, it just won’t make sense to eat with toast. It has to be a bowl of starchy short grain rice! Or if you are a drinker, it pairs well with sake as well!
Japanese Sweet & Savory Tofu Scramble (Iri-Dofu)
- 1 block (14 drained weight) extra firm tofu
- 1/2 cup finely diced carrot
- 4 shiitake thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp mushroom broth (or water)
- 1/2 tbsp mirin
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Black pepper
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 scallion finely chopped
- Squeeze tofu block lightly to remove excess water. Set aside.
- Heat up a non-stick frying pat at medium high heat. Pour grapeseed oil then add shiitake and carrot. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Use hands to crumble tofu into the size of peas over the pan. Reduce the heat to medium. Keep stirring for 2 minutes.
- Add soy sauce, sugar, mushroom broth (or water), and mirin, then adjust the seasonings with salt and black pepper. Keep stirring for about 3 minutes until the flavors are well blended.
- Lastly, swirl in toasted sesame oil. Give a quick stir and turn off the heat.
- Serve immediately with scallions on top.
- It’s best served with steamed Japanese rice.