Last Updated on July 8, 2023
If you enjoy Japanese style cold tofu, hiyayakko, try this Vegan Cilantro Lime Cold Tofu! It’s a traditional Japanese cold tofu dish with a touch of Southeast Asian flavor twist.
Cold Tofu (Hiyayakko)
Hiyayakko (the Japanese word for “cold tofu”) is one of a popular side dish in Japanese cooking. Especially in summer, when it’s really hot and humid outside, you wouldn’t really feel like standing right in front of the stove to cook.
Cold tofu can be a side dish along with a main dish served with rice. Or, it can be a great small dish to go along with cold sake or beer in hot summer days!
Cold tofu is one of those dishes that you can use just about any sauce or toppings to make your favorite style. For example, natto (Japanese fermented soy beans) would make a great topping. Cold tofu with umeboshi paste is another one of my favorite way to enjoy the cold tofu!
Vegan Friendly Cold Tofu
Do you know that the typical Japanese cold tofu dishes aren’t’ vegan friendly? They’re often served with bonito flakes or in some cases dashi-based soy sauce made with bonito.
Unlike the traditional Japanese cold tofu, Vegan Cilantro Lime Cold Tofu is vegan friendly!
The toppings are:
- Grated ginger
- Toasted sesame seeds
The sauce is made of:
- Fresh lime juice
- Soy sauce (or tamari)
- Agave syrup
- Toasted sesame oil
What’s also great about this cold tofu dish is you can modify the amount of each ingredient to your taste preferences!
Cilantro & Lime
Culturally speaking, cilantro and lime are not Japanese ingredients. We have some similar citruses to lime, such as sudachi, yuzu, kabosu, etc., but they are hard to find in the U.S. Therefore, I often replace those with lime to give some refreshing citrus taste to my cooking!
Lime juice is tart but fruity and slightly sweet which goes very well with Japanese flavors.
Another non-Japanese element is cilantro. Cilantro may be a common ingredient in Southeast Asian countries but not in Japanese everyday cooking. In fact, the Japanese don’t really eat strong tasting herbs like cilantro. I used to dislike cilantro until recent years. I thought it has such a strong (and strange) smell & taste that I wasn’t really familiar with.
So, does this dish taste like a Japanese dish? Not really because of the cilantro.
But, the cold tofu works very well with fresh and aromatic cilantro with freshly squeezed lime juice! With the addition of aromatic toasted sesame oil, sesame seeds, and ginger, it tastes nothing but truly appetizing!
Choice of Tofu for Vegan Cilantro Lime Cold Tofu
I use firm tofu for this Vegan Cilantro Lime Cold Tofu. I like the slightly firm texture for a satisfying bite. Another option would be silken tofu as how most traditional Japanese cold tofu (hiyayakko) is served.
I also like to serve as a small block. Again, this is how the Japanese serve cold tofu. But if you like to serve more as a bite size, thinly sliced tofu (it may be hard to slice silken tofu) would work well.
Be sure to check out the “Step-by-Step Instructions (w/ Photos)” after the Printable Recipe!
Vegan Cilantro Lime Cold Tofu
- 8 oz firm tofu (or silken tofu) about 1/2 block = 2 servings
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
- 1/2 tsp agave syrup
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1/2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
- Cut the 1/2 block of tofu in another half (1/4 block per person.) Save the remaining tofu in purified water in a container with a lid. Store in the fridge for a later use (see the notes below.)
- Gently squeeze the tofu block to remove the excess water. Place the tofu in a shallow serving bowl. Set it aside.
- Make the sauce. In a small prep bowl, combine lime juice, soy sauce, agave syrup, and toasted sesame oil. Mix well and set aside.
- To serve, pour the sauce over the tofu then top with grated ginger, chopped cilantro, and toasted sesame seeds.
Choice of Tofu
- Either firm tofu or silken tofu would be great for this recipe.
- If using silken tofu, instead of squeezing water out of the tofu in step 2, let it sit for a few minutes (preferably in the fridge to keep it cold) in a serving bowl. Then right before serving, get rid of the excess water that’s collected in the serving bowl.
- You can save the rest of the tofu (the other half of tofu block) in water. To do so, place the tofu in a container with lid, cover with purified water, then keep in the fridge. Make sure to change the water every day and consume within 2-3 days!
- You can also mix the grated ginger into the sauce.
- This is one of those recipes that you can modify the amount of each ingredient to your preference!
- You can slice the tofu thinly instead of serving as a block.
Step-by-Step Instructions (w/ Photos)
1. Cut the 1/2 block of tofu in another half (1/4 block per person.)
Save the remaining tofu in purified water in a container with a lid. Store in the fridge for a later use.
2. Gently squeeze the tofu block to remove the excess water.
Place the tofu in a shallow serving bowl. Set it aside.
3. Make the sauce. In a small prep bowl, combine lime juice, soy sauce, agave syrup, and toasted sesame oil. Mix well and set aside.
4. To serve, pour the sauce over the tofu then top with grated ginger, chopped cilantro, and toasted sesame seeds.
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