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Recipe: Japanese Tofu Scramble (いり豆腐 Iri Dofu)

August 5, 2022

Iri-dofu, Japanese scrambled Tofu

What dish speaks to you “HOME”?

For me, it’s iri-dofu, Japanese tofu scramble. It’s one of the most typical Japanese home-cooked dish, and you probably won’t see it served much at restaurants (unless it’s more casual “Izakaya” type place.)  With a chopsticks full (?) of this fluffy tofu and tuna mixture with steamed rice, I breathe in the delicate scent of soy sauce, green onion, and sake, and am  immediately transferred back to Tokyo.  This version is a bit different from what I ate growing up with julienned vegetables, but it combines my other childhood favorite of tuna and green onion, and it’s more flavorful and easier than more traditional version. It only uses 4 main ingredients of widely available products (for some people, always on hand), and not much chopping.  If you don’t have sake, use very dry white wine.

Iri-dofu  いり豆腐 (Tofu Scramble)

Ingredients (Serves 2-3 as main dish, 4-6 as side dish)

  • Tofu (Momen, in the US, use medium or medium firm)  1 block (about 400g)
  • Tuna 1 can (6oz 170g), packed in olive oil kind preferred, DO NOT DRAIN OIL
    • If its in water, drain water well, use 2 TBS Olive Oil in step 3.
  • Eggs 2, beaten
  • Green onions, sliced 1/2 c (about 3)
  • Sake, 1 1/2 TBS
  • Soy sauce, 1 1/2 TBS
  • Kosher Salt, pinch (optional.  If not using, increase the amount of soy sauce to 1 ts to 1/2 TBS)


  1. Drain water from tofu in a strainer for 5-10 min.  To make the next step faster, I scramble tofu loosely and put in a microwaveable container with a lid and a plastic strainer to collect water. Microwave for 3-4 minutes on high.   If your container doesn’t have a plastic strainer, create a bridge with two chopsticks, and place whole tofu on top, so that the water will drain.
  2. Heat a pan or skillet with relatively wide bottom and short sides (to allow the water evaporate faster), then scramble the drained tofu with a wooden spoon on high  until water is evaporated.
  3. Add the entire can of tuna with olive oil from the can.  If using the tuna packed in water, add the olive oil to tofu before adding the drained tuna.   Mix well and continue to cook to coat the oil well with tofu.
  4. Add Sake, Soy Sauce and sliced green onions.  Continue to stir so that it will not burn.
  5. Add a pinch of salt in beaten egg, and pour it around the tofu.  Stir the tofu quickly with 4-5 chopsticks until egg gets firmer.  Serve hot.

Note: A note about the microwave:  As many of you know, the more powerful your microwave is, the shorter you need to cook.  Ours rotates, but is a very small one, the type that barely fits a dinner plate. So, if you have a newer, powerful microwave, please start with half of the time suggested, and add time little by little to obtain desired results.


  • Vegetarian version:
    1. Instead of tuna, use 4-5 small dried shiitake mushrooms soaked in water for about 30 minutes to 1 hour. To quicken the process, remove the stems, break it in half, soak in water with a pinch of sugar mixed with right side up, and top it with a small plate so that mushroom will submerged in water.  Microwave for 2 min.  When the shiitake are soft, squeeze the water out, and slice them thinly.  Save the juice for later use since it adds a lot of umami (savory flavor) to many Japanese dishes.
    2. Slice other vegetables such as carrots and snowpeas/green beans (for color and vitamin A and C) thinly and about 1 inch long. The total amount should be about 4 oz.
    3. At step 3, add oil and vegetables instead of tuna.  You may want to add a little more soysauce and some sugar (about 1/2 TBS) to add more flavor.
  • You can also use soaked and squeezed hijiki seaweed with other veggies.
  • For crunchiness, also try gobo (burdock root) or renkon (lotus root).  They oxidise easily, so as you cut, release them in water mixed with a bit of rice or white vinegar.
  • Instead of tuna, try ground chicken (or you can add this to vegetarian version.)
    1. After step 1, heat oil in a pan or skillet, cook ground chicken until well crumbled.  Then add carrots, vegetables and saute briefly.
    2. Add tofu and follow the directions, 2, 4 and 5.

So what’s your favorite home-cooked meal?   I look forward to your comment.  : )

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