Hiyayakko is a traditional Japanese tofu dish that’s very refreshing and simple to make. With toppings such as grated ginger and bonito flakes (or use seasoned nori for a vegan version), this delicate chilled tofu delivers on flavor, and is also beautiful to look at. 

hiyayakko (chilled tofu)

What is Hiyayakko?

Hiyayakko, or yakko-dōfu, is a Japanese cold tofu dish that is served with various toppings. The word hiya means cold, and yakko were the servants of samurai. Those servants wore vests with crests called kuginuki-mon (nail puller crest), with patterns that were square shaped. From there came the expression of cutting something into yakko (cubes).
silken tofu

Best Type of Tofu to Use for Hiyayakko

Since hiyayakko is all about the tofu, I recommend visiting a Japanese grocery store to look for a high quality silken or extra soft tofu. They have a bigger selection of tofu to choose from, plus, they can help you with choosing the best one.

I also recommend using Korean soon tofu, extra soft tofu used to make soondubu, which you can easily find at Korean supermarkets.

Ingredients for Hiyayakko

All of the toppings are optional so choose only the ones you would like to add to your chilled tofu.

  • Tofu: A good high quality silken or extra soft tofu is essential to the success of this dish. If you don’t live near a Japanese or Korean grocer, I recommend using Morinu Silken Tofu, as it’s more delicate than other brands.
  • Scallions: Chopped scallions add sweetness and a lovely refreshing crunch to this traditional Japanese dish.
  • Ginger: If you like a little heat, add some grated ginger. Don’t go crazy though – half a teaspoon or less is plenty to make your tastebuds tingle.
  • Bonito Flakes: Add the bonito flakes last and watch them dance and sway as you pour soy sauce over them.
  • Nori: I love adding seasoned nori to hiyayakko as it adds a toasted and mineral element to the dish.
  • Soy sauce: A drizzle of soy sauce goes a long way here. Adding too much will overwhelm the sweet and milky taste of tofu.

Try Ponzu Instead of Soy Sauce

I personally prefer using ponzu sauce over soy sauce here in the US as I find the taste to be less aggressive and very refreshing.

I say here in the US because there is a large variety of soy sauces available in Japan that sadly cannot be found here. The soy sauce used for hiyayakko in Japan is delicate and sweet and marries beautifully with the delicate flavor of tofu.

Therefore, using something like Kikkoman regular soy sauce may taste too salty for some people, especially those who have tasted hiyayakko in Japan. Using ponzu gives the dish a citrus taste that doesn’t overwhelm the palate. It’s really lovely! Learn how to make ponzu from scratch here.

hiyayakko - Japanese cold tofu

How to Make Hiyayakko

  1. Gather all of your kitchen tools and ingredients.
  2. Start by draining the tofu and leave it on a plate for 15 minutes to let some of the excess water out.
  3. Slice the tofu into four equal blocks and place each one of them in a small shallow bowl.
  4. Top with your favorite toppings, adding the bonito flakes last (if using).
  5. Drizzle a little soy sauce or ponzu sauce and serve.

What to Serve Hiyayako With

This simple chilled tofu is a wonderful accompaniment to a traditional Japanese dinner (yūshoku – “夕食”). As you can see, making Japanese food doesn’t have to be complicated and the best part are all the little side dishes you can quickly whip up and serve with a bowl of rice. Some of my favorites are:

hiyayakko - chilled tofu with toppings
Did you like this Hiyayakko Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!
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Hiyayakko – Chilled Tofu with Toppings

hiyayakko - Japanese cold tofu

Hiyayakko is a traditional Japanese tofu dish that’s very refreshing and simple to make.

  • Author: Caroline Phelps
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: N/A
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4 people 1x
  • Category: Side
  • Method: N/A
  • Cuisine: Japanese
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Scale
  • 12 ounce silken tofu

Toppings

  • 2 tablespoons scallion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, peeled and grated
  • Bonito flakes (katsuobushi) (for vegan: omit this topping)
  • Seasoned nori, cut into thin strips
  • Soy sauce or ponzu sauce

Instructions

  1. Delicately take the tofu out of the package and drain. Transfer the tofu to a plate and leave for 15 minutes to let some of the excess water come out of the tofu.
  2. Slice the tofu into four even blocks and place each one of them in a small shallow bowl.
  3. Top with scallions, ginger, bonito flakes, and nori.
  4. Drizzle a little soy or ponzu (about 1 tablespoon), and serve.

Notes

For leftover tofu, put it in an airtight storage container and fill the container with water. Close with a lid and refrigerate for up to 5-7 days. Change the water daily to make the tofu last longer.

Keywords: soybean, beancurd, otsumami, appetizer

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