Miso-Cured Tofu

Yup, this is tofu.

There’s a new tofu in town — but its origins are age-old.

Misozuke is tofu that’s coated in miso, sake and sugar, then allowed to cure for two months.

The result is tofu like you’ve never had before — salty, umami-potent, spreadable like softened butter and as creamy as foie gras.

Vegans also have embraced it as a cheese substitute.

Rau Om misozuke is made by Oanh Nguyen and Dang Vu, two Bay Area entrepreneurs who have biology degrees from MIT and Harvard.

After tasting miso-cured tofu on a trip to Japan, the couple decided to try to replicate it here. It took two years of trial and error to perfect this rather obscure product. They admit they ended up throwing out a lot of tofu in failed experiments. It took finding a mention in a medieval Japanese manuscript — and a chance encounter with a friend who could actually translate medieval Japanese — to figure out just the right technique and recipe.

Nguyen makes it at a commercial kitchen in Belmont after she gets off work at Intuit in Mountain View, where she is a manager of corporate strategy. Vu lends a hand whenever he flies into town from Michigan, where he is completing a Ph.D program in cancer biology.

Recently, the couple sent me a sample to try. The texture is amazing. Whipped with a little rice wine vinegar, olive oil and lemon juice, it made for a punchy salad dressing. Or use it as a dip for crudites.

Misozuke is now sold at the Palo Alto Sunday farmers market on California Avenue, New Leaf Community Markets, the Pasta Shop in Berkeley, Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco and Takahashi Market in San Mateo. You also can order it online.

A 2.5-ounce package is $7.

Bay Area restaurants, including Ippuku in Berkeley, Chotto Izakaya in San Francisco and Izakaya Sozai in San Francisco, also have been featuring it.

Another Unusual Tofu Product: Roast Chicken with Red Fermented Tofu

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