BitterSweet

Sweet Musings with a Bitterly Sharp Wit

Soya with Aloha

15 Comments

Commonly regarded as merely a casual greeting, “Aloha” takes on an entirely different tone when spoken in Hawaii. The Aloha Spirit goes much deeper than surface pleasantries, and isn’t something that can be faked. It has to do with honesty, patience, and sharing, just for starters, which is why I can think of no company more aptly named than Aloha Tofu. Churning out soybean curds since 1950, the operation has always been a family business, focused on using high-quality ingredients while keeping the process as simple as possible. No added preservatives mean that none of the products are exported, meaning that they will always be solely local treasures. Luckily, these gems are easy to plunder, found in any grocery store worth its square footage on the island and of course, directly from their factory in Kalihi.

That’s where I met up with some of the most stunningly kind tofu-tamers imaginable. Although I happened to pick the one weekday where no production was actively taking place, they generously showed me around the storage room and gave me a good lay of the land. After refusing to take my money, I was loaded up with an embarrassment of soybean riches and sent back on my merry way.

Don’t let the brand name fool you- They make much more than just bean curd cakes in that unassuming downtown factory. In addition to okara, soymilk, and konnyaku, their natto could be considered something of a game changer, since almost all commercial varieties are frustratingly pre-seasoned with bonito dashi. Long ago I had given up on enjoying this admittedly polarizing pleasure, but Aloha Tofu’s delightfully slimy little number is 100% vegan, through and through. For the uninitiated, it’s generally a love or hate experience, with little space for ambiguity, although one of the best ways to ease into natto appreciation is with the aid of piping hot miso soup. The warm broth helps dissolve the stringy stickiness, while the miso paste pairs harmoniously with the funky, fermented whole soybean flavor. Even if you’ve found it hard to swallow before, a better brand can make all the difference in the world.

The classic dish recommended by the tofu masters themselves, however, is tofu poke. Their rendition adheres very closely to the traditional fish-based formula, substituting fried tofu cubes for the raw fish; a move that should appease those who can appreciate tofu well enough, but not so much that they care to eat it raw. The finished dish is sold in their brand new eatery, but since I didn’t have a chance to scope out that scene as well, I’m grateful that the full recipe is published on their website. No strings attached, no gimmicks or marketing ploys; just the desire to share their tofu and new ways to enjoy it. Now that’s the Aloha Spirit in action.

Tofu Poke
Recipe Ever So Slightly Adapted from Aloha Tofu

1 (12-Ounce Package) Deep Fried Tofu, Cut into Bite-Sized Cubes
1 Tomato, Diced
1/4 Cup Coarsely Chopped Ogo Limu*
1 – 2 Scallions, Chopped
1/4 Cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Toasted Sesame Oil
2 Teaspoons Toasted Sesame Seeds
1 Teaspoon Finely Minced Fresh Ginger
Pinch Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, to Taste

*Substitute with cooked hijiki if unavailable.

Like some of the best dishes, this one couldn’t be simpler to prepare. There’s no big secret here; simply toss the tofu, all of the chopped vegetables, and seasonings together in a large bowl to thoroughly distribute all of the ingredients and coat them with the marinade. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving, or up to a day. Enjoy cold.

Makes 4 – 6 Side Dish Servings

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah (BitterSweet)

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

15 thoughts on “Soya with Aloha

  1. This tofu dish looks so tasty, a perfect side or a meal in its own right :D
    Beautiful!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  2. I came across your blog recently (after I bought “My Sweet Vegan”) and read back all the way to 2006! I’ve made countless of your recipes and bookmarked countless others…thanks for braindumping on the interwebs! Oh, and I’m going to Honolulu in 4 weeks, so keep in the info coming :) I’m definitely hitting up this place!

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    • My goodness, it absolutely warms my heart and encourages me immensely to hear that! Thank you so much for your comment. Sometimes it feels like the older content gets completely forgotten, going to waste on the vast expanse of the interweb out there, so I’m thrilled to hear that you’re enjoying it to the fullest. Feel free to ask if you have specific questions about Honolulu, and I hope you’ll stay tuned for the newer posts, too!

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  3. How kind of these tofu makers! I love soft tofu, they are one of my favorite childhood staples, they are very good in soups and rice on its own with something spicy.

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  4. What a delicious looking tofu bowl, love that you brought some fishy flavors to the dish. I grew up in a seafood-centric family surrounded by all kinds of seaweed, fish, oysters and mussels.

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  5. When you find small businesses with incredible work ethic and a great ethos like this one, you want to share it with the world. This company deserves to be well known and to sell out of their product on a regular basis. Supporting small companies that make excellent product is the least we can do to keep these exemplary products going strong into the future. Never tasted natto but would love to one day. Might have to go to Hawaii to do so but whatchagonnadoeh? ;).

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  6. What a sweet company to take time out to show you round and send you off with many tofu goodies! I’m a confirmed natto-phobe, but I like the look of the poke a great deal!

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  7. What an awesome company, I’ll have to be sure to visit when I make it over to Hawaii. The soup sounds like the perfect way for me to try natto again as it was the stringiness that I couldn’t handle last time. The Tofu Poke recipe sounds wonderful too and it’ll definitely be something I whip up once I’m in my van this summer.

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  8. This looks amazing! I love tofu.

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  9. Thank you, for this tasty & super easy recipe using Tofu, which tops my list of vegan sources of protein:
    1. Providing a complete range of amino acids,
    2. Super low on fat as compared to its diary alternatives
    3. Provides loads of Calcium & magnesium

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  10. What a great local find! I’ve been trying to shop more at the small regional tofu places. I haven’t tried natto yet but I wouldn’t mind a big bowl of that tofu poke. :-)

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  11. That is so cool you got to check out their factory and they sound like such kind and wonderful people! It’s so nice to find companies like that :)

    And this soup looks delicious- perfect for the dumping of snow we got here!

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  12. What aft cool company to show you around & to give you plenty! this soup with the tofu looks so good!
    A BIG YUM!

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  13. This is definitely a recipe which I will prepare for my family. Tofu and ginger? This combination never struck me, but by thinking right now about it, I realize that it can work. It can create a wonderful combination, especially when you add Miso at the end. I will ask my friends in Eternal Abundance about it, if they have any special comment regarding this combination.

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  14. I love your site and this recipe for soya is great.

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