All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Asupara no shiraae / asparagus with tofu sesame dressing

Juicy asparagus dressed in slightly salty tofu dressing with ground sesame seeds. Another great little side dish that allows you to enjoy asparagus in season.


3 thick or 4-5 skinny asparagus
Pinch salt (to blanch asparagus; not in photo)

For shiraae tofu dressing
1/16-1/8 (approx. 4 cm x 4 cm x 2 cm) tofu (soft or firm)
2 tsp toasted white sesame seeds
1/2 tsp mirin
1/2 tsp (+ 1/4 tsp) usukuchi soy sauce


Cut asparagus into 3-4 cm.

Bring water to boil, add pinch salt, and blanch for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Drain, and let cool.


Prepare dressing. In a suribachi mortar, grind sesame seeds.

Add tofu, mash, and mix well with sesame seeds.

Add mirin and usukuchi soy sauce (less than the amount specified at first), and mix well.

Taste, and add more usukuchi soy sauce if necessary.


When asparagus cools, put in tofu dressing, and mix.

  • Either soft or firm tofu works well.
  • Tahini, peanuts, peanut butter, walnuts and other nuts  can substitute for toasted sesame seeds. If sweetened peanut butter is used, skip any sweet ingredient. If nuts are used, peel skin (especially if dark) to prevent an overly bitter taste in the dressing.
  • Shiraae is cooked vegetables or other ingredients (sometimes uncooked) dressed with tofu-based dressing. Shira comes from shiro [white], which implies tofu. Ae is the same word as in gomaae (dishes dressed with goma [sesame] dressing), and it means to dress main ingredients. Other typical ingredients for shiraae dressing include sugar and salt. In other words, tofu, something sweet (sugar, mirin), something salty (soy sauce, salt) and also usually something rich (sesame seeds, sesame paste or nuts) are common components. 

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