Soy Products

This section is about soy products like tofu, yuba, okara, tempeh, natto, tofu pouches for inari zushi, and soy pudding. Information about soy milk can be found in the Soy, Almond, & Other Non-Dairy Milks section. Information about soy meat can be found in the Meat Substitutes section.

TOFU

Tofu really is everywhere in Japan, and there are many different types available. They include:

– Thick deep fried tofu (厚揚げ – Atsuage)
– Deep fried tofu (油揚げ – Aburaage)
– Grilled tofu (焼き豆腐 – Yakidōfu)
– Fried tofu fritter (がんもどき / 雁擬き – Ganmodoki) (just check for egg)

Atsuage textAburaage_by_Chidorian textYakidofu textGanmodoki

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course there is also regular firm tofu (木綿豆腐 / もめんどうふ – momendōfu, meaning “cotton tofu”) and soft/silken tofu (絹ごし豆腐 / 絹漉し豆腐 / きぬごし豆腐 / きぬごしどうふ – kinugoshidōfu, meaning “silk tofu”).

Although it may be difficult to find, “island tofu/島豆腐 – shimadōfu” from Okinawa has been reported to be firmer than regular firm tofu.

There are also some sweetened and flavored types of dessert tofu.

While tofu is abundant in Japan, it can be difficult to identify tofu that is calcium set or calcium fortified. The product packaging usually has no nutritional information (such as calcium content) and may also contain very little information about the material used as a coagulant. Below are some examples of this.

Machida Shokuhin Yaki Tofu/町田食品焼とうふ. Ingredients: Soybeans (non-genetically modified), coagulant.

Tofu 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The source of the glycerine fatty acid esters in the following product is not known.

Aoki Yaki Tofu/青木のやきとうふ. Ingredients: Whole soybeans, tofu coagulant, anti-foaming agent (glycerine fatty acid esters).

Aoki Yaki Tofu

 

 

 

 

 

 

For tofu packaging that does contain more information, it can be useful to look for the following words:

Coagulant – 凝固剤 (Gyōko-zai)
Calcium sulphate – 硫酸カルシウム (Ryūsan karushiumu)
Calcium carbonate – 炭酸カルシウム (Tansan karushiumu)
Magnesium chloride – 塩化マグネシウム (Enka maguneshiumu) / Nigari – にがり

Below are some examples of tofu containing these ingredients.  The calcium levels are still not known.

Sato no Yuki Jūten Silken Tofu/さとの雪 充てんとうふ、きぬ. Ingredients: Soybeans (non-genetically modified), coagulant (magnesium chloride (nigari)).

Juuten Silken Tofu

 

 

 

 

 

 

Namaage is a thicker version of aburaage. Here are a few examples of namaage products.

Hinode Kokusan Kinunamaage/日の出 絹なまあげ. Ingredients: Soybeans (domestic, not genetically modified), edible vegetable oil/coagulant (magnesium chloride).

IMG_20200219_235953 (2)

Kikuta Namaage from Ebetsu Soybeans/江別の大豆でつくった生揚. Ingredients: Soybeans (from Ebetsu, Hokkaido), edible rapeseed oil/ coagulant for tofu (magnesium-chloride containing materials (nigari)).

Kikuta Namaage front of package    Kikuta Namaage ingredient list

Here are some examples of aburaage.

Hinode Old-Fashioned Aburaage/日の出 昔ながらのしっとり油あげ. Ingredients: Soybeans (Canada, not genetically modified), edible vegetable oil/coagulant (magnesium chloride).

IMG_20200219_235653 (2)    IMG_20200219_235703

Per the website, Tochio aburaage is deep-fried by hand in edible rapeseed oil in the countryside of Niigata.

Tochio Aburaage/とちお油揚げ. Ingredients:  Whole soybeans (Japan), vegetable oil/coagulant (magnesium chloride = bittern).

IMG_20200219_235544 (2)    IMG_20200219_235600 (2)

The source of the glycerine fatty acid esters in the following firm tofu is not known.

Kyoto Firm Tofu/京都の堅どうふ. Ingredients: Whole soybeans (domestic)(non-genetically modified), coagulant (magnesium chloride, calcium sulphate), antifoam (calcium carbonate, glycerine fatty acid esters).

Firm Tofu Firm Tofu Label

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can also buy freeze dried tofu (高野豆腐 – kōyadōfu) to add to dishes such as soup.

Misuzu Dried Tofu/みすずカットこうや. Ingredients: Soybeans (non-genetically modified), coagulant, baking soda.

Dried tofuDried tofu - back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SWEETENED/DESSERT TOFU

The source of the glycerin fatty acid ester in the following product is unknown.

Asahico Sweets Tofu/​スイーツとうふ カラメル(ソース付きIngredients: Tofu (Whole soybeans (not genetically modified), sugar, vegetable oil, salt), sauce (high-fructose corn syrup, sugar). Additives: Tofu (coagulating agent (magnesium chloride (nigari)), defoaming agent (glycerin fatty acid ester), flavoring, carotene pigment, stabilizer (xanthan gum).

Product contains soybeans.

20191010_194008 (2)    20191010_194018 (2)

Sagamiya, the maker of Beyond Tofu, makes various flavored tofus. They generally appear to be available on the market for a short time, before disappearing to make way for another product. The following photos were taken in a Maruetsu supermaket in March, 2020.

Sagamiya P.P.L. (Plant Protein Lab) Tofu, Cocoa/相模屋P.P.LTOFUココア風味. Ingredients: Tofu cream, processed starch, cocoa powder, dried okara, oligosaccharides, salt/coagulant (calcium chloride (nigari)), flavor, cacao pigment.

sagamiya ppl tofu    sagamiya ppl tofu ingredients

TOFU NOODLES

Convenience stores like Family Mart sometimes have pre-packaged noodle-shaped tofu with sesame sauce. The amino acids in the product are confirmed vegan, however, the manufacturer could not confirm if the sugar used in the product was bone char processed or not.

Be careful to get the product in the red-orange package with sesame tsuyu included, and not one in the blue package with fish included or the green package with egg and fish included.

• Kibun Tofu Somen Style with Sesame Tsuyu Sauce/紀文 豆腐そうめん風 胡麻つゆ付き. Ingredients: 【Noodle-shaped tofu】 Soybean (USA, Canada), starch components, salt/paste materials (processed starch, sodium alginate, polysaccharide thickener), coagulant (calcium chloride, magnesium chloride) (Contains soybeans as part of ingredients.)【Attached Sauce Packet】  Sugar, soy sauce, salt, sesame seed paste, sesame oil, yeast extract / seasoning (amino acid etc), thickener (processed starch), coloring (caramel), flavoring. (Includes wheat, sesame and soybeans as part of ingredients.) Manufactured on equipment that also processes eggs.

Roasted sesame was used to create the sauce. The products are meant to be eaten cold, without cooking. Open the noodle container and throw out the water, then add the sauce to the noodles and eat.

Kibun Tofu Somen Style front of package    Kibun Tofu Somen Style back of package

Kibun Tofu Somen Style with Mentsuyu Sauce/紀文 豆腐そうめん風 麺つゆ付きcontains fish in the sauce, as is typical for mentsuyu not made in a vegan restaurant.

The package has been changed recently. The old packaging is shown on the left, and the new packaging is shown on the right. Photo on the right from website.

20181121_233327 - copy    katsuo tofu noodles new package

• Kibun Tofu Somen Style with Egg/紀文 玉子とうふそうめん風 is not vegan as it contains fish and egg.

Photo from website.

egg tofu noodles new package

INARI ZUSHI

Another way of using tofu is in small fried tofu pouches meant to fill with vinegared rice to make inari zushi. While all major convenience stores that were asked used fish in small amounts, often not noted in the ingredient list, to flavor their inari zushi, there are inari zushi pouches meant for you to fill with vinegared rice at home that do not contain fish powder.

See more about convenience store inari zushi in our Convenience Stores section of the blog.

• Misuzu O-Inari San (16 pc)/みすずおいなりさん. Ingredients: Fried tofu (soybeans, non-genetically modified), vegetable oil, sugar, reduced starch syrup, soy sauce, salt, brewed vinegar, yeast extract, processed starch powder, tofu coagulant. (Product contains wheat flour)

This flavored tofu pouch for making inari zushi at home is confirmed not to contain fish or animal ingredients in the finished product. However, it does use bone-char processed sugar. The bones that are used in the processing come from cows.

Photo from website.

misuzu o inari san

YUBA

Yuba is similar to tofu, but is made without a coagulant. It can often be found in the tofu section of supermarkets.

Sanwatousuian Yuba/三和豆水庵 ゆば. Ingredients: Whole soybeans (from Canada (non-genetically modified)).

Yuba Yuba ingredients

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OKARA/UNOHANA

Okara (soy pulp) and okara powder can be found in many Japanese supermarkets. Some small tofu shops will also sell okara, leftover from tofu-making, for a low price or even give it away for free. It can be used as a thickener in dishes like soups and stews, to make vegan burger patties, and in baked goods like cookies and cakes.

Okara is also occasionally referred to as “unohana,” after the white flowers of the Deutzia shrub.

Below are some examples.

Kyoto Protein Kyoto Style Unohana/京都タンパク 京都のうの花. Ingredients: Soybeans (domestic, non-genetically modified).

OkaraOkara - back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Valu Okara Powder/トップバリュ おからパウダー. Ingredients: Soybeans (domestic).

Okara powderOkara powder - back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TEMPEH

Tempeh can be found in some supermarkets and in organic/natural stores. Below is an example of tempeh available in Japan.

Marushin Shokuhin Tempeh/マルシン食品テンペ. Ingredients: Soybeans (domestic, non-genetically modified), tempeh fungus, rice vinegar.

TempehTempeh ingredients

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terra Foods is a vegan company that makes a variety of products that can be ordered online. They also operate a very popular vegan hamburger and hot dog food truck in Tokyo.  Check here for information about their “Just Like Cheese” product and here for information about their “Just Like Sausage,” Just Like Chik’n Nuggets” and “Just Like Beef Seasoning.”

Their tempeh “Mighty Patty” needs refrigeration and can be shipped frozen or unfrozen.

Terra Foods Mighty Patty/マイティーパティ. Ingredients: Soybeans (grown in Miyagi) (not genetically modified), tempeh starter.

Photo from website.

terra foods mighty patty

Pura Tempeh Co. (English) is located in Hokkaido and delivers throughout the country. Facebook (English) Instagram (English)

 

NATTO

Nattō (納豆), made from fermented soybeans, is definitely an acquired taste (and texture). Many people can’t eat it, but if you can that’s great as it is available almost everywhere in Japan, including supermarkets and convenience stores. Just be careful because the accompanying sauce often contains fish. Look for かつお節エキス (dried bonito extract) in particular. Below is an example.

Takano Foods Ground Nattō/タカノフーズ おかめ納豆 旨味ひきわり. Nattō ingredients: Ground soybeans (from America or Canada)(non-genetically modified), rice flour, Bacillus natto. Sauce ingredients: Soy sauce, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, salt, kelp extract, vinegar, dried bonito extract, seasoning (amino acid, etc.), alcohol. Contains wheat.

Hikiwari NattoHikiwari Natto Ingredients

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition, the natto bacteria can be grown on either a matrix of plant matter or a matrix of animal matter, such as fish or gelatin. This would not be listed on the ingredient list as only the natto bacteria would remain in the final product. This brief, four-minute video by Vegan in Japan and Italy is a helpful introduction to the topic: Is Natto Vegan? Not as vegan as I thought.

The following Miyako Natto was confirmed in 2017 by Vegan in Japan and Italy to not contain a fish sauce packet and not use animal matter to grow the natto bacteria. The website recommends putting the paper packaging in the burnable garbage.

Miyako Natto/都納豆.

Uses 100% domestic large soybeans.

Photo from website.

miyako natto

 

MABO DOFU

Some AEON and AEON-affiliated stores carry a line of products called Sea and Earth Deli, produced by Mayumi Nishimura, a well-known macrobiotic chef. Seasonings (amino acids, etc.) are not used. Per her blog, these products are “100%植物性食品,” which means 100% made of plant ingredients. See the entire line-up of 18 products here.

Mabo dofu is a popular spicy tofu dish that originated in Sichuan Province, China.

Sea and Earth Deli Mabo Dofu with Soybean Meat/監修 西邨マユミ 海と大地のデリ 八丁味噌とごま油がアクセントの大豆ミートの麻婆豆腐. Ingredients: Tofu, vegetables (onion, ginger, garlic), mirin, soy sauce, granulated vegetable protein, sesame oil, starch, rapeseed oil, miso, kombu seaweed, dried shiitake mushrooms, spices, coagulant for tofu.

Product contains wheat, sesame, and soybeans.

Back of package photo from website.

sea and earth deli mabo tofu with soybean meat    sea and earth deli mabo tofu with soybean meat back of package stock image

SOY PUDDING

This Meito pudding base can be made with either warmed adjusted or unadjusted soymilk.

Meito Chocolate Soy Pudding Base/豆乳チョコプリンの素. Ingredients: Sugar (domestically produced), glucose, cocoa powder, salt/flavoring, gelling agent (carrageenan), sweetener (aspartame/L-phenylalanine compound, acesulfame K), colorant (Monascus purpureus).

Contains none of the 7 specified allergens.

Photo from website.

Meito Chocolate Pudding Base

Meito Soy Pudding Base/豆乳プリンの素. Ingredients: Sugar (manufactured domestically), glucose, salt/flavoring, gelling agent (carrageenan), colorant (gardenia), sweetener (aspartame / L-phenylalanine compound, acesulfame K).

Contains none of the 7 specified allergens.

Photo from website.

Meito Pudding Base

Upscale stores may occasionally carry Provamel soy pudding. The photo below was taken in a Bio C’ Bon supermarket.

Provamel Dessert Soya Chocolate/プロヴァメルオガーニック豆乳デザートチョコレット味. Ingredients: Water, raw cane sugar*, hulled soya beans (6.2%)*, fat reduced cocoa (3.3%), maize starch*, tapioca starch*, wheat starch*, sea salt.
* = organically grown/produced.

20200229_192349 (2)

Sato No Yuki Kantofu Soybean Pudding, Black Tea/さとの雪感豆腐大豆のプリン 和紅茶. Ingredients: Soymilk (including soybean: not genetically modified), sugar, syrup containing rare sugar, black tea, soybean powder, salt/coagulant (crude seawater magnesium chloride (nigari)), thickener (modified starch), trisodium citrate, Monascus purpureus pigment.

Photo from website.

Sato No Yuki Kantofu Soybean Pudding, Japanese black tea

Per PR Times (Japanese), the following flavor uses 100% wasanbon sugar, a traditionally refined Japanese sugar.

Sato No Yuki Kantofu Soybean Pudding/さとの雪感豆腐大豆のプリン. Ingredients: Soymilk (contains soy; not genetically modified), wasanbon sugar, soy powder, salt/coagulant (crude seawater magnesium chloride (nigari)), thickener (processed starch), sodium citrate.

sato no yuki plain pudding front of package    sato no yuki plain pudding back of package.jpg

Sato No Yuki Kantofu Soybean Pudding, Houjicha Adzuki/さとの雪感豆腐大豆のプリンほうじ茶小豆. Ingredients: Soymilk (contains soy; not genetically modified), adzuki amanatto, starch syrup, sugar, houjicha, wasanbon sugar, soy powder, salt/coagulant (crude seawater magnesium chloride (nigari)), thickener (processed starch), sodium citrate, cocoa pigment.

Amanatto are sugared, non-fermented beans.

sato no yuki houjicha front of package    sato no yuji houjicha back of package

Sato No Yuki Kantofu Soybean Pudding, Matcha Adzuki/さとの雪感豆腐大豆のプリン抹茶小豆. Ingredients: Soymilk (contains soy; not genetically modified), adzuki amanatto, starch syrup, sugar, matcha, wasanbon sugar, soy powder, salt/coagulant (crude seawater magnesium chloride (nigari)), thickener (processed starch), sodium citrate, gardenia pigment.

Amanatto are sugared, non-fermented beans.

sato no yuki matcha pudding front of package    sato no yuki matcha pudding back of package