According to Bon Appétit where we sourced this recipe, Hiyayakko is a Japanese warm-weather starter or side dish made of a small square of chilled silken tofu, a sprinkling of toppings, and saucy drizzles (think a heap of bonito flakes and puddle of soy sauce, or fresh tomatoes with ponzu).
In this version, the simple template goes family-style, with sliced silken tofu carefully shingled on a platter, topped with a savory ground pork and eggplant stir-fry. The combination of cold, custardy tofu and hot, saucy pork was a bit odd in our opinion. We think next time we’d use firm tofu and flash-fry slabs of it in a hot skillet, then shingle it on a platter.
Fresh basil from the garden showered on top was the perfect garnish. If Thai basil is accessible, use that. Unable to source Chinese or Japanese eggplant, we substituted an Italian variety which is typically larger, and therefore had to slice it down differently.
The hubs thought it would be good over steamed rice. While I agree, it is no longer a low-carb or as high a protein meal. Your call…
Sizzling Pork and Eggplant Hiyayakko
- 2 16-oz. packages silken tofu
- 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
- 2 medium Chinese or Japanese eggplant (about 8 oz. total), cut into 3″-long pieces, quartered lengthwise
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 2 red Thai chiles, thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely grated
- 1 2″ piece ginger, scrubbed, finely grated
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
- 4 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided
- 3 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar, divided
- Basil leaves (for serving)
- Wrap tofu in a few layers of paper towels to absorb moisture; place on a plate. Chill until ready to use.
- Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook eggplant, stirring occasionally, until slightly tender, 6–8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
- Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in same skillet. Cook pork, breaking up meat, 1 minute. Add chiles, garlic, ginger, and sugar and cook, stirring and continuing to break up meat into small pieces, until pork is no longer pink and mixture is fragrant, about 4 minutes.
- Return eggplant to skillet; add fish sauce, 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, and 2 Tbsp. vinegar. Cook, stirring often, until liquid is mostly absorbed and eggplant is browned and tender, about 3 minutes. Add remaining 2 Tbsp. soy sauce and remaining 1 Tbsp. vinegar and cook, stirring, until mixture is slightly saucy, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
- Carefully unwrap tofu; slice crosswise ½”-thick. Shingle tofu on a platter. Spoon eggplant mixture over; top with basil.
Adapted from a recipe by Kendra Vaculin for Bon Appétit