If asked, ''how do you take your tea?' i reply, "seriously, very seriously."  

If asked, ''how do you take your tea?' i reply, "seriously, very seriously."  

Cold Hojicha Ochazuke With Fried Tofu

by Tarani Kitchen June 19, 2018

Like chicken noodle soup or mac and cheese in America, ochazuke is a simple and comforting meal in Japan. It's steamed rice with typically hot-brewed green tea poured over, and is served with some toppings, usually left-overs in the fridge. The most popular topping is cooked salmon but you can use seaweed, pickled plum, or mixed seasoning for convenience.  

We tweaked its original recipe to create a novice-friendly version. We combined two separate Japanese dishes, ochazuke and agedashi tofu, and we used cold-brew hojicha. And unlike the traditionally warm ochazuke, we made a cold version of it to beat the summer heat. We started with an adventurer's curiosity but the end result is a pleasant combination of hot and cold temperatures--hot fried tofu and pan-fried rice in a cold broth! 

Whenever there's 'frying' involved in cooking, prepping will make the whole process easier and safer.

For the sauce, our recipe uses a very versatile Japanese dipping sauce called mentsuyu as a base and we infused it with hojicha loose leaves. Mentsuyu is very easy to make and its use is limitless. Try making extra portions of this dipping sauce for different dishes like cold zaru soba noodle, tempura (fried food), steamed veggies, and on and on. Remember to store the sauce in the fridge.

We added two youtube videos so you can watch how to make mentsuyu and fry tofu. While their techniques aren't the exact same as ours, they'll give you a good idea of how they're made. 


Ingredients (1 serving)

1 cup of cooked short grain rice (We cooked rice with hojicha.)

1/4 of a tofu block, medium soft

Mentsuyu (soup base)


Potato starch


Toppings (scallions, any kind of radish, roasted nori, etc)

Rice tofu tsuyu   hojicha potato starch




Cold-brew Hojicha

See Instructions for how to brew Hojicha (Click here)


Hojicha-Infused Mentsuyu Soup Base

½ cup of soy sauce

¼ cup of sake (Japanese Rice Wine)

½ cup of mirin (Japanese Sugared Rice Wine)

1 small piece of dried kelp/kombu chip

½ ~ 1 cup of dried bonito flakes (For vegan, see below)

1 tbs of hojicha loose leaves

Pour sake into a medium-sized sauce pan on medium heat and let it boil. Then add mirin, soy sauce, the kelp, and bonito flake. Let it all simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Using a small sieve, fish out the kelp and bonito right away. Then add in the hojicha. Close the lid of the saucepan and let it sit on the stove until the hojicha infuses into the soup base (make sure to taste it!). Once you get the desired infused flavor, sieve it. Store the soup base in the fridge. 

{Watch how to make mentsuyu sauce here.} 

soy sauce sake mirin kelp bonito flake hojicha boiling tsuyu

Tofu with Potato Starch

Cut the tofu block in quarters and cut it in half again (1 serving). Using the paper towel, gently wipe/press out excess water from the tofu. Wrap them with a dry paper towel to get more water out. Keep changing the towel if necessary. (You can even cut the tofu into smaller pieces.)

On a flat oven sheet, spread the potato starch by hand and cover all sides of the drained tofu with potato starch. Shake off excessive starch. Put them aside.

tofu block tofu water out cut tofu tofu starching


Chop the scallion thinly. Shred the nori thinly (about 1 inch long and 1/8 inches thick) with scissors. Grate the radish with a grater or a food processor depending on the size of raddish. Squeeze out some of the water from the ground radish.

(To dye the grated radish purple as shown in the above photo, simply store the grated radish with a couple of thinly sliced beets in a small Ziploc bag and massage them together.)

radish radish grading radish  scalion nori

Rice Patty

Slightly coat your palms in oil and shape the rice into patties.

rice patty


Rice Patty - Heat the pan. Drizzle a little bit of oil. Pan-fry the rice patty's top and bottom evenly. When it gets browned, brush both sides lightly with mentsuyu sauce.  Fry more until you see a good brown. Take care not to burn it.

Tofu - In a deep pan or wok, pour the oil only up to half an inch high of the tofu. (You don't have to submerge the tofu in the oil.) When the oil is heated, start frying the tofu. If you see the starch gets clear you can flip and fry other sides. Do not over fry.

{Watch how to fry tofu here.}

frying tofu fried tofu

You can do both steps at the same time if you can. 


hojicha ochazukeIn a bowl, place the pan-fried rice patty at the bottom of the bowl and the fried tofu on the top. Pour cold-brew hojicha, add hojicha-mentsuyu to taste, top with grated


radish, chopped scallion, and shredded nori.



*Hojicha Infused Mentsuyu Soup Base (Vegan)

shiitake mushroomFor a vegan mentsuyu sauce, substitute bonito flake with dried shiitake. One downside in using dried shiitake is the lengthier cooking time and sitting time to get a more deep umami flavor out of the shiitake mushroom. I recommend making more than one serving for the vegan version.

1.5 cup of soy sauce

1.5 cup of mirin

3 pc of small kelp

1 cup of sake (Japanese Rice Wine)

10 pc of dried shiitake mushroom

2 cups of water

3 tbs of hojicha

In a medium to large sauce pan, bring all ingredients to a boil except the hojicha, and simmer for about 7 min. Turn off the heat and fish out the kelp pieces. Then add the hojicha. Let it sit overnight. Strain the solids. Keep it in the fridge or freezer for longer storage. 


Tarani Kitchen
Tarani Kitchen


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