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Steamed Tofu Ramekins with Soy Sauce, Scallions, and Nori
Steamed Tofu Ramekins

Ingredients:
1 pound soft bean curd, broken into coarse chunks
4 teaspoons Japanese soy sauce
2 teaspoons finely minced scallion
4 teaspoons aji nori furikake*
few drops Japanese sesame oil

Directions:
1. Divide the bean curd among 8 small ramekins that each have a capacity of 2 ounces. Drizzle each one with 1/2teaspoon of soy sauce. Place on a steamer rack over boiling water and steam until hot, about 3 minutes.
2. Remove from steamer, and sprinkle each ramekin with scallion and aji nori furikake. Drizzle a drop or 2 of sesame oil on each one, and serve immediately.

And this lightning-fast Japanese meal-opener shows off the loveliness of soft tofu: inside their ramekins, the chunks of jiggly bean curd turn to virtual velvet. Combined with the vapors of the steamer, the tofu yields a delicious broth in the ramekin-making this small cup a perfect starter for a Japanese wintertime meal. If you don't have the small ramekins, you can easily transpose this recipe to plates or bowls. Make the whole pound of tofu on one plate, if you wish; just keep the proportions of the other ingredients intact. Makes 8 small first-course servings