Tokyo Cooks

Food & Drink - April 19th, 1985

by Debbie Marcus

The minute I read in a magazine article that Brooke Shields is a devout vegetarian I resolved right then and there that what can work for one may work for another. But early into my vegetarian ca­reer, a friend told me that giraffes, cows and horses are also vegetarians. That totally unnerved me!

I then picked up the phone and called Judee Silberstein, the only vegetarian I know. Judee and her husband, Stan, have been ardent vegetarians for about 10 years and because of it they feel great! Well, they sure look great! The Silbersteins have always felt like salmon going upstream in the rivers of life after adopting the vegetarian way of life. They were always doing things dif­ferently than everyone else. But more and more as time goes on, society seems to be changing their eating, drinking and smoking habits and are becoming more in tune with Judee and Stan’s beliefs.

Stan is Regional Director for American Life Insurance Company (ALICO) in Japan and he sees the statistics, folks. No alcohol, no smoking and no meat or chicken are the basic rules under which Stan and his wife live and it certainly is working right for them. “People should worry less about getting so much protein. And carbohydrates — hey, they’re O.K. You should be more aware of vitamins and minerals,” Judee emphasizes. She feels that the average per­son is over proteinized. “There are better sources of protein than meat. Brown rice, tofu and beans are great protein sources.”

The Silbersteins take vita­mins E, C, complex B and a multiple vitamin, plus garlic and calcium supplements every day. Their diet consists mainly of pasta, whole grain breads, tofu, brown rice, eggs, fish, beans, cheese, vegetables and fruit. Their no-tobacco credo as strictly adhered to and, be­cause of it, cigarette smoke really bothers them. This at times makes living in Japan very difficult. Where can you go in Japan and not find cigarette smoke? The Silbersteins are responsible for seve­ral restaurants in Tokyo install­ing no-smoking tables, a really great feat in a country of heavy smokers.

Experts in nutrition are al­ways emphasizing the need our body has for calcium. The Silbersteins take calcium sup­plements as previously stated, but they also eat a lot of tofu which is a good calcium source. Judee taught tofu cooking for a number of years so she is an expert on the sub­ject by now. I knew tofu contained wonderful things but was not aware just how many —

8 oz. (227 grams) of tofu provide the same amount of calcium as 227 grams of milk.

227 grams of tofu provide about the same amount of iron as 4 1/2 eggs and 2 oz. beef liver.

227 grams of tofu has the same usable protein as 1 2/3 cup milk, 2 eggs, 2 oz. cheese and a 3 1/4 oz. steak.

That’s all very well and good but some people don’t like the taste (or lack thereof) of tofu. Judee has solved this problem by devising some really interesting and great tasting tofu dishes that require little time to prepare. Time is important to Judee as she has a successful business to run. “Creations by Chieko” is the name of her company and she designs, makes and sells beautiful silk shoulder purses made of kimono material. These can be found at Hayashi Kimono (International Arcade), the Ori­ental Bazaar, or call Judee (582-5832). She also sells them from her home.

Everything that Judee cooks must be dynamite because this lady has an incredible amount of energy. The tofu in her diet must have a great deal to do with this and also her good health and stamina. Here are some of the Silbersteins’ fa­vorite recipes.


Mix together:

1 can (16 oz or 454 g) whole beets, shredded
1 large carrot, grated and steamed for 3 minutes
1 pkg. momen (cotton) tofu, drained for 1/2 hour
1 1/2 cups cheese (3/4 Ched­dar and 3/4 mozzarella, grated and mixed toge­ther)
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
Sprinkle dried or fresh dill

Layer in a medium-sized casserole the following: beets, carrots, all the tofu (break and sprinkle), 1 cup of the cheeses, sprinkle dill and salt, beets, carrots and top with 1/2 cup cheese.

If you like onion rings and can find a can of them, sprin­kle them on top of the cas­serole for crunch.

Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted.


(Freeze the tofu a day or two before. Then take it out of the freezer, defrost, rinse and squeeze out until it is the tex­ture of a dry sponge)

1 pkg. frozen tofu
1 medium onion, diced
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 large sliced celery

Mix the mayonnaise, lemon, celery and  refrigerate. Cook the onion until tender in olive oil. (Judee uses Filippo Berio olive oil because it is the only olive oil she knows of that has no taste to it.) Stir in the tofu, curry powder. Cook 5 min­utes. Remove from heat and add to mayonnaise mixture. Stuff in pita bread with sprouts, avocado, tomato, let­tuce or whole wheat bread.
Makes 4 sandwiches.

*                    *                    *

There are no hamburgers in the Silberstein residence. They are dead set against meat. When asked why, Judee ex­plained, “First the animal is alive, then it is killed and right away it starts to deteriorate— like a person. Look at sashimi. You have to eat that right away or it goes bad.” She re­fers to meat as second-hand protein, so therefore the Silbersteins don’t eat beefburgers. They eat


1 cup dried lentils
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 Tbsp wheat germ
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 Tbsp mustard
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 egg, beaten
3 Tbsp butter or mar­garine
6 slices cheddar cheese
6 sesame seed rolls

Rinse dried lentils under cold water. Place in a large sauce­pan; add 5 cups cold water. Cover and simmer until soft, about 50 minutes. Drain; com­bine with next 8 ingredients. Divide mixture into 6 equal parts, form each into a patty. If patties are not firm enough, add more bread crumbs. Best to stick in the refrigerator for awhile so it will congeal.

In a large skillet, fry patties in butter for 3 minutes on each side. Place a slice of cheese on each patty. Cover skillet and cook for one minute or until cheese is melted. Serve on rolls. Serves 6.


Saute until transparent:

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large union, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 box spaghetti

Mix together:

1 pkg. momen tofu, rinsed and mashed well
2 245g cans tomato sauce
2 400g cans tomatoes
2 bay leaves, broken
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cubes beef bouillon, broken
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
Pinch fennel

Add the onion and garlic to the tofu/tomato mixture. Bring to boiling point then reduce heal and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Put lid on but keep ajar. Serve over hot spaghetti and also unmeatballs if desired. Serves 4-6


Combine and mix well:
1/2 pkg. tofu mashed well
1 egg
1/3 cup germ bread crumbs (Meidi-ya car­ries this) or rye bread crumbs 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp dehydrated onion flakes
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch fennel
1 cube beef bouillon, crushed (optional)
1/4 tsp garlic salt

Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan. Drop mixture by spoonfuls into the hot oil. Fry until brown. Drain and serve. Eat plain or serve with above spaghetti sauce. These arc also good with eggs, instead of sausage or bacon. Makes 16 small patties.

These next two dessert re­cipes are rich but irresistible. The first one is called ”Choco­late Lovers’ Delight,” As soon as Judee gave me this recipe I served it right away to a friend of mine, Ted Hall of Hayama. To say that Ted hated tofu is putting it mild­ly! I didn’t tell him what was in the dessert until he had completely finished. After he had pronounced it one of the best desserts he had ever eaten i broke the news to him.

Now we call him Ted the Tofu Head!


1 pkg. of chocolate chip cookies (approximately 14 cookies)
1 pkg, silk (momen) tofu
175g chocolate (a good dark chocolate like Lindt is best)
1/3 cup butter
3 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 tsp instant coffee, diluted

Sprinkle cookies with liquer of your choice. (Bailey’s Irish Cream is especially good.) Melt chocolate in double boiler with butter. Add the water, milk, vanilla and coffee. Let cool slightly and then put in blend­er with the drained tofu. Blend to a nice smooth con­sistency. Line a glass bowl (preferably) with 7 cookies, pour half of chocolate mixture over biscuits, then put another layer of cookies, followed with the remainder of the chocolate mixture. Place in refrigerator with Saran Wrap covering the top of the bowl. Better to eat the next day. Decorate with chocolate wafers and whipped cream before serving. Serves 4. This dish disappears so fast that it is almost essential that you double the recipe.


In a shallow, oblong, but­tered baking dish layer in order:

8 medium bananas, peeled and sliced in half, cut side up
1/2 block tofu (momen) and cut in 1/2-inch squares
3 medium navel oranges unpecled or peeled, thinly sliced, each piece cut into quarters

Cover all with honey or brown sugar to taste. Dot with butter or margarine. Bake at 300°F (150°C) for 30 minutes. Heat 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Amaretto or any sweet sherry or liquer and pour over fruit and serve. Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream may be put on top. Serves 6 to 8.