Monk's Loaf Recipe

Monk’s Loaf — a type of crisp, savory, bread-like food — is similar to tofu and is an expected dish in any proper Japanese meal.

Summer 2014

  • Photo courtesy iStock/y-studio

Monk's Loaf (or Ganmodoki)

A proper bentō also often has some type of crisp savory to offset vinegared or braised foods. For ours we are making gamodoke, which is a fried tofu loaf with various vegetables. It is a distant ancestor to the modern North America tofu burger.

There is a long-standing tradition in the Buddhist vegetarian cuisine of Japan to develop dishes that mimic the flavor of meat-based recipes. These then could be enjoyed guilt-free by the temple monks. This leads to one of the possible derivations for the name of this dish, as it was thought to taste as good as roast goose, hence the name “gan” (or goose) and “modoke” (or mock). Another less prosaic hypothesis is that the name derives from a conflation of the various names used in the Kyoto area for the meatballs introduced by the Portuguese, with the root “gan” referring instead to a ball.


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