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Looking for something autumnal to nibble on with some wine or sake? The Asahi Shimbun Digital [and] (w) has you covered.

Cook Kimiko Hiyamizu creates dishes in response to requests from readers (and the editorial department). In the fifth instalment of the series, she takes up the challenge from a female reader in her 30s looking for a stylish side-dish to go with an evening drink in the autumn.

Hiyamizu is delighted with the request, agreeing that the longer nights in autumn make an evening drink all the more enjoyable, be it wine or sake. And also with the idea of making a sophisticated side dish just for yourself and not only when you have company!

Her autumn ingredient of choice is fresh figs, emblematic of the season in colour and aroma. Figs don’t have a particularly strong taste so they can be combined with lots of other foods, such as shira-ae (白あえ, salads using mashed tofu). It’s a versatile technique so Hiyamizu gives it a Western twist so it will go well with wine, making the tofu into a sauce that can be poured over the figs. Figs have their own particular texture, which she leaves as-is, adding a heavy tofu sauce instead of blending everything in the traditional salad style.

She cuts the figs lengthways into quarters and arranges them on a plate, then squeezes some ao-yuzu (青ゆず, green yuzu) over them. [Not sure I’ve ever had ao-yuzu. Maybe lime would do as a replacement?] The fresh acidity of the citrus juice emphasises the sweetness of the fig and brings out its flavour. She then grates the peel of the squeezed ao-yuzu and uses it to decorate the figs. The reporter asks if other Japanese citrus fruit like kabosu or sudachi could be used instead, but Hiyamizu cautions that their peel is bitter, where ao-yuzu peel is not.

The heavy sauce is given depth of flavour by sesame seed paste, producing a Western-looking dish that wouldn’t look out of place with a glass of wine, but made with Japanese ingredients that will also pair beautifully with sake.


  • 2 figs
  • 1 ao-yuzu


  • 100 g silken tofu
  • 0.5 tablespoons white sesame see paste (白練りゴマ, shiro neri-goma)
  • 0.5 teaspoons sugar
  • 0.5 teaspoons vinegar
  • 0.25 teaspoons light soy sauce

Blend all the sauce ingredients in a mixer to a paste. (A photo in the article shows a handheld stick mixer.)

Cut the figs in half , squeeze the ao-yuzu over them and then pour the sauce. Decorate with grated ao-yuzu peel. [The figs seem to be quartered in the photos, but I’m sure it doesn’t make much difference.]


  • Original article (Japanese, Asahi Shimbun Digital [and] (w), 20 September 2018)