Kanako's Kitchen

Agedashi Tofu: Fried Tofu in Dashi Sauce

Posted in main dish, Recipe, side dish by kanako on October 25, 2009

agedashi tofuNothing has done more to harm tofu’s reputation in the West than the sense that it’s “health food”. Lets face it: nobody wants to eat health food. “Health food” is just another way of saying “food that you eat despite the way it tastes”.

My philosophy is that you should never eat something primarily because it’s healthy: you should eat food because it’s delicious. The only way you keep coming back to a recipe, or to an ingredient, again and again is if your mouth waters when you think of it.

So here’s a dish to drive a mack truck through every idea you have about tofu. How about we bread it, fry it and suspend it in a lovely, deep dashi-based sauce? Agedashi tofu is a glorious dish, golden and soft and swimming in deep, delicate flavors that dissolve in your mouth like cotton candy.

For Agedashi tofu you can’t go without grated daikon.  It’s easiest to get nice fresh and sweet daikon in autumn and winter, so agedashi tofu is another menu you should try now!


tofuIngredients (serves 3)

 

  • Silken Tofu – 400 grams – (soft tofu will also work)
    • For some reason, Chinese brands of tofu tend to fall apart when you try to cook them this way! Pick a Japanese or Korean brand.
  • Potato Starch – half a cup, as needed
  • Daikon – one 8-10 cm. section
  • Spring onion – one

sauce

  • Water – 1.5 cups
  • Konbu – one 5 cm. piece
  • Dashi – 1 teaspoon
  • Soy Sauce – 1 tablespoon
  • Mirin – 2 tablespoons
  • Frying oil
  • Newsprint

Preparation

  • Cut the tofu into cubes on your hand (not on a cutting board)
  • Place the cubes on top kitchen paper and cover them with kitchen paper as well, to soak up excess moisture, for about 15 minutes.
  • After the tofu has dried, coat the cubes thoroughly with potato starch. Handle the tofu gently to keep it from falling apart.
  • Grate the daikon gently into a pulp, using a cheese grater (or, if you want to be fancy, a daikon grater).
  • Slice the spring onion as fine as possible
  • Set out a small pot (to cook the sauce) and a frying pan (to fry to tofu)

cut tofu soak up excess moisture coat tofu pieces with potato starch

tofu and corn starch grated daikon cut spring onion

Cooking

First, make the sauce

  1. Place a piece of konbu in 1.5 cups of cold water in the smaller pot
  2. Bring to a boil
  3. Add dashi, then soy sauce and mirin
  4. Keep on low heat

Then, fry the tofu

  1. Pour a layer of frying oil – about 0.5 cm. deep – in the frying pan and heat on a medium low flame. (Aim for 180 degrees)
  2. Fry the tofu pieces on all sides until the outside is a nice golden color.
  3. When done, place tofu on newsprint to absorb the excess fat
  4. For each diner, place two pieces of fried on each bowl.
  5. Top each piece of tofu with some of the daikon pulp. Here’s a kitchen trick: to avoid getting too much of the watery part of the pulp, do this with your hands instead of a spoon
  6. Sprinkle spring onions on top of each bowl
  7. Ladle the dashi sauce onto each bowl. Be generous: the tofu should be nearly covered by the sauce.

boil water with konbu dashi soup fry tofu 1

fry tofu fried tofu Top tofu with daikon pulp and spring onions

Ladel the dashi sauce click to enlarge


Last night we had our friend over for dinner, so we made 1-soup 3-dish: agedashi dofu, ohitashi boiled greens with mustard sauce, white rice, miso soup with daikon and wakame, umani and some hakusai pickles.

 

23th dinner

Itadakimasu!

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10 Responses

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  1. Mitchi said, on October 27, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Oh wow, how did I miss this one?

    I’ve always loved tofu…it’s tasty and healthy, and if you know where to get it, it’s not that expensive (at the local vietnamese shops, it’s $1 for 6 1inx2in blocks of fried tofu with seasonings), but very few people I know want to eat it. My mother is a fish and chicken type of person, and my husband doesn’t really like the texture. The only person who will eat Tofu I cook is my brother.

    I will have to make this for my vegetarian friend though, because he claims to not like Tofu, but I don’t think he’s ever actually tried it.

    • kanako said, on October 27, 2009 at 11:28 pm

      I understand why people don’t like tofu in the West… people don’t realize how delicious tofu can be.

      In fact, it’s difficult to get nice tofu in Montreal, a fact that can’t be helping.

      Mostly, Tofu needs rebranding in the West. The first thing that comes into western people’s minds when they think about Tofu is “healthy”. The first thing that comes into Japanese people’s minds when we think about tofu is “delicious”!

      I hope this recipe can help change the idea of tofu for at least some people!

  2. poutinepundit said, on November 29, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Tastes great with curry sauce! (Just kidding)

    • kanako said, on November 30, 2009 at 10:31 am

      Wonderful! I’m very happy that you tried the recipe. Thank you for posting the photo!

  3. Kepler said, on December 13, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    I am going to try it, but this leaves me wondering:
    “For some reason, Chinese brands of tofu tend to fall apart when you try to cook them this way! Pick a Japanese or Korean brand.”
    For some reason? It sounds as if either one or the other may have a substance that is not very kosher. Hm…I will check out the ingredients.
    Anyway, I will try it this week.

    I hope we get also some more paultry-related dishes. I love those!

    • kanako said, on December 14, 2009 at 7:13 pm

      Thank you for the research. I’m looking forward to your report.

      The other day my camera stopped working after I took it out in the snow. So I can’t add more recipe.
      As soon as I recover the camera, I’ll add some chicken recipe!

  4. Coral said, on February 2, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Hi Kanako,
    I had some agedashi tofu at a restaurant that I’ve been craving ever since. I’ve been looking up recipes, and yours looks about as close as I’m gonna get. I’m kind of new to Asian cooking though. If I just go to the local Asian supermarket, will it be easy to find these items? Are they all in the spice section?
    # Konbu – one 5 cm. piece
    # Dashi – 1 teaspoon
    # Mirin – 2 tablespoons

    • kanako said, on February 3, 2010 at 9:32 pm

      Hi Coral,
      if you aren’t familiar with Asian cooking, buy just dashi and mirin.
      If you live in Canada or in the US, Mirin will be very easy to find because it’s used for Teriyaki. In fact Mirin is surprisingly popular in Canada.
      If you’re in Europe, sometimes Mirin is difficult to find or too expensive. In this case, use Sake mixed with a little bit of sugar.
      And dashi or dashi-no-moto won’t be difficult to find in every Asian supermarket.
      If you can get konbu, it would be better. However Konbu is usually a little bit expensive (even in Japan) and compared to Mirin and dashi, you use it less often. So you can pass it, I think.

  5. Coral said, on February 4, 2010 at 11:10 am

    Thanks, Kanako! I found everything and we’ve made it twice in a row for dinner it was so good. It’s pretty much exactly like the version I had at the restaurant and I’m so happy I don’t have to go there anymore to satisfy my cravings. One thing about it though, right after eating it I’m full, but 2 hours later I’m ravenous again. Not really the kind of thing to make a meal out of. Comments regarding the recipe: a 5 cm piece of konbu didn’t seem like enough, so we added a 6 inch strip of it, took it out once it was soft and diced it up. Also, 180 degrees doesn’t seem hot enough. I really had to crank up the heat to get it to brown and be crispy. And I think a little sake would be nice, but we don’t have it around and it’s just fine the way it is. We added a little hot pepper. We can’t wait to try some of your other recipes, and are excited we’ve unlocked one of the mysteries of Asian food, dashi sauce! Once we had made it, I recognized the flavor. It will be fun to experiment. Thanks again!


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