Agedashi Tofu: Fried Tofu in Dashi Sauce
Nothing 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!
Ingredients (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
- Water – 1.5 cups
- Konbu – one 5 cm. piece
- Dashi – 1 teaspoon
- Soy Sauce – 1 tablespoon
- Mirin – 2 tablespoons
- Frying oil
- 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)
First, make the sauce
- Place a piece of konbu in 1.5 cups of cold water in the smaller pot
- Bring to a boil
- Add dashi, then soy sauce and mirin
- Keep on low heat
Then, fry the tofu
- 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)
- Fry the tofu pieces on all sides until the outside is a nice golden color.
- When done, place tofu on newsprint to absorb the excess fat
- For each diner, place two pieces of fried on each bowl.
- 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
- Sprinkle spring onions on top of each bowl
- Ladle the dashi sauce onto each bowl. Be generous: the tofu should be nearly covered by the sauce.
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.