Agedashi Tofu: Deep-Fried Tofu in Broth

October 8, 2014

Agedashi tofu (agedashi dōfu, age dofu or simply age tofu) is a classic Japanese dish that is perhaps the most well-known of all tofu dishes. It’s not a fancy one, in fact, that’s what makes it so wonderful - a celebration of a plain and uncomplicated food. Silken tofu is lightly dusted with cornstarch then deep-fried until crispy and served with a simple yet flavorful broth of soy sauce, mirin (a lightly sweet sake-like rice wine), and dashi (fish stock broth). The garnishes, as well as the amount of broth used, range from cook to cook but typically include green onion (negi), bonito flakes (kids loves these as the feather-like flakes flitter like live creatures on the plate!), daikon radish, freshly grated ginger, and seaweed (nori), to mention a few.  When fried, the tender cubes of tofu become lightly crisp on the outside, the inside warm and custard-like. On a cold day it’s a dish that wraps itself around you, giving you heat and much comfort.

Itadakimasu (bon appétit)!

Agedashi Tofu: Deep-Fried Tofu in Broth
Adapted from At the Japanese Table
Serves 4

For the best and most authentic result, look for a silken tofu that is firm in texture; avoid the grainy varieties. 

Ingredients:
12 ounces silken tofu
Cornstarch or kuzu
Vegetable oil plus a little sesame oil (~1/2 teaspoon) for deep-frying

For the Dashi:
Note: you can use instant dashi, which can be found in small glass jars or envelopes in the Asian section of many supermarkets, or buy on Amazon.com. Simply follow package instructions.
1 4 to 6-inch piece of dried konbu, wiped
2-3 packets (0.175 ounce each) dried bonito flakes

For the Broth (tentsuyu てんつゆ/天汁):
1/4 cup dashi or instant dashi (see note above)
1/4 soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin

Optional Garnishes:
Use just one or a combination of these ingredients
4-inch piece of daikon, peeled, finely shredded and squeezed of excess liquid
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 green onion, green and white parts, finely sliced at an angle (optional)
2 packets (0.175 ounces) dried bonito flakes (katsuoboshi かつおぶし)

Prepare the Tofu:
Wrap tofu in clean paper towels, set on a cutting board and place a plate on top of the tofu. Slope board over the edge of the sink (we place a rolled up kitchen towel underneath the board to prop it slightly) to allow tofu to drain.

While tofu is draining, prepare sauce and garnishes.

For the Dashi and Broth:
First make the dashi: Put 5 cups cold water into a large saucepan, add the kombu and heat slowly, skimming off any foam that forms on the surface. Just before the water boils, remove the kombu. Raise the heat and just as the water starts to boil again, throw in the bonito flakes. Bring to a full boil, then immediately remove from heat and allow the flakes to settle. Strain gently through muslin or a fine mesh strainer. Do not squeeze.

Prepare the broth: Mix the sauce ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.

While broth is cooking grate the daikon and ginger separately on a fine grater. Squeeze to make 4 small cones of daikon and 4 small cones of ginger; set the remaining daikon aside. Slice the green onion into threads and leave to soak in cold water. Put the bonito flakes in a bowl.

When the tofu is well drained, cut it into 4 to 8 cubes. Roll each in cornstarch, covering all sides, and set aside.

To Cook:
Fill a small saucepan with 2-3 inches of vegetable oil, adding a little sesame oil for flavor. Slowly heat to 350° F or until the top starts to shimmer. Using a slotted spoon, carefully place tofu batch by batch in the oil, keeping the pieces separate from one another (you may need to do more than two batches depending on the number and size of cubes you are frying).

Fry for 2 minutes or until just golden (they should remain a bit pale).

Place tofu on a clean paper towel to drain.

Remove sauce fro the heat and stir in a few spoonfuls of grated daikon. Drain the green onion and pat dry.

To Serve:
Divide fried tofu among 4 small bowls or plates. Ladle over the hot broth and sprinkle with green onion, a pinch of bonito flakes, a cone of ginger and a cone of daikon.

Serve immediately.

 

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