Japanese Fried Tofu (Agedashi Tofu) is one of the a-la-carte dishes you always find on the menu at Japanese restaurants. It is delicate and simple but so tasty. The sweet soy sauce-based dashi goes so well with deep fried tofu. It looks tricky but actually it is quite easy to make.
The proper name of this Japanese Fried Tofu dish is “Agedashi Dofu” (揚げ出し豆腐), not “Agedashi Tofu“. But most English version recipes on the internet call it “agedashi tofu”. Even Japanese restaurants in Sydney call it agedashi tofu. Perhaps this is so that people can Google search for “tofu” recipes. I guess nobody would search for “dofu”, and people may not remember the full name of this dish.
So, I decided to make the recipe title “agedashi tofu” too. But when I talk about this dish in this blog, I will use the right name and I hope you don’t mind.
The word “agedashi” (揚げ出し) is made up of “age” (揚げ, deep fry) and “dashi” (出し, dashi stock). When the word “tofu” (豆腐) is appended to the other word, it changes the sound to “dofu” for easier pronunciation.
Many Aussies love Japanese food and my friends are no exception. Because I am Japanese, my friends often tell me about the Japanese dishes they ate at restaurants and how much they enjoyed the food.
Agedashi dofu is one of the dishes I often hear friends say that they love. So, I tell them that they could make agedashi dofu at home and it is not difficult. But I see a bit of hesitation in my friends’ faces.
Perhaps because you need to handle a delicate tofu. Perhaps because it involves deep frying. (So many people declare that they will not deep fry for whatever the reasons. What a shame.) But I hope my friends will try to make agedashi dofu after reading the recipe today, because it is dead easy and delicious.
The tofu used in agedashi dofu needs to be not too soft and not too hard so that it does not break easily when deep fried, but the inside of the fried tofu is soft and delicate. The best tofu to use in this recipe is either firm silken tofu or momen tofu.
Firm silken tofu is slightly firmer than the softest tofu, silken tofu. Momen tofu is next to the firm silken tofu in terms of firmness of the tofu. I think that any harder than momen tofu would not suit this dish because it loses the delicate soft texture of tofu.
Tofu contains a lot of water, which does not go well with deep frying. So, it is important to remove the excess water from the tofu pieces so that the corn flour does not get wet when coated around the tofu.
It is also important to coat the tofu in corn flour just before deep frying. If you coat the tofu in cornflour too early, the cornflour gets soggy, which will cause oil splatter.
Some recipes use all purpose flour instead of cornflour. Either works fine but I prefer cornflour because it gives the outside of the tofu a lighter crispness than all purpose flour when fried.
The sauce that is poured over the deep-fried tofu is a typical Japanese sweet soy sauce mixed in dashi stock. It is a mixture of dashi stock, soy sauce and mirin. As you might have learnt by now, these three ingredients are widely used to make various sauces in Japanese dishes. For example, tempura dipping sauce, as in my post, Tempura, and the dipping sauce for Zaru Soba (Cold Soba Noodles).
Tempura and zaru soba dipping sauces are made from 4 portions of dashi stock and 1 portion each of soy sauce and mirin, while the sauce for agedashi-dofu has a bit more dashi stock using 5 against 1 portion each of soy sauce and mirin. But if you prefer a stronger flavour, you can use tempura dipping sauce.
Agedashi dofu is usually served with grated daikon, grated ginger and finely chopped shallots (scallions). The concept of adding grated daikon is very similar to that of Tempura. In addition to these, I sometimes add bonito flakes.
There are no rules as to what should go on the top of the tofu. You don’t need to have any toppings. But I think that a couple of toppings makes the dish more interesting and adds more colours to the dish.
Instead of grating daikon, you could shred daikon. Instead of finely chopping shallots (scallions) you could make long thin strips and make them curl by leaving them in cold water. You could also add thin strips of yaki nori (roasted seaweed).
As long as you don’t mind deep frying, it is quite easy to make agedashi dofu. It can also be a vegetarian dish if you use vegetarian dashi stock for the sauce (please visit Varieties of Dashi Stock).
Japanese Fried Tofu (Agedashi Tofu or Agedashi Dofu) is one of the a-la-carte dishes you always find on the menu at Japanese restaurants. It is delicate and simple but so tasty. The sweet soy sauce-based dashi goes so well with deep fried tofu. It looks tricky to make but actually it is quite easy.
Use vegetarian dashi stock for the sauce to make the dish vegetarian.
- 1 pack firm silken tofu or momen tofu (note 1)
- 2 tbsp cornflour/corn starch
- Oil for deep frying
- 2 tbsp grated daikon
- ¼ tsp grated ginger
- 2 tbsp finely chopped shallots (scallions)
- 4 boiled okra (note 3)
Add the Sauce ingredients to a small pot and heat over high heat. When it stats boiling, turn the heat off and put it aside.
Take the tofu out of the pack gently and cut it in half lengthwise, then into 3 crosswise, making 6 thin blocks.
Wrap each tofu block in kitchen paper and press gently but firmly to remove excess moisture. Be careful not to break the tofu. Place tofu pieces on a plate.
Place cornflour in a shallow plate and roughly spread.
Heat the oil in a deep pot or a pan to 170C (338F) (note 4). The depth of the oil should be minimum 5cm (2”).
Place tofu and cornflour plates next to the deep-frying pan. Taking one piece of tofu at a time, coat the tofu with cornflour ensuring that all sides of the tofu are coated with cornflour.
Gently place the tofu in the oil. You can fry as many of the tofu pieces as you can fit in at once but do not over crowd. I fried them in two batches, i.e. 3 at a time.
Fry for 2 minutes. Turn it over and fry for further 2 minutes or until the surface stars getting very light brown. Remove onto kitchen paper.
If the sauce has cooled, warm it up. Place 3 fried tofu pieces in each bowl. Pour the sauce over the tofu.
Squeeze water out of 1 tablespoon each of grated daikon by pinching it with two fingers and a thumb, shaping into a small mountain. Place it on the tofu pile.
Place a pinch of grated ginger on top of the daikon and sprinkle shallots over.
Place two okra on the side and serve while hot.
1. One pack of tofu I used was 300g (10.6oz).
Firm silken tofu is slightly harder than silken tofu. I sometimes use momen tofu (or regular tofu) which is much easier to handle since the texture is harder than firm silken tofu. You can use either type but I think that firm silken tofu presents a more delicate texture.
Silken tofu (kinugoshi-dofu) is too soft and easy to break. Firm tofu and hard tofu are not suitable.
2. You don’t have to have all the toppings in the ingredients but grated daikon and shallots are the most common agedashi tofu toppings. Sometimes, bonito flakes are also used.
3. Okra is also called ladies’ fingers. I happened to have some and I like it very much so I added it to decorate. You could have boiled beans or snow peas instead.
Before boiling okra, make a small incision on the side so that the pod does not explode when boiled.
Okra becomes slimy when boiled. Japanese people enjoy this slimy texture. I sometimes boil okra, slice crosswise thinly, mix with bonito flakes and a small amount of soy sauce and eat them with hot rice. They are great.
4. To check the temperature of the oil without a thermometer, use one of the following.
a. Drop small bits of breadcrumb into the oil. The bits will sink half way and then come up with small bubbles around them.
b. Stick a pair of bamboo chopsticks into the oil. Small bubbles appear around the chopsticks and come up constantly.