Sunday, February 2, 2020

Agedashi Tofu

First time I tried Agedashi Tofu was at our fav local Japanese restaurant in Wildomar, Sushi Ka. We wanted a light appetizer and tofu seemed to fit the bill. Out came a platter of small cubes of lightly battered and fried tofu sprinkled with scallions and served with a soy-dashi broth on the side. Sooooo good! I was surprised that such a simple dish could be so addictive - genius! On further research, I found that Agedashi tofu is a very popular dish in Japan, in particular, at Izakaya bars that serve small dishes/appetizers with their drinks. Sushi Ka serves their tofu with sauce on the side, while others actually place the fried tofu on top of the sauce. Of course I had to try to make this at home and here's my version. It is pretty traditional - just tofu cubes coated in potato starch and fried, with a soy-mirin-sake-dashi dipping sauce. Since tofu is inherently bland, I seasoned the tofu cubes with a little salt before coating, and also seasoned them again with a little more salt after frying. 

1 pkg (1 lb.) tofu - soft/silken, medium or firm (soft is trickier to fry)
3 scallions, finely chopped

2 cups dashi broth (2 cups water + 1 tsp. Hondashi powder)
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. mirin
2 tbsp. sake

1/2 cup potato starch or cornstarch
Kosher salt
Vegetable oil

Optional Garnishes:
1 Fresno chile, seeded and thinly sliced
Shaved bonito

1. Place the tofu block on a double paper towel-lined chopping board then cut into 24 cubes (see below photo); separate the tofu cubes into a single layer then cover with 2 layers of paper towels. Place another chopping board on top and weigh down with heavy cans. Let sit for 30 minutes to let the tofu drain out its liquid. 

2. Make the sauce: combine all the sauce ingredients together into a saucepan. Bring up to a boil over medium heat. Let boil for 4-5 minutes until slightly reduced. Turn off heat and cover to keep warm.

3. Place enough oil in a medium pot to reach 3 inches. Heat over medium-high heat until oil temperature reaches 350F.

4. In the meantime, remove the heavy cans, top chopping board and paper towels from the tofu. Pat the tofu gently with another sheet of paper towel. Lightly season with kosher salt. 

5. Place 1/2 cup potato starch on a plate. Gently toss half of the tofu cubes in the potato starch to lightly but thoroughly coat on all sides. 

6. Place as many coated tofu cubes onto a fine mesh skimmer and lower into the oil. Stir the tofu in the oil gently with the skimmer to prevent from sticking to the pan. Fry for 3-4 minutes or until the coating is crispy and barely beginning to brown. Remove the tofu to a paper towel-lined plate and immediately season with some kosher salt.

7. Continue frying the remaining tofu in the same manner until done. 

8. Place the fried tofu cubes onto a serving platter. Sprinkle with chopped green onion and/or any of the optional garnishes. 

9. Serve with the warm soy-dashi sauce on the side. This dish does not keep so must be served asap after frying.

 For the sauce: soy sauce, sake, mirin, and Dashi stock powder.

Cut the tofu block into 24 cubes. 

Separate the tofu cubes into a single layer on paper towels. 

Cover the top of the tofu cubes with more paper towels, then another chopping board (baking sheet also works); Top with some heavy cans to weigh down on the tofu. Let sit for 30 minutes to allow the tofu to drain its excess liquid. 

Combine all the sauce ingredients together into a pan. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes or until slightly reduced. Turn off heat and cover to keep warm. 

Garnishes: scallions and thinly sliced Fresno chiles. 

Coat the tofu cubes in a thin layer of potato starch on all sides. Fry the tofu in vegetable oil (in 2 or more batches, depending on the size of your pan) for 3-4 minutes or until the coating is crispy and just barely starting to turn light brown. 

 Drain the fried tofu on paper towels; season lightly with kosher salt.

 Serve immediately garnished with green onions, sliced chiles, or any of the other optional garnished. Serve the sauce on the side for dipping.

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