Tofu! Now some of you are going to read that and think, WHAT?! TOFU?! Yes, tofu. Why? It is horribly underrated and completely delicious. Once you get the real thing. Tofu is thought of as a vegetarian or vegan ingredient, and yes it is, but in Asia it is as common to see it in a dish with meat, as not. See my recipe for Kimchi Jjigae (Korean Kimchi, Pork & Tofu Stew) for a very tasty example of this.
Tofu is also a fast food. The fastest, it is already good to go. It soaks up flavours and loves contrasting textures. I love it in a crispy fritter for brunch as much as I do in a stew. I love proper silken tofu, fresh from fridges of Asian food shops (especially Japanese). Silken is a joy, the very good stuff has the texture of custard. All of it is sublime when fried, and I have fried tofu every which way. A firm – nay, wobbly – favourite is Agedashi Tofu.
Agedashi Tofu – Fried Tofu with Dashi!
A Japanese delight of a dish, age-dashi means fry-dashi and that is what this is, fried tofu with a seasoned dashi broth. Seasoned with soy and mirin (you can use sake too). It is naturally gluten free, usually using potato starch or corn starch. I love to use potato starch for this, it confers a stretchy crispness which is perfect with the wobbly tofu underneath. I sometimes mix the potato starch with rice flour, and of course you can just use rice flour too which will give a lovely crisp coating.
The dashi sauce is very simple and very quick. A light broth and a simple infusion of katsuobushi (fermented and smoked skipjack tuna, easily available in Japanese shops or online), and the basis of many Japanese dishes, including miso soup. If you don’t eat fish you can make a dashi with kombu seaweed too. Use 1 part kombu to 10 parts water. You can cold brew it by just letting it sit in the water overnight in the fridge, or if time is pressing you can do this faster by putting the kombu and cold water in a pot and bringing it very slowly to the boil. Remove the kombu just before the boil (if you leave it in it will impart a bitter flavour), and you are good to go.
Once the dashi is made this is a very fast dish, and it is very satisfying. I like to serve it with grated drained mooli (those long pointy white radishes that you see in Asian food shops) and shredded spring onion. If you can’t get mooli, this would be perfectly lovely with some shredded cabbage and carrot.
To make this gluten free, use a gluten free soy sauce or tamari.
- 400g medium firm tofu
- 4 tbsp potato starch
- 4 tbsp rice flour
- oil for frying (to fill a frying pan up to an inch - or use a deep fryer)
- 10g katsuobushi
- 500ml water
- 250ml dashi
- 50ml mirin (or sake)
- 50ml soy sauce
- 1 mooli / daikon (it is the same thing) - you won't use the whole thing
- 2 spring onions shredded
- furikake or shichimi togarashi (Japanese seasonings - you can just use a sprinkle of chilli and toasted sesame seed too)
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