I had always wanted to try to make Agedashi Tofu, but when frying is involved, I get anxious. In the past, I always got too much smoke or the temperature is too low. Finally, I now have both grapeseed oil (very high smoke point) and a thermometer than can be placed in a very thin layer of oil and will still be reasonably accurate (and can stand the heat). With both of these things, I felt like I had enough data to control what was going on and neither burn down the house nor cook things poorly.
Also, I found a very tiny and hidden Japanese market nearby that could supply me with kombu and katsuo-bushi (bonito fish flakes) to make the broth, thereby saving me the discouraging 20+ minute drive to get to any other place I know of with the stuff. Further, I found 2 different recipes that together told me 1) How to make dashi (the base broth), 2) What temperature to fry the tofu, 3) What to add to the broth to make the sauce and 4) How to drain the tofu in the microwave. All of these things really helped me, and now I’ll combine them into one grand recipe!
I’m proud to say that I’ve succeeded in making passable Agedashi Tofu several times now. The first time the broth was too watery, which I’ve since tweaked, and the first time I also used extra firm tofu, because that’s what I had. It was edible, but since then I’ve used Medium tofu and Medium is much nicer (I don’t think I’m skilled enough handling tofu to go full Soft on the texture yet, but maybe someday).
Anyway, if you have access to the tools and ingredients, you should give it a try!
Dashi (broth base for sauce) Ingredients:
- Piece of konbu – Japanese packaged kelp, comes dried out in big flat package
- Half a packet of katsuo-bushi/bonito flakes – sold in little clear plastic individual packets, usually 5 to a bag
Ingredients for Sauce and Tofu prep:
- 1/2 cup dashi
- 1/2 pkg Medium/Regular tofu
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- Oil for deep frying – I use grapeseed oil because of the high smoke point, you need enough to come up 1/4″ to 1/2″ in your pan. I use a small cast iron pan, which seems to work well.
- Sauce seasonings (to add to the dashi to finish the sauce)
- 2 Tbsp. cooking sake (I just bought cheap sake from Trader Joe’s, it works fine)
- 2 Tbsp. Mirin
- 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- Remainder of the packet of bonito flakes you used to make the dashi
- 1 green onion, finely sliced
- Pickled ginger or grated daikon for garnish (optional)
Directions – Dashi
- Steep the konbu in simmering water for 10 minutes, then add the bonito flakes and steep for another 7 minutes.
- After the steeping, strain out the konbu and flakes and you’re left with the dashi broth. If too much moisture evaporated to make 1/2 cup, add a little water to it.
Directions – Tofu and Sauce
- Gently cut the tofu into 1/2″ to 3/4″ wide slices (you’ve already cut the whole block of tofu in half and saved one half for another use) and arrange the slices on paper towels on a microwave-safe plate.
- Place the tofu on a plate and microwave it for 1 minute. Leave it on the plate for a few minutes to drain further. I also squish it a bit with another layer of paper towel on top to squeeze out more moisture.
- Put the corn starch in a small bowl (you’ll use this setup for dredging each piece of tofu in the starch).
- Mix the seasoning ingredients with the dashi you made earlier. This is now the finished sauce.
- When the tofu is drained, heat oil to 355˚F for frying.
- Lightly dredge all sides of the tofu pieces in the starch and add to the hot oil. Don’t fry too many (crowd the pan) at any one time.
- Fry until lightly golden, turning once (I’ve found this to be about 1-2 minutes for the first side, and maybe 1 min for the second side)
- Remove and drain on paper towels as you fry the rest of the pieces.
- Serve on a plate or in a bowl, pour sauce over, and garnish with green onions and the rest of the bonito flakes, adding pickled ginger and/or grated daikon if you wish. Serve immediately.
The first time I made it – sauce was too watery!