Agedashi Tofu is a delightful small dish of lightly fried, almost melt in the mouth tofu, sitting in a hot dashi sauce, topped with various garnishes like grated daikon, spring onions (scallions), nori and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes). It’s one of those dishes where the sum more than outweighs its few humble parts.
Agedashi Tofu, which literally means fried dashi tofu (age = fried), is a popular appetiser in Japanese restaurants and Izakayas, the latter being a little like our pubs and tapas bars. It’s very popular amongst my students because of its simplicity.
While a pretty easy recipe to make, agedashi tofu is also a much abused recipe. The perfect agedashi tofu should have a crispy exterior with a soft, satiny inside. Its thin coating of potato starch, that gives it a crispy coating, soaks up the beautiful dashi tsuyu (sauce) that it sits in, resulting in an umami filled experience with each mouthful of the tofu, the sauce and the garnishes.
How to make perfect Agedashi Tofu
Use the right tofu
Firm, silken tofu is the one you should be going for here, for that soft in the middle result. Firm tofu isn’t quite going to have the same effect. However, if you struggle with silken tofu, and this is your first time, by all means, go with what you are comfortable with first.
Salt and drain the tofu
Tofu, soft or firm, is full of water. So if we are going to fry it, it’s always a good idea to drain it first, as you don’t want exploding oil. And that’s the first step in this recipe.
Use a good dashi
Click here for the recipe. Homemade dashi is so very quick and easy to do. You can make it with any of the following:
- dried shiitake mushrooms
- katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) – click to read more
- dried anchovies – click to read more
So I urge you to try your hand at it. You can save the rest in the fridge, or freeze it if you don’t plan to use it within a few days. And use that dashi for the other Japanese recipes on this site, like the ones below.
At a pinch, you could use the same amount of regular chicken or vegetable stock.
Dashi teabags are pretty easy to come by these days, online or in major supermarkets, so look out for that. It’s just a case of steeping the bags, like you would tea bags. Did I say making dashi is easy? That’s what you’ll also be doing if you did it from scratch!
Derived from the starch extracted from potatoes, this is what is traditionally used for coating the tofu pieces. Potato flour, on the other hand, is from the grinding and drying of whole potatoes. Potato starch can easily be found in kosher sections of supermarkets and “Free From” sections, especially gluten free and paleo isles.
I often see cornstarch (cornflour in the UK) suggested as a substitute, you can use it, but to me, tapioca flour/starch makes a better substitute, if you can find it.
Agedashi Tofu Toppings
- Grated daikon (white radish/mooli) and spring onions (scallions) are the 2 most common and basic toppings. But there are no hard and fast rules here.
- I love my katsuobushi (bonito flakes, click to read more), so I always sprinkle some over.
- And, as I love a little spice in everything I eat, I also finish off with a very light hand of Shichimi Togarashi, that Japanese 7 spice mix (click here to read more and to make your own).
- Crumbled nori (sushi seaweed) is another favourite garnish when I make agedashi tofu.
- Soy Sauce
There are different types of soy sauces available; click here to read more. We are using light soy sauce here. The Japanese light soy sauce is very marginally sweeter than the Chinese soy sauce, so use that if you can, if not regular light will do.
Make it Gluten Free, Vegetarian and Vegan Agedashi Tofu
Use a gluten free soy sauce, like tamari.
Make/use a vegetarian dashi, just with shiitake or kombu.
Lose the katsuobushi as garnish.
That’s it, folks. Have you ever tried Agedashi Tofu? Do you like Japanese food? Let me know in the comments below.
Agedashi Tofu is a Japanese appetiser of crispy on the outside, meltingly soft on the inside, fried tofu sitting in a hot dashi sauce.
- 1 block tofu, about 400g (14oz)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp potato starch
- vegetable oil for frying
- 250ml (1 cup) dashi
- 3 Tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp mirin
- 1/2 a daikon
- 2 spring onions (scallions)
- 2 Tbsp katsuobushi flakes
- light sprinkling shichimi togarashi
- Sprinkle the salt all over the tofu block. Place 3 kitchen paper on a plate and place the tofu on them. Place another 3 kitchen paper, folded in half on the tofu, and weigh that down with another plate. Like a sandwich. Place a small weight over the plate, like a can of food. Leave aside to drain for 20 minutes.
- Add all the sauce ingredients into a small saucepan and leave aside on a cool hob.
- Grate the daikon and give it a slight squeeze with your fingers to get rid of some of the liquid, still leaving it moist though, just not dripping. Set aside.
- Slice the spring onions (scallions) and set aside.
- When the 20 minutes are up, heat the oil in a small wok, on medium high heat, making it come up to 2.5cm (1″).
- Turn the heat on low under the dashi sauce, cover, and leave to simmer while you get the tofu done.
- Pat dry the tofu and cut up into 12 little cubes. Take a kitchen paper and VERY gently dab the tofu pieces, without squashing them.
- When the oil is hot enough (throw in a small piece of spring onion, if it sizzles and rises up immediately, the oil is hot enough), dip the tofu pieces into the potato starch, shake off excess and slowly lower into the hot oil. Do this in 2 batches, one tofu piece at a time. Fry the tofu for about 1 minute, turning them gently with a small spatula or chopsticks to ensure that they are cooked all over. Don’t brown the tofu. They should still be very light in colour.
- Drain on a kitchen paper lined plate and keep warm. Just place them on a cool hob, making sure the kitchen paper doesn’t catch fire! Do the second batch.
- When all the tofu pieces are cooked, divide them up into 4 small bowls and spoon the hot dashi sauce all over them. This is when the tofu will take on a little colour, which is why in the images here, they are a very light brown. Divide the sauce up equally.
- Take a small amount of the grated daikon and place over the tofu, somewhere in the middle. Sprinkle the other garnishes that you are using all over. Serve immediately while still warm/hot.
Th total time does not include the time it takes to drain the tofu, as that is “hands off” time.
- Category: Appetiser, Starter
- Cuisine: Japanese
- Serving Size: 4