Agedashi dofu, or agedashi tofu, is a traditional Japanese tofu dish. It is soft tofu coated with potato starch and lightly deep fried so that the outer shell is crispy. It is typically served with grated daikon, katsuobushi (bonito flakes), scallion, nori or grated ginger on top. Then Tsuyu (sauce) made of dashi, mirin, and soy sauce is poured over the toppings and soaks the tofu to enhance its flavor. If you like spicy, you can add shichimi togarashi to spice up the taste.
A great Agedashi Tofu is like warm custard. It melts on your tongue into a creamy pool of savory dashi, lightly accented by the garnishes. The magic is in the way the coating absorbs the flavorful dashi, seasoning the tofu, while also releasing some residual oil into the broth, imparting a hint of richness without being greasy.
Agedashi dofu is pretty easy to get wrong. At its worst, it comes out soggy breaded grease bomb that tastes like stale donuts, smothered in a cloyingly sweet teriyaki sauce. Here are some cooking tips to get it right.
- It is essential to use fresh oil. Agedashi Tofu has a very delicate flavor profile and if you use old oil, it will end up greasy, tasting like all the things that have been fried in the oil before.
- The temperature of the oil should also be relatively high. This ensures that the coating fries up crisp, without frying the tofu itself.
- The coating needs to be potato starch - cornstarch just isn't the same. After soaking in the dashi, the potato starch will lose its crispness, but it absorbs the dashi in the process, creating a flavorful, nearly transparent skin.
- Use soft tofu. Firm tofu just doesn't have the same satiny texture of soft tofu and will leave you chewing a dish that should melt away in your mouth.
- Instead of just draining the and drying the surface of the tofu before frying, salt the tofu as well. This does two things. The first is that it helps rid the tofu of extra water better than just draining it. The second is that it lightly seasons the tofu, this allows you to make the dashi less salty, so you can enjoy it as a soup along with the tofu.
- Wrap tofu with paper towels and place it on a flat tray. Put a cutting board or a flat plate on top the tofu and let sit for about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, put dashi, soy sauce, and mirin in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
- Add katakuriko mixture in the sauce and stir quickly. Stop the heat.
- Dry tofu with paper towels and cut each tofu in half.
- Dust tofu with katakuriko.
- Heat oil in 350 F in a deep pot.
- Deep-fry tofu until they turn lightly brown. Drain on paper towels.
- Place each fried tofu in a small dish and pour the sauce over it.
- Garnish with grated ginger.