Recipe: agedashi tofu
[A Fund for Jennie Raffle Update: Kaweah has done her job and picked two winners. I'm waiting to get confirmation that the winners made donations. I'll announce the winners in my next post! And again, my sincerest thanks for your support and generosity to help Jennie.]
While most people who maintain a blog fancy themselves writers and/or photographers, I don’t necessarily equate blogger with writer or photographer. I’ve never considered myself a writer, just someone who never shuts up. And even though I am not any flavor of good writer, I know what I like to read. A favorite blog of mine happens to belong to one of my favorite people. Certainly you’ve heard of Tea & Cookies? Tea (Tara) is a friend of mine and she paints scenes, feelings, stories with her words that flow so naturally. I’m there with her in her writing, or at least wishing I was. She recently released an ebook on her time spent in Japan – a country, culture, and people so dear to her:
I’m sending the little book I’ve written out into the world. It’s not the full story of my five years in Japan—just the first part (if there is interest, I will continue it). I’m selling it as a fundraiser, to raise money to continue supporting people who have had their lives shattered. A portion of the money will be donated directly to organizations doing work in the earthquake zone, a portion I may use to put in place some morale boosting efforts. There will be more information about that in the next month or so, along with some creative ways you may be able to participate (this could be fun!). They have to do the hard work of rebuilding, but we can cheer them along, remind them of hope and kindness.
you can read tea’s entire post here
You can purchase Tales from High Mountain in PDF or for Kindle. The price? A mere $3.99. Funds go to Japan and so do you. You travel with Tea to the mountains and explore a wholly different way of life through her young and curious eyes. I’m pretty sure this is going to cost me more than the $3.99 I spent on the ebook because now I want to go to there. It’s a beautiful account of her first months in Japan after college: honest, sincere, naive, respectful. Tea has a way of putting you right there – like a first person shooter game without the artillery. And of course there are the foods, traditions, celebrations, rituals, and several recipes she includes at the end. A truly delightful read that transported me across the Pacific. I highly recommend it.
In honor of Tea’s book, I’m sharing one of my favorite Japanese dishes with you today. Whenever I would see my late grandma, I would often take her out for sushi at least once during each visit. Knowing that she loved tofu, I’d order the agedashi tofu appetizer from the kitchen for us to enjoy together. It’s a tender, silky tofu with a crisp fried coating in a small pool of dashi-based broth. There would be grated ginger, daikon radish, and bonito flakes served on top. It usually arrived steaming hot and was especially welcome on those cooler winter nights in California.
cornstarch, silken tofu, green onion, daikon radish, ginger, bonito flakes
grate the ginger and the daikon radish
I find I’m always trying to recreate restaurant dishes at home and I just now realized why. My grandma used to do that. She was incredible in that way – in so many ways. She could reverse engineer just about anything and without the internets! Oh man, I miss her so much. Sometimes I forget she’s gone because she’s such a part of me. But I guess I didn’t inherit her amazing ability to deconstruct and reconstruct dishes like agedashi tofu because I just went to the interwebs and found a recipe.
tentsuyu sauce: mirin, soy sauce, sake, dashi, sugar
pour it all in a saucepan and heat
Aside from the frying, which always makes me cringe because of the mess it makes and the increased potential for injury, it’s super easy. I think the hardest part was hunting down the ingredients like dashi, bonito flakes, and daikon radish. But if you have access to an Asian grocery store, you might be in luck. Just be sure to get silken tofu and not the firm or even medium tofu. Cut it into cubes (technically, mine are rectangular prisms and not cubes, but whatever), blot dry, then give it a roll in the cornstarch just before frying.
cut into cubes
coat in cornstarch
Fry to a light golden brown. I think if you try to fry to a true golden color, you’re going to be 1) waiting a long time and 2) probably burning the heck out of something. Light golden brown is fine. Heat the tentsuyu ingredients together without boiling. Set a few cubes of tofu into a bowl, pour the tentsuyu over it, garnish with the ginger, daikon radish, and bonito flakes. That’s it! So easy and so very comforting. It’s like time spent with Grandma.
from Rasa Malaysia
8-16 oz. soft tofu (in a block or a couple of blocks – don’t use firm tofu!)
1/2 cup cornstarch
oil for deep frying
tentsuyu sauce (see recipe below)
1 tsp daikon radish, peeled and grated
1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
dried bonito flakes/katsuobushi
green onion, sliced (optional)
3/4 cup dashi or Japanese fish stock (in my case, 1/8 tsp of hondashi with 3/4 cup water)
4 tbsps soy sauce
3 tbsps sake
2 tbsps mirin
3/4 tbsp sugar
Combine the tentsuyu sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until steaming, but not boiling.
Heat about three inches of oil in a medium saucepan. Slice the tofu into 1-inch cubes (or a little larger like 1x1x2 inches). Pat them dry with a paper towel and then coat them in cornstarch. When the oil is hot (flick some cornstarch in and when it sizzles, it’s ready), carefully drop 3-4 cubes of tofu into the oil to fry. When the cubes start to turn a light golden color, flip them in the oil until each cube is a light golden color all over. Remove from the oil and set on a paper towel or cooling rack to drain a little. Repeat until all of the cubes are fried. Place 3-4 cubes in a bowl. Pour some tentsuyu sauce over the tofu. Top the tofu with a pinch of the grated daikon and ginger. Sprinkle bonito flakes over top and garnish with some green onions. Serve hot. 8 oz of tofu should make enough to serve four as a light appetizer.