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just back from japan

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.

pouring tentsuyu

serve hot

Agedashi Tofu
[print recipe]
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)

tentsuyu sauce
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.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

sesame tofu cold tofu salad honey sriracha japanese fried chicken karaage hunan tofu

26 nibbles at “just back from japan”

  1. alice says:

    i love this dish, can’t wait to try!

  2. Margie says:

    Thanks for the recipe! I’ve been cooking Asian recipes like crazy, lately, and this is one that I will definitely attempt. I say, ‘attempt,’ as it is always a hit-or-miss with me when I fry something. (I have a fear of flaming oil!)

    Best wishes to, Tara. May she have great success with her endeavor.

  3. christine says:

    Oh this looks absolutely perfect! I hate frying too…time to get over it I guess.

  4. Susan/@latenitepho says:

    Finally, I know the secret to crispy tofu! Cornstarch!
    Squeezing all of the water out of it just enough.
    Thanks for the tip, and for the beautiful post.

  5. Mollie says:

    looks so good – amazing comfort food. thinking of grandma… and you

  6. Joy says:

    The Dish looks wonderful.

  7. Melanie says:

    Hi Jen
    what would you put in to make it a spicy sauce? i have had it like that before and it was awsome.

  8. Yi @ Yi Resevation says:

    I love agedashi tofu…will try to make this at home sometime soon! Thanks for sharing

  9. barbara says:

    I’m afraid of deep frying so never do it. The dish sounds wonderful though. Lovely photo of the tofu against the blue dish.

  10. Debs @ DKC says:

    Brilliant, I’d love to try this but I just can’t get my head around the texture of tofu LOL.

  11. lisa says:

    I did not realize that the tufu is coated with cornstarch. What a relieve. I thought it had to be something fancy. it will definitely in my try out soon b/c it is one of my faorite food.

  12. tea_austen says:

    You are the sweetest! Thank you so much. Except now I am craving tofu, and I’m on a small remote Canadian island with no access to ingredients! xox

  13. Perfecting Pru says:

    I had Agedashi Tofu on Tuesday during a marathon sushi session and it was wonderful. And now you have given me the recipe I will have to give it a go!

    Thank you.

  14. ARC says:

    Perfect timing. I’ve resolved to eat more tofu, have a block of it in the fridge and not sure what to do with it, and wanted to cook something to share with dairy-allergic BabyT. Hooray :)

  15. jenyu says:

    Margie – this one is pretty easy!

    Susan – I was totally surprised too (but happy it was something so simple)

    Mollie – awww, thank you dear. xo

    Melanie – maybe slice up some jalapeño pepper or thai bird chilis?

    barbara – thank you, my friend.

    tea_austen – now that you’re back home, you can enjoy it! :)

    Perfecting Pru – it’s so nice to be able to make it yourself!

    ARC – yay :)

  16. Bahia says:

    This is one of my absolute favorite Japanese dishes. I haven’t had much success replicating it so far, but I will try your recipe.

    Also, I’ll definitely be getting your friends book. I used to live in Japan and I love reading about the experiences that others have there. Also, I think it’s great to be supporting the relief effort there as much as possible. There are still so many people who need help.

  17. erin @ from city to farm says:

    Yum, yum, yum!!!! I think the closest asian market is at least an hour away here, but consider this bookmarked!

  18. How to Make Your Own Dashi for Miso Soup Recipe | Guilty Kitchen says:

    […] with Miso-Ginger Dressing from Never Homemaker Miso Teriyaki Pork Steamed Bun from  Kitchen Em Agedashi Tofu from Use Real Butter Zaru Soba from Just One Cookbook Matsutake Mushroom Risotto from No […]

  19. Alex says:

    We made this. It was awesome. A+++

  20. Callie says:

    Do you think you could fry these in a deep cast iron skillet? When we’ve attempted agedashi before, we’ve never been able to get the oil hot enough and it’s turned out soggy. Do you think the cast iron would help??

  21. jenyu says:

    Callie – I’m sure you could. If that works for you, then go for it!

  22. Sandra says:

    My boys LOVE agendashi tofu at Japanese restaurants and were THRILLED when I made it at home! Your recipe was simple and DELICIOUS!!! Thank you!!

  23. Sharon says:

    Hi Jen,

    First off, my hats off to you for this wonderful recipe! I’ve been consuming and loving agedashi tofu for years but never attempted to replicate it at home – I envisioned it as: Me + soft tofu + frying = kitchen disaster. That is, until today. I stumbled on your site, got inspired by your post and photos, had all the ingredients, and I thought “why not?!” WOW! Delicious. I am giddy like a kid knowing I can make agedashi tofu! Thank you so much for posting this! I am an instant fan!

  24. {Recipe} Agedashi Tofu | says:

    […] Agedashi Tofu (adapted from Use Real Butter)  […]

  25. Patty says:

    I think someone’s using your agedashi tofu photos

  26. jenyu says:

    Patty – thanks for the heads up. I removed the link because I don’t want a link going to a scraper. I’ll see what I can do about getting the photos taken down, but I haven’t had much luck if any on sites in Asian countries :(

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