I’ve always loved Tofu, which I am quite sure is because of my Chinese heritage, along with having lived in Japan as a child. I don’t really understand the complaint that Tofu has no flavor, as I personally find fresh Tofu to be delicious. And, it acts a sponge for so many flavors, which makes it a culinary chameleon. My son Stephen shares my love of Tofu and the other day, he made Agedashi Tofu and I promptly made it at my house too since I always have Tofu in my refrigerator Agedashi Tofu consists of lightly pan fried Tofu squares (coated in either Cornstarch or Potato Starch) that are then bathed in a Agedashi Broth, which is a combination Dashi stock (made from Kombu and Bonito Flakes) and seasoned with Tamari, Mirin, a hint of Sugar and Stephen's special touch: some grated Ginger. You can use instant Dashi Broth if you like too. There is so much umami flavor in this dish and it has the wonderful contrasting textures of the crispy coating and the soft and creamy center bathed in a delicious broth. Sprinkled with very thinly sliced Green Onions and Bonito Flakes and other toppings of your choice, it is also a beautiful dish. Agedashi Tofu is so good that I had to share the recipe with you!
Dashi Stock (make ahead)
2 cups Water
1 3 – 4 inch square of Kombu
1/2 cup Bonito flakes
Place the Water and Kombu in a small pot. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Let it sit for 5 minutes and then remove the Kombu Piece. Add the Bonito Flakes and bring back to a boil. Then turn off the heat and let it sit for another 10 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine metal sieve before using. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Or make 2 cups of instant Dashi Broth.
1 cup Dashi Stock (recipe above)
2 Tablespoons Tamari
2 Tablespoons Mirin
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
A pinch of grated Ginger
For the Tofu:
1 carton of Soft Tofu, drained, cut in half lengthwise and then into quarters to make 8 squares
1 teaspoon Salt
¼ teaspoon White Pepper
½ cup Cornstarch or Potato Starch
½ cup of Vegetable Oil (I used High Heat Safflower)
Place the Tofu on a paper towel covered plate and top with additional paper towels. Pat lighty to dry and remove the paper towels. Then sprinkle the Tofu pieces lightly with Salt and Pepper on each side.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the Tofu when the oil shimmers. Cook the Tofu until it is browned and then turn over very carefully. Fry that side until golden brown.
Heat the Agedashi Broth and pour into 4 small bowls. Add 2 pieces of fried Tofu and top with Green Onion slices and Bonito Flakes and any other topping of your choice. Serve immediately.
Finely sliced Green Onion tops
Optional: Nori flakes, more grated Ginger, grated Daikon, a sprinkle of Shichimi Togarashi
Five Element Analysis
Tofu belongs to the Metal Element because of its white color, but because it is made with Soybeans, it also involves the Water Element. There are plenty of other Water foods in this dish too, starting with the Bonito Flakes and Kombu Seaweed along with the Tamari. More Metal foods can be found in the Green Onions (which also has some Wood) and the Daikon if you add it. The Earth Element is found in the Cornstarch or Potato Starch and the Ginger contributes even more. The Fire Element is found in the Mirin and the Shichimi Togarashi (if using). So only the Wood Element needs support, so be sure to serve some green vegetables as part of the meal.