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Age-Dashi Dofu

John Rayner

John Rayner
Hailing from Sherwood Forest, Little John has been occupying space in the Far East for over 10 years. His obsession with food and drink is only rivaled by his dedication to his beloved Saitama Jets.

 
 

Age-dashi Dofu is basically what the name says; tofu (dofu) that has been deep-fried (age) and immersed in a soup-stock (dashi), in other words "deep-fried tofu in broth", and is a fine example of traditional Japanese home-cooking. The tofu, having been cut into long squares and deep-fried has a crispy texture on the outside, but a soft inside that emits the full, juicy flavor of the stock. The dish is usually eaten on it's own as an appetizer.

The tofu should be prepared in cube-size pieces that can be eaten whole using chopsticks for the best experience (be careful not to burn your mouth though!). The tofu will have absorbed the flavor of the broth, so it's not necessary to add any other sauces, although the dish itself is often topped with grated daikon radish, ginger or bonito fish flakes. In fact the toppings are usually reflective of the seasons, an important aspect of Japanese cooking; for example in spring na-no-hana (rape-seed flower) or mizuna (potherb mustard) may be used, whereas topping it with grated daikon radish gives the dish a more wintery feel.

The broth is usually made with corn-starch to produce a thick stock, but some regions of Japan use plain flour instead. It is mixed with primary dashi stock and soy-sauce to create a light, refreshing flavor. As the name would suggest, the tofu should be deep-fried, but it is also possible to fry it in a regular frying pan with similar results. Care is required when cooking as the oil can tend to splatter, so make sure the tofu is drained thoroughly on kitchen paper before frying. The tofu flavor can thin out due it's high moisture content, so making the broth with a slightly strong flavor is recommended.

Age-dashi dofu has a long history going back to it even featuring in a cookbook on tofu called Tofu Hyakuchin which was published in 1782. These days, Age-dashi dofu features prominently on the menus at izakayas in Japan, and is considered a good accompaniment to a glass of beer for businessmen on their way home from work. And despite it being a deep-fried dish, due to tofu's purported nutritious benefits, customers can feel that they are eating something healthy. But then, maybe that's just the sake talking!

 
 

 

Glossary

Dashi
- A soup/stock used for many bases in Japanese cooking, generally made from water, kelp and bonito fish flakes. (Vegetable stock or chicken stock may be substituted depending on the dish)

Daikon
- A kind of large white radish

Izakaya
- establishments that offer a large range of small dishes that go well with alcoholic drinks, targeting mainly businessmen on their way home from work

Mirin
- A kind of rice wine similar to sake but with slightly lower alcohol content and higher sugar content. (A reasonable substitute is to mix sugar with sherry or sake.)

Mizuna
- a green leafy vegetable, commonly referred to as "potherb mustard"

Soy Sauce (Shoyu)
- establishments that offer a large range of small dishes that go well with alcoholic drinks, targeting mainly businessmen on their way home from work

Tofu
- Soy-bean curd

Age-Dashi Dofu

Age-Dashi Dofu
Photo provided by FOODEX JAPAN

 

Age-Dashi Dofu Recipe

(Difficulty Rating: 4 out of 5)

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 300g Firm Tofu (cut into bite size cubes)
  • 180ml Primary Dashi Stock
  • 20ml Soy-Sauce
  • Potato Starch (or corn-starch), as needed
  • 2 tablespoons Grated Daikon Radish and/or Grated Ginger
  • 1 small Leek, sliced thinly
  • Dried Fish Flakes (optional)

  • Dashi stock:
  • 160ml cold Water
  • 1 tablespoon Soy-Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Mirin (or sweet sake / sherry)
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1/2 Vegetable Stock cube
  • Salt, to taste

  • (The above dashi recipe might be easier for those not living in Japan. The traditional way to make dashi is to use kelp and fish-flakes - sit the kelp in the water for 15 minutes, bring to the boil and remove kelp with spoon. Stir in the bonito fish flakes, simmer for a few minutes and then strain. Try out some different ingredients and volumes to see which provides the best broth for your taste)


Instructions

  1. Wrap the tofu in kitchen paper and press out the water
  2. Toss the tofu in the starch / flour
  3. Deep fry tofu until lightly browned. Drain on kitchen paper
  4. Make the dashi stock: Boil the water and mix in the other ingredients, simmer for 5 minutes
  5. Mix starch with a little water, bring dashi to boil again and stir in the starch
  6. When the dashi has taken on a slightly thick consistency remove from heat
  7. Place 2 or 3 pieces of deep-fried tofu and some leek in each bowl
  8. Pour the dashi stock over the tofu
  9. Top with grated daikon / ginger or fish flakes as desired

 

 

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