Wednesday, 21 December 2011

RECIPE: Agedashi Tofu

Thanks to friend and drinking buddy Sarah Werkmeister for this, the first ever guest post for Black Ladle. In between her role as Assistant Editor at the excellent Brisbane city guide Four Thousand, and presenting the Best Show Ever for 4ZZZ radio, she's also an amazing cook -- as you're about to find out...

The first time I tried agedashi tofu (as a teen), I drank way too much sake and the only thing that saved me was probably the amount of glutinous potato starch that covered the tofu I had just consumed. The scrambled tofu at Badde Manors had enlisted me into a life of regretting every second I knew that there wasn't tofu in the fridge.

Agedashi tofu (translated to deep-fried tofu - try running the characters through Google translate and it comes up with something like "head gain tofu corrosion") is like McDonalds for pescatarians. Or even vegetarians if you choose the bonito-less garnish. It costs much less than you'll buy at a restaurant and is relatively easy to make.

The style seems to vary from region to region, but I've perfected it for my tastes - you might like to cube your tofu a little smaller or make variations in the stock, but here's a recipe for disaster(ously great agedashi tofu).

1 pack soft tofu 4 tbsp potato starch (corn flour is a bit corny)
1 cup vegetable oil for deep frying in a smaller pan 

For the stock:
1 cup dashi - I've used stock (dashi) that you can buy at most Asian supermarkets, usually 1-2 sachets per cup, but check the directions
1 tbsp nori or some sort of dehydrated seaweed 
1 tsp shoyu soy sauce 
1 tbsp mirin 

Garnish: Chillies, spring onions, bonito flakes (skip this if you dislike seafood) 

1. Cut up your garnishes. Distribute them into serving bowls.

2. Start your broth - put 1 cup of water to simmer and add the nori, soy sauce and mirin. Keep this on a very low heat.

3. Get your tofu and tip it out onto a plate but make sure that it stays in one piece. Cut the tofu up into six cubes for a small pack of tofu - you can make the cubes smaller, but I like the fleshiness of the tofu.

4. Roll the cubes in some potato starch until the cubes are covered and you can't see any moisture through the potato starch.

5. Place tofu carefully in a pan which has about 2cm of hot oil in it… cook the little guys on one side, then flip them over.

6. Turn the tofu out into a metal strainer or paper towel.

7. Add the dashi stock to the broth - adding it at the end and letting it cook for about two minutes.

8. Place the tofu on top of the already garnished bowls, and then add the broth at the very end. You can add other ingredients like udon noodles or fried eggplant, which is better if you're after a hearty meal.