I recently tried Agedashi Tofu in my favourite Japanese restaurant, Ten Ten Tei. I was instantly addicted; silky smooth tofu, covered in a light, crisp coating and served in a light, slightly fishy and deeply savoury broth. I was only disappointed that there wasn't more of it, as I got only one measly lump so of course I decided to make it myself - so that I could eat as much as I like!
Tofu is often highly under-rated. Everyone I know regards it as a foodstuff for vegetarians, a protein for people who don't eat meat. This really isn't so - tofu is such a complex ingredient on so many levels. It's all about the texture of it, such as lumps of firm tofu in soups like miso soup or the Sichuan hot and sour soup. Similarly, deep fried tofu is succulent when stuffed and braised, taking on flavours from the braising liquid.
For two greedy people as a side
1 block firm tofu (I use Mori-Nu silken kind)
2 spring onions, chopped
1 tsp wakame seaweed, rehydrated
200mls dashi (or light fish) stock
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp Japanese soy sauce
Pinch of Sugar
A little grated ginger
Oil for deep frying
Remove the tofu from it's packaging and drain well. Pat dry with kitchen paper and cut into large chunks. Meanwhile, boil together the dashi stock (you can buy powder sachets from the Japan Centre) with the mirin, soy sauce and sugar. Heat up some oil to deep frying heat, when a breadcrumb sizzles. Coat the tofu in cornflour and carefully add to the oil. Fry until golden brown, drain on kitchen paper. Add to your bowl, sprinkle with grated ginger, spring onion, wakame seaweed and add some of the broth. Serve immediately.
I served this with miso aubergines, cucumber salad (adapted from BBC Good Food) and white rice. I was really surprised with how it turned out - it was absolutely delicious. I didn't miss meat at all in my meal, as the tofu made for a meaty texture. Definitely a favourite to add to the repertoire.
Perhaps the beginning of Tofu Tuesday?