I love Japanese food – Eating good sushi is definitely one of my favourite dining experiences. Over the past years I’ve begun to sample and enjoy different fast food style rice bowls, often from Japanese take-out restaurants/stores. Raw fish on rice, teriyaki on rice, anything of that sort. It’s a one dish meal that tastes great and is a great alternative to buying a sandwich or piece of pizza for lunch.
I’ve also begun using kombu (japanese kelp seaweed) to make kombu dashi, which is basically a soup stock that can used in lots of different Japanese recipes. Its super easy to make, and keeps well in the fridge… to me its the ‘secret ingredient’ for making great tasting miso soup (future post idea!).
Looking in the fridge I had kombu dashi I’d prepared earlier plus some tofu. How about an agedashi tofu bowl I thought? I’ve definitely had worse ideas!
For the sauce
1/2 cup of kombu dashi
2 tbsp of japanese soy or tamari
2 tbsp of rice wine vinegar (sweetened)
Optional: apple juice, sake, honey
For the Agedashi Tofu
Vegetable oil for deep frying
1 pack of medium firm tofu
1/2 cup of corn starch
Rice / Sides
1 cup sushi rice mixed with rice wine vinegar after its cooked
Vegetable options – steamed greens, asian slaw, etc – I used some leftover pea shoots, sliced onions, and beansprouts this time around
I began by starting the rice in my rice cooker. Follow the package and/or your rice cooker instructions – sushi rice typically requires less water than other types of rice. Once the rice is cooked add a few good shakes of sweetened rice wine vinegar and stir – this gives the rice that authentic Japanese sushi rice taste.
Next begin on the sauce. In a sauce pan I added all the liquid ingredients with the element set to low. You want to heat the sauce but you don’t need to reduce it immensely. You can tinker with with it as it cooks… some people may prefer it more sweet, salty, sour etc.
As the sauce heats, remove the tofu from the package and cut into cubes approximately 1 inch square (I endedd up with 18 from my package of tofu). Dry the tofu with some paper towels and then let it sit – this helps the cornstarch stick in the next step.
While the tofu sits, begin heating some vegetable oil either on the stove or in your deep fryer. I use a small sauce pan, and probably used a cup of oil to get the level up to about an inch or so. On my electric range I set the temperature to 5 or 6 out of 10 (medium – medium/high heat).
As the oil is heating you can begin rolling the tofu cubes in the cornstarch. I add the cornstarch to a shallow dish and roll the cubes so they are covered on all sides. I do this in batches, as my frying vessel won’t accommodate all of the tofu cubes at once.
Once the oil is heated I add the cubes gently into the pot, taking care not to splash too much oil. The cubes should begin bubbling immediately. As they cook, I add the remaining cubes to the cornstarch. After 5 minutes or so the frying tofu should be crisp on the outside. You don’t need to wait for the tofu to brown up too much… If the exterior of the tofu is crisp, its probably ready to eat!
When cooked, remove from the pan and either let sit on paper towl or add right to the serving plates. The tofu is hot and so will stay warm while you finish cooking the rest of the tofu.
To serve, I like to use shallow bowls that will allow the sauce to gather on the bottom. I laid a serving of rice on a bed of rinsed bean sprouts and sliced onions. Beside the rice add the fried agedashi tofu and any other vegetables you are serving. I sprinkled finely chopped green onions on the tofu, added a touch of chili garlic sauce to the rice, and then poured the sauce over the tofu. The crispy chewy agedashi tofu with a soft centre, dipped in sauce with a bit of rice, will turn any soybean hater into a believer!