Thursday, April 7, 2011

Double Take: Deep Fried WHAAAT?

Remember the Life cereal commericals? "Don't worry your kids will eat it.....It taste like the bark of a tree...(horrified kid's face) Don't worry your kids will eat it. ...Actually its more like a stick...(child runs and hides)...Don't worry your kids will eat it....A cinnamon stick!!! NEW Cinnamon Oat Life. Cue happy faced, surprised kid and pleased parent. My family was more of a Fruit Loops clan. We didn't do cinnamon oat life. At the grocery store, my sister and I had to agree on a cereal for the next two weeks. If we didn't eat it, we had to finish it before we could pick something else. We picked a new one the next payday. Also, if we ran out early, our other option was Kellog's Corn Flakes. This set up good lessons in portion control, compromise, and finishing what you started ...and we learned to like corn flakes too.

My point is though that sometimes something you think you won't like, for whatever reason (even if you think corn flakes are plain), if you try it, you might change your mind. This happened to the Cat in the Hat with the green eggs and ham too, as you will recall. Sometimes, grown ups can be more stubborn about trying something they're "certain they don't like" than a kid.

Confession: I don't like tofu. It is typically squooshy and doesn't have much of a taste to it. I've tried it but its generally not my thing. That's what I said when Mel tried to get me to taste a piece of the Agedashi tofu appetizer at Ishi (a local Japanese restaurant). Well, that or way, tofu is disgusting and squooshy, no thanks, I've had it before and I'm not interested. She CLAIMED this was different. She CLAIMED it was crunchy, not squooshy...that it was TASTY, not gross and that the dipping sauce was awesome.

Agedashi Tofu

What could I do? I could

a) ignore these claims but still have a question b/c what if she was right
b) try it and find out....If she was wrong, then I'd never have to try it again.

What if I liked it? What if this one bite, changed my view of tofu and introduced me to something I enjoyed and would miss out on by not trying it.

I had to try it. My reaction: wow, this is good. I've since tried to get other friends to try it but most of them refuse and for some of the same reasons I had...Its not unreasonable but what if they're depriving themselves of something awesome? Its only one bite. By now, hopefully you have either rushed out to try some or are at least considering trying it, if you've never had it. For those who haven't had it (and maybe some who have) you may be wondering what is Agedashi tofu....

Agedashi (AHH-Guh-DAHH-She) tofu is a Japenese appetizer made of deep fried tofu with a sauce. The age tofu, refers to the tofu part itself which is cut into small cubes, rolled in a seasoned potato starch (hard to find, pricey) or corn starch (easy to find, inexpensive, and a typical household item in the Southern U.S.), and deep fried. The dashi part means a sauce. This sauce is not just plain soy sauce or mirin, instead it can be a soup base or a mixed sauce. Agedashi tofu can also be served with a topping, such as finely chopped green onion, fried ginger, fried basil leaves, etc. The night I made this, I was hungry...really hungry. I didn't bother with toppings but I did make a sauce for dipping the age tofu.

My friend B and I have been cooking on Thursday evenings and following up with watching the latest episode of Bones. (C'mon FOX, go ahead and renew it.) Anyway, I asked her if she'd be game to try Agedashi tofu and she said sure. I decided (in case it didn't come out as well as Ishi's or even if we were still hungry) that we should make something else to go with it. (SPOILER ALERT: The beef and snow peas recipe (coming soon to a blog post near you) was phenomenal.) The "recipe" I was started with was from Almost Bourdain. However, I noticed it was not quite a recipe and more like guidelines. I definitely changed it the point that what is recognizable between the two recipes is mainly the basic definition of agedashi tofu.


Wow, this is really crispy. Its not the least bit squishy. I like it dipped in the sauce. I like it cold or hot. I like it fresh or reheated in the toaster oven...I'd eat it in a box but not with a fox...foxes bite people. B and I both felt the recipe was worth making again in the future too.

Agedashi Tofu (inspired by Almost Bourdain)

Serves 4, Prep time: 10 minutes; Total time: 30 minutes

Suggested Tools 

metal tongs or a slotted spoon
2 inch deep frying pan or a deep pot for frying (whatever floats your boat)
cutting board
dry dish towel
sharp knife (utility or whatever's handy, a paring knife would be rather short)
2 small bowls (cereal bowls are fine)

Ingredients for the tofu

1 16 oz tub of silken tofu, firm or extra firm
1/2 c. corn starch
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/3 c. oil (I use either vegetable oil or Greek olive oil)

How to:

Add oil to your frying pan and begin heating to medium high heat. (You want the oil temp to be at 400 F when you add the coated tofu. This allows the tofu to cook quickly without absorbing the oil.)

Place tofu on a cutting board. Place a paper towel or dry dish towel (my preference is the dish towel b/c it won't stick) on the tofu and gently (seriously) press the towel against the tofu to remove excess fluid.

Slice the tofu block into quarters, then quarter the quarters, then quarter again. (Basically you want cubes that are roughly 3/4" per side.)

In a small bowl, add corn starch, salt and black pepper. Mix together.

Roll each tofu cube in the seasoned corn starch and set it back on the cutting board. When the oil reaches temperature, reroll the tofu cubes in the seasoned corn starch and place in the oil using metal tongs. (Note: When you place the tofu in the oil, sizzling and hissing should ensue with some medium sized bubbling that should stop shortly after the addition of the tufu cube. If this doesn't happen, wait before adding more tofu. The piece in there will be fine but will have a slower cooking time. You want these to only need to cook for about 1-2 minutes, rather than 5 -10 minutes.

Ready to go in the pan!

Fill the pan with tofu when the oil has reached the correct temperature. After 1-2 minutes, the cubes should be golden brown. I was able to fry the whole batch in either rounds.

Get 'em while they're hot!

Before starting the tofu, take a couple of minutes to prep your sauce.

Agedashi Tofu Dipping Sauce (I use this for dipping steamed chinese dumplings too) (inspired by a random recipe for stir fried zucchini)

Ingredients for dipping sauce 

2 Tbsp soy sauce
4 tsp hoisin sauce
4 tsp dry sherry or mirin
1 tsp sesame oil
4 tsp garlic (2 cloves, minced)
2 tsp chili flakes

How To: 

Put it all together in a small bowl and stir. Voila!

These are best when hot but can be enjoyed cold. I wouldn't recommend lukewarm. If reheating, use a toaster oven to restore the crispness.

Pop over the Fabulously Fun Food to see Mel's adaptation of Almost Bourdain's post!


  1. I'm so glad you liked yours too! Yay for success!

  2. You make it sound so good I think I would be willing to try it. We should find a way to make it without frying it!