Saturday, June 22, 2013

Agedashi Tofu


There is a cart at 10th and Alder that does a fantastic job of making this dish. I still haven't got the method right for the crunchy/chewy batter they do, but this is close.

I had to look up what agedashi is, and apparently, 'age' means fried, and 'dashi' is broth or stock. So, fried tofu in broth. Which doesn't explain what it tastes like at all. The brown sauce is indeed based on dashi, but it isn't the watery bland stuff the english word 'broth' leads you to expect. In this case, it is an intensely flavored sweet-salty-savory condiment.

1 lb tofu
glutinous rice flour
oil for deep frying

1 cup dashi
sesame seeds
fresh grated ginger

You may be able to buy dashi ready made, but I don't know. I went to Fubonn and got a box of these things that say they are 'katsuo dashi packs'. What they are is a thing that looks like an extra large tea bag full of dried fish and kelp flakes. The box has instructions for making the broth- in this case you throw a bag into 3 cups of boiling water and leave it for 5 minutes. Take out the bag, add 1/2 cup light soy sauce and a tablespoon of sugar. Simmer it for a couple more minutes and that's it.

Heat about 2" of oil in a pan until you can see the convection currents moving the oil around.

Cube the tofu and roll the pieces in the rice flour until they are thickly coated, then carefully drop them in the oil. Fry them until the outsides are crispy- they won't get very brown. Drain them briefly on paper towel, then serve them on rice  topped with a generous splash of dashi, grated ginger and sesame seeds.

What's about the beans? I just battered some green beans and fried them. I figured that if i was going to have an almighty mess in the kitchen with the frying oil, and the rice flour, and whatnot, I might as well make some tempura to go with my fake Japanese food. Mix about equal parts flour and cornstarch with enough water to make a very light batter, add a dash each of salt and pepper and dunk in the beans. Fry them until the batter is crunchy and as brown as you like.

You know, this turned out all right, and I'll probably make it again to see if I can improve it, but rather than fuss around with my sketchy instructions, you should just go to 10th and Alder get an order of it at the cart called Samurai. It's really quite amazing.

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