I’m sharing one of my favorite Japanese dishes with you today. It’s a tender, silky tofu with a crisp fried coating in a small pool of dashi-based broth.
Aside from the frying, which always makes me cringe because of the mess it makes and the increased potential for injury, it’s super easy. I think the hardest part was hunting down the ingredients like dashi, bonito flakes, and daikon radish. But if you have access to an Asian grocery store, you might be in luck. Just be sure to get silken tofu and not the firm or even medium tofu. Cut it into cubes (technically, mine are rectangular prisms and not cubes, but whatever), blot dry, then give it a roll in the cornstarch just before frying.
Fry to a light golden brown. I think if you try to fry to a true golden color, you’re going to be 1) waiting a long time and 2) probably burning the heck out of something. Light golden brown is fine. Heat the tentsuyu ingredients together without boiling. Set a few cubes of tofu into a bowl, pour the tentsuyu over it, garnish with the ginger, daikon radish, and bonito flakes.
That’s it! So easy and so very comforting.
8-16 oz. soft tofu (in a block or a couple of blocks – don’t use firm tofu!)
1/2 cup cornstarch
oil for deep frying
tentsuyu sauce (see recipe below)
1 tsp daikon radish, peeled and grated
1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
dried bonito flakes/katsuobushi
green onion, sliced (optional)
3/4 cup dashi or Japanese fish stock (in my case, 1/8 tsp of hondashi with 3/4 cup water)
4 tbsps soy sauce
3 tbsps sake
2 tbsps mirin
3/4 tbsp sugar
Combine the tentsuyu sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until steaming, but not boiling.
Heat about three inches of oil in a medium saucepan. Slice the tofu into 1-inch cubes (or a little larger like 1x1x2 inches). Pat them dry with a paper towel and then coat them in cornstarch. When the oil is hot (flick some cornstarch in and when it sizzles, it’s ready), carefully drop 3-4 cubes of tofu into the oil to fry. When the cubes start to turn a light golden color, flip them in the oil until each cube is a light golden color all over. Remove from the oil and set on a paper towel or cooling rack to drain a little. Repeat until all of the cubes are fried. Place 3-4 cubes in a bowl. Pour some tentsuyu sauce over the tofu. Top the tofu with a pinch of the grated daikon and ginger. Sprinkle bonito flakes over top and garnish with some green onions. Serve hot. 8 oz of tofu should make enough to serve four as a light appetizer.