This is an excellent first course to a Japanese-themed meal. Just make sure you buy good tofu. The tofu is fried until it’s crisp and golden on the outside and meltingly creamy inside. The key is to serve it as soon as you make it. You don’t want crispy tofu lying around in a warm broth for too long.
Traditional Japanese recipes call for deep-frying, but I found pan-frying equally effective and it uses a lot less oil. Also, potato starch is usually the coating of choice, but I find cornflour works equally well, and you are more likely to have that on hand. For a completely vegetarian option, subsitute the dashi in the broth, with a vegetarian stock (mushroom based stock works best).
Agedashi Tofu (Fried Tofu in Broth)
The tofu can be served with varied toppings depending on what you have on hand. Spring onions, grated daikon (radish and a few flakes of bonito are typical. Other nice additions are toasted sesame seeds & grated ginger. Don’t skip the step for draining the tofu. It needs to be pressed before being fried to remove excess liquid.
Press tofu between two chopping boards with a weight on top and slightly raise one end; stand about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile combine the dashi, sake, mirin & soy sauce in small saucepan. Turn off and leave as soon as it comes to a boil.
Once the tofu has drained, cut it into 4 even sized pieces. Pat each one dry between layers of kitchen paper.
To cook the tofu, heat a thin layer of oil in a medium frying pan.
Place cornflour in a small bowl, and coat each piece of tofu in it. Shake away excess cornflour.
Gently lower the tofu pieces in the pan, and cook on medium heat, so that the tofu doesn't start burning.
Cook until lightly browned evenly all over. Drain on kitchen paper.
To serve: Place a piece of tofu in a shallow serving bowl; divide daikon, spring onion greens amongst bowls. Pour over the warm dashi mixture. Top with bonito flakes and chilli flakes, if using, and serve immediately.