Agedashi Tofu, Baked Enoki Mushrooms and Japanese Yams

It’s no secret that I’m completely obsessed with Japanese food. This I owe in part to my parents, who not only sought out most of the hundred or so Japanese restaurants in Los Angeles in the early 90s (then there were hundreds, now there are thousands) but put up with my sudden declaration of vegetarianism and honored my request to almost always eat Japanese. One of my favorite places growing up was a little spot in a strip mall on Ventura Boulevard. Amazingly, it’s still there.

Daichan was the first place I had Agedashi Tofu. It’s a simple dish but it so perfectly encompasses the spirit of Japanese cooking and the elusive “fifth taste” of umami. I cannot believe I waited so long to try it myself because it’s incredibly simple. You certainly don’t need a deep fryer, as mine was absolutely delicious and I only used about a cup and a half of oil.

You’ll need to use corn starch which might be a bit scary, but just a little it. The pan will get hot, but if you properly dry the tofu you won’t have much splattering. Also, don’t forget the scallions, they aren’t just a garnish. This dish is often served with fresh grated daikon radish…but to be completely honest with you…I forgot to buy it! Sprinkle bonito flakes on top if you’ve got them.

These are three simple Japanese dishes. Completely vegan if you don’t count the fish stock too! You can make them separately, but all together they look so beautiful.

For a great list of sources for Asian ingredients, check out this post: The Best Ethnic Grocery Stores in NYC 

The three pillars of umami (which I totally made up): soy sauce, dashi and mirin.

Agedashi Tofu

Serves 2

You will need:

For the broth:

2 Tablespoons instant dashi broth powder *see pic above

3 cups water

1 Tablespoon mirin

1 Tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

Dashi Broth

For the tofu: 

1 package soft or medium tofu (soft is traditional…but I actually find medium firm has more flavor and is easier to work with)

3/4 cup corn starch

2 scallions

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (or a bit more)

1 Tablespoon sesame oil (optional)

Method:

1. Begin by draining the tofu and slicing into 1 inch x 2 inch logs. Place these on a bed of paper towels for 20 minutes. Change the paper towels halfway through for dry ones. Chop the scallions into tiny pieces and set aside.

2. Prepare the stock by combining the dashi, water, mirin, soy sauce in a small sauce pan. Bring to a gentle boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.

3. Coat the completely dry tofu in corn starch and set aside. In a small pan (one that you use to make eggs in) heat the vegetable oil and sesame oil (adds a nice flavor) over medium-high heat. You want to use a small pan, so you can use less oil. You want the oil to be at least 3/4 inches deep. If you have a bigger pan, use more oil.

4. Using tongs, fry the tofu, 4 pieces at a time. Cook each side for about 2 minutes before turning. You want a nice golden color, but no scorch marks.

5. Drain on a paper towel. Serve in a small bowl with 1/2 cup dashi broth and chopped scallions.

Agedashi Tofu

Roasted Japanese Yams

You will need:

4 small Japanese yams, cubed

1/2 cup shitake or oyster mushrooms

5 garlic cloves

1/4 cup olive oil

salt

Before Baking

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 375. On a large baking sheet, spread the yams, cloves and mushrooms in an even layer. Drizzle the oil on top and toss to coat completely. Add a hefty pinch of salt.

2. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the mushrooms and set aside. Stir the remaining vegetables and continue to bake for another 20 minutes. They should get quite crispy.

After Baking

Baked Enoki Mushrooms

You will need:

1 package enoki mushrooms (slice off the roots)

1 Tablespoon mirin

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 Tablespoon sesame oil

3 Tablespoons dashi broth (see above)

Raw Enoki Mushrooms

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 375 (or, if making in conjunction with the potatoes, cook at the same time). In a small glass baking dish, separate the enoki into little bundles. Pour the liquids over the enoki and use your fingers to completely coat them. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.

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8 thoughts on “Agedashi Tofu, Baked Enoki Mushrooms and Japanese Yams

  1. I like the shot of the “raw enoki mushrooms.” They are quite common on streetside bbqs in China too, heavily doused (and sauced) with a blend of non-potable liquids and spices, and may go well with grilled mantou.

    Also, it’s a shame Yagura closed. Maybe not for their take-out food, but it meshed well with the rest of 41st st. But then Book Off closed, and the modern Japanese mart opened down the street. Well, if the time is right, I’ll just head on over to Mitsuwa Marketplace in Jersey…users of Zipcars take note, it’s right near a Trader Joe’s (and a Whole Foods for that matter).

  2. I LOVE agedashi tofu more than anything but for whatever reason have never gotten around to making it! I definitely will be trying this soon.
    Finally geting a chance to really look around your site and its great! I’ll see you in class on Wednesday. X Ruthy

  3. It’s gorgeous in deep, shimmery tones with shades of green or blue mixed in.
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