Preparing Deep-Fried Tofu and Recipes

Learn the best ways to prepare and serve deep-fried tofu as well as new tofu recipes to try.

| May/June 1977

  • Fried Tofu
    Deep-fried tofu can be used as a delicious and inexpensive meat substitute in a remarkably wide variety of recipes.

  • Fried Tofu

Bill Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi have previously explained the art of making and serving tofu in the MOTHER article, "The Plowboy Interview: Bill Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi." Below, the authors teach us how to prepare this nutritious — and inexpensive — food yet another way: deep-fried tofu.

Three types of deep-fried tofu are prepared in most Japanese (and many American) tofu shops: thick agé (pronounced ah-gay ), whole cakes of regular tofu which have been pressed and deep-fried; ganmo, deep-fried burger-shaped patties or small balls of firmly pressed tofu containing minced vegetables and sesame seeds; and agé, small pouches or puffs of deep-fried tofu that can be filled with salads, grains, cooked vegetables, or other stuffings.

Many Japanese chefs and tofu masters are of the opinion — with which we agree — that of the various types of tofu, deep-fried tofu may be most suited to Western tastes and cooking. All three varieties have a distinct, hearty flavor, golden-brown color, and firm, meaty texture that remind some of fried chicken. In fact the word ganmo actually means "mock goose," and this tasty tofu was originally developed by chefs who longed for the flavor of wild goose meat, a delicacy once forbidden to all but the Japanese nobility.

Deep-fried tofu can be used as a delicious and inexpensive meat substitute in a remarkably wide variety of recipes. Grilled or broiled, it has a savory barbecued aroma; added to casseroles, sautéed vegetable dishes, or curry and spaghetti sauces, it adds body, texture, and plenty of protein; served in sandwiches, egg dishes, or atop pizzas, it may be used like cold cuts or bacon; and when frozen, its structure undergoes a total change, making it even more meatlike, tender, and absorbent.

Because the processes of pressing and deep-frying greatly reduce the water content in this tofu, it will stay fresh for long periods of time without refrigeration. Thus it is well suited for use in lunch boxes or on picnics and hikes, even during the warm summer months.

In addition to imparting a rich flavor and aroma to tofu, the process of deep-frying also adds highly digestible polyunsaturated fats, usually from either rapeseed or soy oil. Thus when deep-fried tofu is used in place of meat, it serves as a source of the fatty acids necessary for a balanced diet and simultaneously helps to reduce the intake of saturated fats.

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