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Aburaage is Japanese deep-fried tofu pouches made from soybeans. You can use it to make inari sushi, or add it to miso soup and hot pot.
What is Aburaage?
Aburaage (油揚げ) is Japanese deep-fried tofu pouches made from soybeans. It is made by cutting tofu into thin slices and deep-fried two times. They are first fried at a lower temperature of 230-250 ºF (110-120 °C), which causes the tofu to expand in size. Then they are fried again at a higher temperature of 360-400 ºF (180-200 °C), which plumps them up further and turns golden brown.
With the double frying technique, the skin of the tofu becomes so thin that it creates a hollow space inside (similar to pita bread), which allows you to stuff different ingredients in the air pocket.
You can make Aburaage from scratch at home. All you need is a block of firm tofu and cut it into thin slices. Be sure to drain the tofu well by wrapping it with a kitchen towel and leave overnight. When you deep fry the tofu, keep a close watch and flip them constantly, making sure the heat remains steady.
1 piece of Aburaage is ¾ oz (20 g).
Where to Buy Aburaage
For convenience, Japanese home cooks usually just buy the prepackaged tofu pouches from the stores, instead of deep-frying them at home. In the US, you can easily find aburaage in the refrigerated or freezer section of a Japanese grocery store. Some well-stocked Asian grocery stores may carry them too.
Japanese Aburaage is made in the same way as Chinese tofu puffs or other Asian bean curd puffs, but they are larger in size and flat. There is also another similar tofu product known as Atsu-age (厚揚げ) which is used differently.
If you cook Japanese food regularly, Aburaage is a convenient pantry item to stock up on. You can also freeze them for later use.
How To Prep Aburaage
It’s recommended to remove any excess oil from the Aburaage before cooking with them.
An easy way to is to simply prepare hot boiling water and pour all over the tofu pouches to remove the oil. You can also blanch the Aburaage in the boiling water.
Another method is to dab the Aburaage with a paper towel to remove any excess oil. It is not as effective as pouring hot water or blanching, but it is a quick trick when you don’t have time.
Recipes Using Aburaage
Aburaage can be used in different ways – you can slice it up and add it to soups, simmered dishes, or steamed rice, or use it whole in a hot pot, or pan fry it and add to your bento lunch boxes. My favorite is to use it for Inari Sushi.
Takikomi Gohan– Sliced Aburaage is added together with shiitake mushrooms, root vegetables to make a delicious pot of mixed rice.
Oden – Add Aburaage along with other ingredients and cooked in a flavorful broth for this popular Oden hot pot.
Ginger Rice – After removing the oil from Aburaage with hot water, slice them thinly and add into this fragrant ginger rice for extra texture.
Hijiki Seaweed Salad – Hijiki seaweed, carrots, lotus roots, and thinly sliced Aburaage are tossed into a pot to cook with dashi and other seasonings to make this homey salad.
Inari Age – Cook Aburaage in a dashi-based broth and make Inari Age for Inari Sushi and Kitsune Udon.
Inari Sushi – Aburaage is first boiled, then simmered in a dashi broth, and then stuffed with vinegared rice to make Inari Sushi.
Kitsune Udon – Top the seasoned Aburaage on udon noodle for a simple, hearty soup.