Aburaage is a deep-fried Japanese delicacy that’s prepared using frying oil and firm tofu. Aburaage is twice-fried to create delicious fried tofu pouches that are then used in other recipes, such as sushi or soups!
Aburaage is surprisingly easy to prepare by yourself at home, too, but it makes for an excellent addition to so many other delicious recipes. Keep reading to find out how to make deep-fried tofu pockets!
What is Japanese aburaage?
Japanese aburaage is a delicious component of many different dishes. Aburaage is often also known as fried tofu skin or tofu pouches because the cooking process allows the tofu to puff up, with a pocket in the middle.
Firm tofu first needs to be pressed to remove all the excess liquid. This stage of the recipe is integral to the process, and it’s important to use firm tofu rather than soft or silken tofu. The tofu needs to be able to hold its shape well through the deep-frying process, and soft tofu can quickly fall apart in the frying oil.
It’s then deep-fried twice over to give it that unique puff and a golden brown coating on the outside. The finished aburaage is wonderfully soft and packed full of protein.
It works particularly well as a meat substitute too because aburaage easily takes on the flavours of the food around it. Deep-fried tofu is perfect for marinating or for seasoning. It readily absorbs the flavours and has only a mild flavour itself. We love preparing aburaage to use in Japanese dishes like inari sushi.
How to make aburaage
- 1 packet of firm tofu*
- Vegetable oil for frying
* It’s important to use firm tofu that’s then firmly pressed using a tofu press. Firm tofu won’t dissolve while it’s being deep-fried and will better absorb the flavours of the seasoning than other types of tofu.
- Remove your firm tofu from the packaging and place it into a tofu press. Press out as much of the excess liquid as you can. If you don’t have a tofu press, then wrap the tofu in towels and use a chopping board or similarly heavy object to press down firmly on the block of tofu.
- Pour oil into a large skillet and start heating the oil on high heat.
- When the oil starts to bubble, place your tofu slices into the skillet. The oil doesn’t need to be boiling; rather, start frying the tofu when the oil is lukewarm.
- Keep turning the tofu to give it a chance to cook evenly, and after 5 mins, lower the heat on the stovetop.
- Keep frying on low heat for a further 5 mins. The slices of tofu should start to puff up like a pitta!
- Now you’re 10 mins in, so it’s time to turn the heat up to high again. Keep cooking until the tofu is golden brown on the outside. This should take a further 5 mins.
- Remove your deep-fried tofu from the skillet and place directly onto paper towels.
- The excess oil should be absorbed by the paper towels, and once it has, place the aburaage in plastic wrap for storage (if you aren’t cooking with aburaage immediately).*
*You might need to microwave your aburaage tofu pouches later, as they tend to harden up once they have been removed from the oil and left on the side. We suggest storing aburaage in plastic wrap or a resealable container in the fridge. Try to use the aburaage within three days of deep frying it.