Karaage is one of the most popular homemade main dishes in Japan. Usually it is made with chicken, but I am here to share with you a tofu version. Yes, you can make the Japanese favorite with tofu! It is crispy on the outside and juicy and aromatic on the inside. It’s delicious and easy to make, and doesn’t require a ton of ingredients.
- ½ block of firm tofu
- 3 tsp grated ginger
- 3 – 4 garlic cloves, grated
- 3 tablespoons – soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons – sake
- 3 tablespoons – mirin
- ½ tsp – black pepper
- ½ cup potato starch (sub for cornstarch)
- frying oil
- Press tofu until most of the liquid is gone, about 30 minutes.
- In a bowl, mix together the ingredients for the marinade. Ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sake, mirin, and black pepper. Set aside.
- After 30 minutes, tear the tofu. This will create a more “organic” look rather than cutting it into cubes. Marinate tofu for 30 minutes to an hour. The longer you marinate the tofu, the more it’ll soak up the flavors!
- While you wait, heat the oil to 350° Fahrenheit (medium heat) in a thick bottom pot, such as dutch oven or cast iron wok/pot. Before you start frying, make sure the oil is at the right temperature. (See notes).
- When the oil is ready, working in batches, dust the tofu in potato starch and immediately fry. Try not to let the potato starch soak up the liquid from the tofu, it will be gooey and sticky.
- Carefully drop the pieces one by one into the hot oil and fry for 5 to 6 minutes or until golden brown fully cooked. Do 2 to 3 batches depending on the size of the frying pot.
- Remove the tofu from the oil and place on paper towels to dry any excess oil or even a cooling rack with a baking tray underneath to catch the oil dripping.
- Serve immediately on a plate with a couple of lemon wedges, rice, and vegan mayonnaise (or if you can find vegan kewpie mayo, the better). Enjoy!
- I like using potato starch because it gives a better crisp, it is lighter and crispier than cornstarch, but you can totally substitute cornstarch for it.
- To check the heat of the oil, use a food thermometer, or use the end of a wooden skewer and dip it in the oil. If you see bubbles forming around the skewer and start to float up, your oil is ready. If it’s bubbling vigorously, the oil is too hot. Reduce the heat and try again. Make sure it is at a steady 350° Fahrenheit. If the temperature is too high, lower the heat.
- If you try to fry when your oil is not ready, the food will soak up all the oil and it will result in a really greasy end product.
Keywords: vegan, tofu, karaage, japanese cuisine, japanese recipe