During our last visit to Arashiyama, we visited a little restaurant specialising in Kyo-ryori, or Kyoto style cuisine, where among other regional fare we ate some little fried tofu fritters. Similar to ganmodoki, these springy morsels were made of crushed tofu mixed with assorted vegetables and hijiki seaweed before being deep fried. We were immediately taken by the combination of flavours which managed to evoke being by the seashore despite being surrounded by mountains and forest. To enhance this coastal feel we’ve added a second seaweed to our version, both in the fritters and as a flavour boosting topping.
- 480g momen tofu (two blocks)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dried hijiki
- 2 heaped tablespoons finely chopped burdock root
- 2 heaped tablespoons finely chopped leek
- 2 heaped tablespoons finely chopped bamboo shoot
- 1 1/2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 1/2 tablespoons aonori flakes (plus extra for serving)
- 1 egg white
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons potato starch
- pinch of salt
- vegetable oil for deep frying
- This first step is perhaps the most important part of making your fritters- you need to remove a lot of the excess moisture from the tofu, otherwise your mixture will be too wet and difficult to form into patties. Crush the tofu with the back of a spoon into a rough crumbly paste, then place in a sieve lined with kitchen roll to drain. Leave the tofu to drain for at least fifteen minutes, giving it a little squeeze now and then to help the liquid out, but don’t work it to the point of being completely dry, just a mouldable mass that isn’t too sticky in your hands.
- While the tofu is draining, reconstitute your hijiki by pouring hot water over and letting it steep for five minutes. Drain and rinse, then set aside.
- In a bowl, thoroughly mash the drained tofu then add the rest of the ingredients and the soaked hijiki, and mix until all the pieces of vegetable are evenly distributed. Divide the mixture into twelve equal pieces and roll into balls.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a deep-sided frying pan or saucepan to about 160ºC, flatten the balls in your hands and fry them until golden on both sides which should take about 5-6 minutes. You may need to fry them in a couple of batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Once cooked, dry the fritters on some clean kitchen roll to remove excess oil before topping them with coarse sea salt crystals and a generous sprinkle of aonori flakes. Serve with the following dipping sauce.
Dipping Sauce ingredients.
- 60ml soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- Put the soy sauce into a small bowl, then add all the other dipping sauce ingredients. Stir well to dissolve the sugar and to make sure everything is combined.
Makes 12 fritters, serves 4-6 people as a side dish or starter.