Deep fried tofu? Yes please! These little tofu nuggets are a versatile dish with a surprising amount of flavor! Made completely out of vegetables in the tradition of shojin ryoyi, or buddhist temple cuisine, these traditional tofu fritters are so flavorful, you might just forget they’re meat free!
Ganmodoki translates as “goose-like”. Why goose? Historically, when the dish was first made goose was a very expensive, luxury food. The story goes when it was first served to monks, the flavor was so good that they praised it as being as delicious as the most extravagant of geese. Does it taste like a goose? You can decide, but regardless, the name stuck!
Japanese food can seem confusing at times since a lot of different words seem to refer to the same thing. This happens a lot due to regional differences, so depending on where you are in Japan, the name of the dish can vary. This is no exception, since you also might have heard the tofu nuggets called hiryozu, which translates as “flying dragon’s head”. When fried, the vegetables mixed in have a tendancy to stick out, which reminded people of the bristly whiskers and horns of the terryfing Chinese sky dragons! Thus, in Kyoto they’re commonly called hiryozu, but no matter what they’re called, they are amazingly delicious tofu fritters that you must try!
These fritters are substantial enough to enjoy all on their own, but they can also be served as an appetizer or snack. You can also make them ahead of time and use them in stews and soups, or in the corner of a bento. Not into the whole meat free thing? That’s fine, this dish is really easy to customize. Mix in some chopped shrimp or chicken, mix with egg instead of cornstarch, even use chicken broth instead of vegetarian dashi. Fritters are a great way to use up whatever you’ve got in the fridge, so whatever you have to use, just chop it up and you’ll end up with something really delicious.
Recipe – Ganmodoki With Simmered Vegetables:
– Remove as much water as you can from the tofu by slicing it into several blocks and wrapping it in a paper towel for 15 minutes.
– Mix in the dried seaweed, crumbled up as small as you can make it, as well as the salt, ginger and cornstarch. (You can soak the seaweed ahead of time and then mix it in, but it absorbs water so quickly I find it easier to let it soak up water while being mixed in the tofu. It also helps pull out a little bit more water from the tofu itself, so it’s up to you if you want to pre soak it!)
– Taking a small handful at a time, shape the tofu into small balls. I find it easier to shape them by pressing them into a spoon, making sure to sqeeze them firmly to keep their shape. If they aren’t shaped tightly enough, the balls may fall apart while frying!
– To prepare the vegetables, add the mushrooms, carrot, sake, mirin, soy sauce, and dashi in a small pot and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Let simmer for 5 minutes until the carrots are softened.
– Once the sauce is ready its ready its ready to serve! Arrange the ganmodoki on a small plate and ladle the sauce and vegetables on top. For added flavor, garnish with sliced green onion or shredded nori.