My travel-inspired Japanese Fried Tofu with egg, spring onion and bonito flakes, is protein packed and full of umami Japanese flavours. Easy to make and a perfect light meal or starter. Gluten free; Dairy free.
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Japanese Fried Tofu – A recipe from my travels…
If you like to try something a little different, then you’ll love this Japanese Fried Tofu dish. It’s a bowl of protein-filled goodness, which is unique in its oriental simplicity. Although it’s a recipe that I first discovered many years ago on my travels, it has become infused into my home foodie repertoire, which is all the richer for its discovery.
Indeed… I was first introduced to Japanese Fried Tofu in my 20’s when I visited a friend who was living in Japan. One evening, we shared a meal cooked by Japanese friends, who offered this very dish, but made with a tofu block rather than cubes. I was instantly impressed… The tofu (which is coated in cornflour before being fried) is crisp and golden on the outside, with a soft, silky white interior. The combination of flavours and textures from the crispy tofu against egg, onion and a sprinkling of bonito flakes (all cut through with a light saltiness from soy sauce), was unforgettable.
I knew it was a recipe that I had to recreate… And when I returned home, I did just that.
The recipe shared here is as I remember… The only difference is that the tofu has been cubed, before being coated and fried… I figured that way, there would be more crispy magic.
What’s in this Japanese Fried Tofu recipe?
My Japanese Fried Tofu contains only 6 key ingredients and is very simple to make. Each of the ingredients in turn, is relatively ‘non-descript’ if taken alone. But when combined, they work in harmony together, each marrying with the next, despite the contrasts between them.
Ultimately, what you get is a sort of deconstructed Japanese omelette… Possibly not the best description, but if you make it, you’ll get what I mean.
To make Japanese Fried Tofu, you’ll need:
- A firm tofu block – cut into cubes
- Corn starch (UK corn flour) to coat the tofu
- Eggs – lightly beaten
- Spring onions – trimmed and chopped into 1 cm lengths
- Soy sauce – gluten free Tamari
- Bonito flakes – just a sprinkling (see below)
In addition, you’ll need a little sunflower or vegetable oil (to fry) and some black pepper to season.
What is Tofu?
Tofu (also known as bean curd), is made from soybeans that are processed to curdle, before being pressed into blocks. It’s a bit like making cheese, really.
Once pressed, tofu is an amazingly versatile, low-fat ingredient that is high in protein, calcium and iron. And that is completely plant-based and vegan. Although it doesn’t really have much of a flavour of its own, its structure means that it absorbs the flavours of the marinades, sauces and spices that are set to cook alongside it. And that, combined with its great nutrition, means it has become a lasting staple of Asian cuisine and a rising star for the plant-based revolution.
It is the central ingredient used in this Japanese Fried Tofu recipe.
What are Bonito Flakes (Katsuobushi)?
While you’ve probably heard of and used tofu before, you may be less familiar with Bonito Flakes… So, what are they?
Bonito flakes are also known as ‘katsuobushi’… And they are actually smoked, fermented, dried, paper-thin, shaved strips of tuna fish (tuna also being known as ‘bonito’). It’s a long and complicated process… But once complete, bonito flakes become a central ingredient in Japanese cuisine… packed with umami flavour and aroma. What they bring is a savoury, lightly fishy, smokiness, which is quite unique.
Honestly… If you love the flavour of smoky fish, I urge you to source some… They are utterly divine used to season soups, and sprinkled on anything from omelette and frittata, to pizza and peppers. And when sprinkled on moist, hot food, they are as mesmerising as they are delicious… Moving and bending with the heat, a little like those bright orange fortune fish that were found in Christmas Crackers when we were kids and that curled with the warmth of your hands.
Where can I find bonito flakes (katsuobushi) to make Japanese Fried Tofu?
Okay… You’re unlikely to find bonito flakes (katsuobushi) in the average supermarket… Or maybe you are! Ocado have them listed online, so maybe it’s worth asking.
Failing that, if you have an Asian supermarket or Japanese store within reasonable distance, that’s where you are likely to find them. Or you can get them online at Sous Chef, or at Amazon (although they seem to be slightly more expensive here).
I’m vegetarian, do I have to use bonito flakes in this recipe?
Although not essential, bonito flakes do bring a perfectly Japanese and very flavoursome umami element to the dish. However, if you are vegetarian, Japanese Fried Tofu will still be very tasty with them left out.
Is this Japanese Fried Tofu gluten free and safe for Coeliacs?
Yes. Japanese Fried Tofu is made with gluten free ingredients and is safe for people with Coeliac Disease (Celiac). Just make sure that you use corn starch (UK: corn flour) to coat the tofu and check any labels to ensure ingredients are free from cross contamination and ‘may contain warnings’.
Is Japanese Fried Tofu also dairy free?
Yes. There are no dairy ingredients in Japanese Fried Tofu, so it is safe for anyone avoiding dairy too.
Have you made Japanese Fried Tofu?
Thank you for reading and for visiting Gluten Free Alchemist. I really hope you try (and love) this travel-inspired Japanese Fried Tofu.
If you make it, do let me know what you think. You can leave a comment at the bottom of the post, rate the recipe or tag me on social media. Find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest – #glutenfreealchemist.
For everything else, head over to our Gluten Free Recipe Index… And be inspired.
With my love
More travel-inspired recipes at Gluten Free Alchemist…
Japanese Fried Tofu (with Egg, Spring Onion & Bonito Flakes)
- chopping board
- sharp knife
- small bowl
- wok or frying pan
- silicone/wooden spoon or spatula
- 200 g firm tofu cut into cubes (approx weight)
- 3 to 4 tbsp corn starch UK: corn flour
- 2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil for frying (approx)
- black pepper to season
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- 3 spring onions – including green part trimmed and chopped into 1cm lengths
- Tamari soy sauce gluten free – drizzle to taste
- 2 tbsp Bonito flakes dried shaved tuna – optional
- Drain the tofu and gently press out any excess water, before cutting into cubes.
- Coat the tofu cubes in corn starch, making sure they are well-covered. Set aside, separated from each other.
- Heat about 2 tablespoons oil in a wok or frying pan until very hot and then add the coated tofu to the pan, frying and turning until the coating is crisp and golden on all sides.
- Add a good grind of black pepper.
- Turn the heat down a little and add the beaten egg to the pan and allow to cook and firm up, without stirring.
- As the egg solidifies, break it up a little with a spoon or spatula to give definable pieces of egg and tofu.
- Add half the cut spring onions and a good splash of gluten free soy sauce. Mix through, allowing the onions to soften slightly as they mix with the egg and tofu and the flavours mingle.
- Turn off the heat and transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with a good handful of Bonito flakes (if using) and the rest of the spring onions and serve.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist