Aburaage is basically a deep-fried thin slice of tofu.
It does offer a very versatile option as it can be used as it is, or open as a pouch it becomes the base for inari sushi and many other variations!
Here is a simple recipe:
Tofu (firm Momen tofu type): 1 large piece/block (Icho in Japanese)
Long wooden disposable chopsticks (wari-bashi)
“Piano string”, or the equivalent
Oil thermometer (up to 200 degrees Celsius)
Make identations or marks on the chopsticks every 5 mm up to the height of the tofu block.
Tie “piano string” around chopsticks as shown on pic first at 10 mm height (or higher up to 15 mm if you wish), and cut tofu by sliding chopsticks along the cutting table (it should easy, but make sure you cut tofu evenly!)
Tofu being soft, it is not easy to manipulate.
Later, when you will manipulate it, the best way is to first turn over the whole onto your open palm and have each slice slide away.
Before manipulating the tofu, first put a 500g weight (anything over a thin wodden plank if you don’t have asushi weight) on top of the tofu for 2 hours to get as much water off as possible.
Transfer slices onto thick towel and leave them there for an hour.
First frying step: fry tofu slice at 130 degrees Celsius (make sure to keep the temperature constant!) for 6 minutes. This will allow for a uniform heating.
Second frying step: bring oil temperature to 160 degrees Celsius.
If tofu contains too much water or if you fry in a single step, it will fail to achieve the right shape and quality.
Aburaage will usually be a bit hard upon frying.
To make it soft, wrap it in xellophane paper and and heat inside electric oven. As soon as water comes out of aburaage inside the cellopahne paper, take the whole out and unwrap aburaage.
The aburaage should be soft by then.
Check if the aburaage needs a second frying (according to your liking).
if you fry it at 130 degrees, it will reduce as the one on the right in the picture.
If you fry it at 160 degrees you will obtain an aburaage like the left one on the picture (longer one).
To properly open it, cut in half, and then cut inside to form a pouch!