People from all over the world have enjoyed different types of stuffed food from pita pockets to dolmas, dumplings, parathas, and raviolis.
Arguably, one of the most unique and tasty versions of this type of food would be the Japanese Aburaage.
This is what you get after deep frying thin slices of tofu. They are most commonly used in miso soup, but they are extremely versatile.
And so tasty that you might be wondering if it’s possible to save some for later – for example by freezing Aburaage.
The good news is that if you have discovered Aburaage and how easy it is to make it, there’s no stopping you from trying to make a bigger batch and properly storing it! This means that you can easily freeze Aburaage for later use!
After the two-step deep-frying process, this tofu delight becomes a sort of a pocket. But unlike other types of pockets, their culinary use is not confined to being stuffed.
How to freeze Aburaage or fried tofu?
The first thing we need to know is how much tofu you want to process into Aburaage and what portion sizes you consume.
If you are getting a batch ready and will be using it in the next 2 or 3 days, keeping your Aburaage in the refrigerator inside a dry airtight container would suffice.
However, if you decide to go through the frying process one-time but big-time since chowing down on this light and yummy treat is something you relish and just cannot get enough of, then you will have to freeze them.
YES! We can freeze Aburaage!
If you buy ready-made Aburaage, you will find that they are frozen, unlike silky or firm tofu which reside in the refrigerator compartments with their brine.
But why settle for the store-bought kind when you can make you own at home? This way you can control the quality of the tofu and save some money too.
This means you will be able to enjoy more Aburaage based recipes – from sweet to savory!
The trick is to let your Aburaage properly cool off before trying to freeze it. It’s a good idea to keep them on a paper napkin, so that all the excess oil is sucked out of them and they’ll taste better when defrosted.
Aburaage must be completely cold before freezing and as dry as possible in order to prevent the bits from freezing into a big gump of fried tofu. If you let it cool completely, you won’t have to freeze the bits individually.
Frozen Aburaage remains good to eat for about six months after preparation, sometimes longer.
Where Do We Begin?
Making sure that your Aburaage tastes fresh starts the moment you prepare your tofu. As we all know, Aburaage is made from firm tofu – not the silky or soft kinds.
Choose Your Tofu Right
- When choosing tofu for Aburaage make sure that it is fresh and properly covered in brine when you buy it. Do not get any tofu with discolorations or cold burns on the surface. Pinkish spots indicate that the tofu is spoiled.
- The firm tofu should be dense, not falling apart when you lift it. This makes for good deep frying.
- The tofu you use must not be more than 2 to 3 days old. If you are buying packed tofu, please check the manufacturing and expiration dates. While it can be stored in the freezer as well, frozen and defrosted firm tofu can come out slightly flaky.
Proper Frying for Perfect Aburaage
- Make sure you drain your firm tofu from excess brine water.
- Heat your oil for deep frying but watch that you do the first-frying when it reaches a temperature of 230-250 ºF (110-120 °C). You will notice there is no sizzle or bubbling. This step makes the firm tofu expand in size.
- Remove the tofu and drain. Wait for the oil to reach a higher temperature of 360-400 ºF (180-200 °C). This makes the tofu turn into Aburaage -getting it plumper. Remove the Aburaage pieces when they turn golden brown.
Point to remember! Aburaage is when we deep fry the firm tofu and NONE of the soft white flesh inside remains, thus earning it the moniker “tofu pocket” or tofu skin.
The deep frying creates the air pocket that allows the Aburaage to be stuffed with egg treasure bags or the more popular inarizushi! Let this be your guide when checking for the doneness of your Aburaage.
Handling Aburaage After Frying
- Post deep-frying, remove the excess oil from your Aburaage. In a clean pot, heat some water. Once it is bubbly and boiling, drop them in and let stay for a couple of minutes. Remove them from the water then place in a strainer to drain well. Do not put the pieces on top of each other.
- After making sure all the excess is liquid is out, you can roll a round chopstick on the surface to loosen it up before slicing it open in the middle with a thin knife for stuffing.
Storing Your Extra Aburaage
- An airtight, dry container is always the best option for keeping the excess of your prepared Aburaage batch.
- If you intend to consume some in the next few days, it is okay to store the Aburaage in the refrigerator.
- If you intend to keep your Aburaage after a week, keep them in sealed, airtight containers in your freezer.
Easy Thaw and Use
- Just move your frozen Aburaage to the refrigerator the day before. Just before prepping your food, place some of the Aburaage in a saucepan and pour enough water to cover your Aburaage. Bring to a boil then drain.
- You can now flavor, slice, or stuff your Aburaage, depending on what you plan to prepare!
And if you happen to be doing all of this in a small kitchen, why not take a short break from Aburaage and check out our tips on making a small kitchen look bigger?
Best Ways to Enjoy Your Frozen Aburaage
Now that you have heaps of this savory delight stored up in the freezer, why not check out some ideas on how to actually consume it afterwards? These are some of the best ways to have aburaage!
- Whip up some Inariage by simply braising your Aburaage in a mixture which consists of dashi, soy sauce, sugar and sake. This makes for a great snack or side dish!
- Stuff your Aburaage pockets with vinegar-seasoned cooked sushi rice then steam to make scrumptious Inarizushi.
- Stuff the Aburaage pocket with yummy mochi for a sweet treat.
- Or simply slice your Aburaage into thin strips (or the size of your choice!) and top over hot miso soup.
- Alternatively, go for completely new and mix flavors from different parts of the world. Aburaage tastes great when filling it with some homemade hummus – trust us! (Not to mention the fact that you can actually freeze hummus for a complete, easy to prepare treat!)
While there are many tried and tested and distinctively Japanese ways to enjoy your Aburaage, because tofu is such a good medium for absorbing flavor, many people form across the globe have adapted their own versions of what to stuff in a Aburaage pocket.
There have been sightings of ham and cheese stuffed Aburaage and pizza versions of it. The fusion possibilities are endless.
Preparing your own Aburaage is also advantageous if you are vegan or prefer gluten-free food. Some store bought Aburaage are already seasoned and these may not be friendly to a gluten-free or vegan diet.
Now that we know how simple and easy it is to prepare Aburaage from firm tofu – plus how simple it is to store Aburaage in the freezer, what are we waiting for?
No need to wait in line at those packed restaurants or order takeaway. No more store-bought Aburaage! This tasty treat can only be just a few minutes!