Teriyaki Tofu Don



Teriyaki tofu don is one of my favourite Japanese dishes. Not only is it cheap at most Japanese restaurants, but it's also a reliable dish to count on, because it doesn't contain any animal products. It is quite hard to establish whether vegetarian dishes in these restaurants are free from animal products, because the chefs add dashi stock to most dishes, a stock usually made with kombu and bonito flakes. To find out if that's the case, it is best to ask the chef if their dashi stock is made with bonito, dried fish flakes from the tuna family.

When I tried my first ever teriyaki tofu, sizzling on a hot cast iron pan served with some vegetables, I was in love. Donburi, 'don' for short, are basically satisfying rice bowls topped with cooked meat, seafood, tofu or vegetables. It is a great  way to serve up teriyaki tofu, though not easily found in Japan if you were to visit the country.

I used this recipe to make the crispy tofu, coating each piece three times in cornflour before frying. You can coat it twice if you want a softer texture, but I like it to have a bit of crunch. I chop my ginger into one inch chunks after peeling, and then freeze them in a container. This method makes it so easy to grate the ginger while frozen.

The recipe for the donburi, not the sauce, makes one serve, and you can easily multiply it by however many serves you require. On the other hand, the teriyaki sauce recipe makes one cup of sauce, which you can then keep in the fridge for a week in an airtight container. I used about half the sauce to make three serves for dinner, and refrigerated the rest. I used frozen stir fry vegetables as they were what I had on hand, but this can be easily made with fresh vegetables cut into bite-size pieces.

Ingredients
For the Sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
2cm piece of frozen ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp cornflour

For the Donburi
120ml uncooked medium-grain rice
Vegetable oil
2 button mushrooms, sliced
100g frozen stirfry vegetables
150g regular tofu
1/3 cup cornflour
1 cup fresh mixed lettuce

Method
1. Wrap the tofu several times in paper towels, and lay a flat item on top, with a heavy object to weigh it down and press the water out. Set aside the tofu while you prepare the rice.
2. Measure out the rice and cook to your preference. I prefer to make my rice in the rice cooker, using a 1:1 rice to water ratio, with a little bit of extra water to make up for evaporation.
3. While the rice is cooking, combine all the sauce ingredients, except the water and cornflour, in a saucepan. In a small bowl, whisk together the water and cornflour until until it is lump free. Add the cornflour mix to the saucepan, and put the pan on medium heat. Continuously whisk the mixture until it boils and thickens. When it can thicken no further, take it off the heat and set aside in a warm place.
4. Remove the tofu from the paper towels, and cut them crosswise so that you have pieces that are roughly 5 x 2.5 x 2.5cm. Coat the tofu with cornflour as per this recipe, coating them three times. Set aside.
5. Place a medium frying pan on medium heat and let it become hot before adding 1-2 tbsp of vegetable oil. Add the frozen vegetables to the pan, along with the mushrooms, and toss with a pair of tongs or a wooden spoon every few minutes or so until cooked. Meanwhile, put a small frying pan on medium heat, and pour in enough oil to coat the bottom.
6. Once the oil is hot enough, and the moisture from the tofu has saturated the cornflour, gently add the tofu into the pan, and fry until lightly golden and crispy, turning every few minutes. Drain on a folded piece of paper towel.
7. Fluff up the rice once cooked, and scoop into a deep bottomed bowl. On one third of the rice, top with fresh salad. On another third, add the vegetables, before placing the tofu the remaining space. Drizzle as much teriyaki sauce as you like over the crispy tofu, and serve. You may sprinkle sesame seeds or sliced spring onion on the top of the tofu for a more authentic flair.



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