Aburaage is a food consisting of sliced tofu (bean curd) fried in oil.
It is sometimes idiomatically called 'aburage' or 'age.'
Unlike namaage (thick, fried bean curd), aburaage is made of thinly sliced bean curd and is fried through to the inside. Aburaage is also called "usuage" (thin, fried bean curd) in contrast to "atsuage" (thick, fried bean curd). In some regions, it is called "inariage" (as a thin, fried bean curd used for wrapping inari-zushi or flavored boiled rice) and also "sushiage" (the same, being used to wrap sushi or vinegared boiled rice).
Solid tofu made from thin soybean milk is sliced into slender blocks like kaku-mochi (rectangular rice cakes), which are then fried twice in hot oil, first at low temperature from 110 to 120 degrees centigrade and again at high temperature from 180 to 200 degrees centigrade, in order to make aburaage. Rapeseed oil is generally used in the frying process. Aburaage can be used for various dishes, thanks to its feature of easily drawing in broth and the like, and to its pouched form, which is convenient for wrapping other food ingredients.
Kinds of aburaage
Like tofu, aburaage has a variety of sizes, shapes, thickness and other characteristics, according to the region.
Usuage - Aburaage
Sankakkei (triangular) aburaage produced in the region of Mt.Jogi, in Miyagi Prefecture.
(Commonly known as "Sankaku Jogiage")
In Tsuruoka City (Shonai region) in Yamagata Prefecture, the term "aburaage" generally indicates atsuage, while thin, fried bean curd is called "usuage" or "kawaage" (literally, "skin-like fried bean curd").
Aburaage made from tofu produced in the Tochio area of Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture, is locally called 'aburage,' which is thicker than standard aburaage. This can not only be used as a cooking ingredient but is also often served as-is, being a roasted snack with an aroma.
In Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture, people preserve dried aburaage, called "Matsuyama-age," as a nonperishable food.
In the district of Maruoka Town, Sakai City, Fukui Prefecture, aburaage has been popularly eaten since the Taisho period. At one time, people used to dedicate aburaage to Eiheiji Temple. Even today, aburaage made in the Takeda district, is considerably large in size and thickness compared to the standard type.
Cuisines that use quantities of aburaage
Misoshiru (miso soup)
Kitsune-udon (wheat noodles in soup, topped with deep-fried bean curd) and kitsune-soba (buckwheat noodles in soup, topped with deep-fried bean curd)
Takikomi-gohan (boiled rice seasoned with soy sauce and mixed with meat or seafood and savory vegetables)
Sushi (Inari-zushi) (flavored or vinegared boiled rice wrapped in fried bean curd)
A phrase saying 'aburaage is taken away by a flying kit' is an analogy used to explain the fact that some very important item has suddenly been snatched away.
Because aburaage is popularly believed to be 'a favorite food of the fox,' people are accustomed to offering aburaage to the fox deities of local shrines.
Any dish that uses aburaage as an ingredient is called "shinoda" in the Kansai region, referring to the legend of a fox that lived in the Shinoda Forest according to the folk story, 'Kuzunoha.'