Is agedashi tofu good for you?

What is Agedashi Tofu?

Agedashi tofu is a Japanese dish made by deep frying tofu and serving it in a hot broth. The name “agedashi” comes from the Japanese words “ageru” meaning “to fry” and “dashi” which refers to the broth the fried tofu is served in.

The tofu is usually cut into cubes or rectangular blocks, dredged in potato or corn starch, then deep fried until golden brown and crispy on the outside. The fried tofu is then placed in a bowl of dashi broth made with kombu (dried kelp) and katsuobushi (bonito flakes). The broth is hot which allows the tofu to absorb more flavor. Agedashi tofu is usually garnished with green onion, grated daikon radish, and grated ginger.

Nutritional Profile of Agedashi Tofu

Tofu is made from soybeans which are an excellent source of protein, containing all the essential amino acids needed by the body. A 3 ounce serving of firm tofu contains about:

  • Calories: 70
  • Protein: 7g
  • Fat: 4g
  • Carbohydrates: 2g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Calcium: 120mg

Tofu is also a good source of iron, manganese, selenium, phosphorous, magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamin B1. It’s low in sodium and contains zero cholesterol.

The potato or corn starch used to coat the tofu adds some carbohydrates and calories. Frying the tofu adds more fat and calories, about 50-90 extra calories per 3 ounces of tofu depending on the amount of oil used.

The dashi broth is very low in calories but provides minerals like potassium, magnesium and copper. Overall, a serving of agedashi tofu contains about:

  • 150-200 calories
  • 10-12g protein
  • 8-12g fat
  • 10-15g carbs
  • 2-3g fiber

So while fried, the agedashi tofu is still relatively low in calories and fat compared to other fried items. The protein helps keep you full while the minerals benefit your body.

Health Benefits of Agedashi Tofu

Here are some of the top health benefits associated with eating agedashi tofu:

1. Excellent Source of Plant-Based Protein

The protein in tofu comes entirely from plants. Tofu contains all 9 essential amino acids needed to form complete protein for muscle synthesis and tissue repair. The protein content helps you feel satiated after eating tofu as well.

2. Provides Probiotics

The process of making tofu involves fermenting soybeans which produces probiotics. Consuming probiotic-rich foods benefits digestive and immune health. The probiotics can also improve mineral absorption.

3. Rich in Calcium

Calcium is essential for bone health and a serving of tofu contains 8-10% of the RDI for calcium. The calcium in tofu may be better absorbed than dairy as it lacks the protein casein. Getting enough calcium reduces risk of osteoporosis.

4. Contains Antioxidants

Soybeans contain antioxidant compounds like isoflavones, saponins, phytosterols and phytic acid. These antioxidants protect cells from damage and can reduce inflammation in the body.

5. May Lower Cholesterol

Several studies have found that eating soy foods like tofu can lower LDL cholesterol levels. This is likely due to the isoflavones which can improve cholesterol metabolism. Less LDL cholesterol reduces heart disease risk.

6. Promotes Heart Health

In addition to lowering cholesterol, the isoflavones in soy foods like tofu can help dilate blood vessels. This improves circulation and blood flow. Soy protein has also been found to lower blood pressurelevels slightly.

7. Can Support Weight Loss

The protein and fiber content of tofu helps you feel fuller for longer after eating it, preventing overeating and snacking between meals. Protein requires more energy to digest compared to carbs or fat. This can increase calorie burn after meals.

8. May Reduce Menopause Symptoms

For middle-aged women, consuming soy isoflavones from foods like tofu may help reduce hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Soy isoflavones act like weak estrogens which can replace declining estrogen levels.

9. Contains Vitamins and Minerals

Agedashi tofu provides B vitamins like folate, manganese, selenium, phosphorous and copper. These vitamins and minerals support energy metabolism, bone health, thyroid function, DNA synthesis and red blood cell formation.

10. Easy to Add to Vegetarian/Vegan Diet

For those following meatless diets, tofu is an easy way to add plant-based protein. It readily absorbs flavors from sauces and seasonings. Agedashi tofu can provide variety when transitioning to more plant-based meals.

Potential Downsides of Agedashi Tofu

Agedashi tofu has relatively few downsides, especially when consumed in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet. Here are a couple things to be mindful of:

High in Sodium

The dashi broth tends to be high in sodium content. Too much sodium can increase blood pressure and risk of heart disease. Those with hypertension may need to limit their intake.

Contains Phytic Acid

Soybeans contain phytic acid which can bind to minerals like iron, zinc and calcium and inhibit their absorption. For most people eating a varied diet this is not a major concern.


Some people are allergic to soy and need to avoid agedashi tofu. Soy allergies are more common in children but some adults are affected too. Lactose intolerant individuals can usually tolerate soft tofu.


Most soybean crops grown in the U.S. are genetically modified. If you wish to avoid GMOs, choose organic tofu made from non-GMO soybeans. Tofu labeling is not always clear so check with manufacturers.

Fried Variation Less Healthy

The fried preparation of agedashi tofu adds more fat, calories and sodium. Enjoy fried tofu occasionally as part of a healthy diet or use an air fryer to reduce the oil.

How Often Can You Eat Agedashi Tofu?

For most healthy individuals, eating agedashi tofu 2 to 3 times per week is perfectly fine. Feel free to enjoy it more frequently if using a lighter cooking method like grilling or baking instead of frying. Those with soy allergies or digestive issues related to FODMAPs may need to avoid it.

As with any food, it’s ideal to have a variety in your diet and not eat the same dish at every meal. Rotate agedashi tofu with other healthy protein sources like fish, beans, nuts, eggs, chicken or vegetarian meat substitutes.

Is Agedashi Tofu Suitable for Special Diets?

Here’s how agedashi tofu may fit into special diets:


Most agedashi tofu is naturally gluten-free, just confirm the tofu and broth ingredients. Watch for gluten in the thickness like soy sauce.

Paleo Diet:

Soft tofu is allowed but the potato starch breading would be avoided on the paleo diet. Substitute the starch with almond or coconut flour.

Keto Diet:

Plain tofu is very low carb but the starch coating adds too many carbs for keto. Use toasted sesame oil or almond flour instead.


Agedashi tofu is vegetarian and can be a vegan dish if dashi broth avoids fish ingredients. It’s an excellent protein source for plant-based diets.


Tofu and broth are both low FODMAP but garlic and onion commonly added could be an issue. Check ingredients or make homemade FODMAP-friendly.

Low Sodium:

Request a low sodium broth or make your own sodium-reduced dashi to allow agedashi tofu to fit a low sodium diet.

So with some modifications to ingredients, agedashi tofu can be adapted to fit many different dietary preferences and restrictions.

Tips for Cooking Agedashi Tofu at Home

Here are some tips for making flavorful agedashi tofu at home:

– Press the tofu first to remove excess water. This helps it crisp up better when fried. Place tofu slices between paper towels weighted down for 30 minutes.

– Corn or potato starch creates the lightest coating. Mix with a little flour for crispiest results. Rice flour also works well.

– Use a neutral oil with high smoke point like canola or vegetable oil for frying. Temperature should be 350-375°F.

– Fry the tofu in batches to maintain oil temperature. Don’t overcrowd the pan.

– Make the dashi broth using kombu seaweed, bonito flakes and shiitake mushrooms for fullest umami flavor.

– Add ginger, green onion, shichimi, grated daikon and sake to the broth for extra flavor.

– Let the just fried tofu sit in the hot broth for 2-3 minutes so it can soak up maximum dashi flavor.

– Serve agedashi tofu hot with freshly cooked Japanese short grain rice to balance the textures.

Finding Agedashi Tofu When Dining Out

Agedashi tofu is a common appetizer served at most Japanese restaurants. Look for it on menus at:

– Izakayas – Japanese gastropubs serving small plates like agedashi tofu along with drinks

– Sushi restaurants – Many list ageashi tofu as one of their appetizer choices

– Ramen shops – Fried tofu makes a nice accompaniment to a big bowl of ramen

– Hibachi restaurants – Where you can get teppanyaki grilled agedashi tofu with rice

– Japanese buffets – Fryer items like agedashi tofu are usually part of the buffet

Check the menu for descriptions like “fried tofu in broth” or “fried tofu with tempura”. Veggie tempura combinations may also come with agedashi tofu pieces mixed in the fryer basket.

Simple Agedashi Tofu Recipe

This easy agedashi tofu recipe serves 2 as a light appetizer or side:

– 1 block firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
– 1⁄4 cup potato starch
– 3 cups vegetable oil for frying
– 2 cups dashi broth or vegetable broth
– 1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
– 1 tsp grated ginger
– 2 green onions, thinly sliced
– Shichimi or red pepper flakes (optional)

1. Drain tofu block and cut into 1-inch cubes. Place cubes between paper towels weighted down for 30 minutes to press out moisture.
2. Place potato starch in shallow bowl. Dredge tofu cubes in starch, coating all sides.
3. Heat oil in medium pot to 350°F. Fry coated tofu in batches 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
4. Heat dashi or vegetable broth with soy sauce and ginger in small saucepan until simmering.
5. Add fried tofu cubes and let sit 1-2 minutes to absorb flavors.
6. Transfer tofu to serving bowls with broth. Garnish with green onion and shichimi if desired.

The Bottom Line

Agedashi tofu made by deep frying tofu and serving it in a savory dashi broth is delicious and nutritious. The protein, probiotics and minerals in tofu paired with antioxidants make it a healthy choice. Enjoy agedashi tofu moderately as part of a balanced diet. Make it yourself at home or look for it on the menu when dining out at a Japanese restaurant. With its crispy fried exterior and silken interior soaked in umami-rich broth, agedashi tofu is a Japanese comfort food you’re sure to enjoy.

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