Dengaku is a grilled tofu and vegetable skewer covered with thick sweet and savory miso sauce and is often considered common food. It is believed that the word Dengaku came from “field dance” when a Buddist monk, Dengaku, dressed in a white outfit with a pole and danced in a field praying to god for a rich harvest. His clothes resemble tofu here, and the pole resembles the skewer.
For this recipe, tofu is first fried (and made into atsuage*) to add an extra layer of texture and flavor that is very popular. The sauce also works well on fish, chilled tofu, and steamed vegetables of your choice.
*Atsuage is fried firm tofu often used in simmering dishes and stir fry in Japanese cooking.
- Suribachi and Surikogi (Japanese Mortar and Pestle)
- 8 bamboo skewers (5-6 inch long & flat head)
- Oven with broiler attachment (or a culinary torch)
Ingredients for Atsuage
- 14 oz pack firm tofu cut crosswise into four rectangles
- 2 cups vegetable oil for deep frying tofu
Ingredients for Miso Sauce
- 2 tablespoon sesame seeds natural, toasted
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoon miso yellow or white
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic freshly grated or power
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger freshly grated
- 1/4 cup soy sauce 1/4 cup or less depending on the consistency
- 1 tablespoon mirin sweet rice wine
- chili oil optional
- black sesame seeds for garnish optional
- sansho pepper for garnish optional
Direction for Miso Sauce
- Gather ingredients.
- Grind toasted sesame seeds in Japanese mortar and pestle until smooth.
- Add sugar, miso, garlic, ginger, and grind for some more until ingredients are well incorporated. Scraping the side with a spatula or wooden spoon.
- Add mirin and half of soy sauce and mix well. Check for the thickness and gradually add the rest of the soy sauce until the sauce is thick but easy to spread. Note: make sure the sauce is not too runny, otherwise it will not stick to tofu. Add chili oil if using.
- Store in a clean jar. It will keep for a week in the fridge.
Direction for Atsuage
- In a sink or over a baking dish, press tofu between two cutting boards for 30 minutes to an hour. This is to drain any excess water from the tofu.
- Heat oil in a pot over medium heat until 300 degrees. The oil should be deeper than the thickness of tofu.
- Working one to two tofu at a time, pat dry tofu and gently deep fry until golden brown and crispy on the outside. Repeat until all the tofu has been fried. Drain them on a paper towel and now you have atsuage.
How to make dengaku
- Turn the broiler on to medium-high.
- Once the atsuage is cool enough to handle, slice each atsuage into halves, lengthwise. Skewer each tofu slice with bamboo skewers, facing the sliced side up.
- Spoon the miso sauce on top of each tofu.
- On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil, place skewered tofu. Broil the skewers until the top bubbles and browns a bit. Use a culinary torch to lightly brown the top if not using a broiler.
- Remove from the broiler and sprinkle with sansho pepper or black sesame seeds (optional).