Deep-fried, thinly sliced tofu. あぶらあげ、油揚げ
A block of tofu is cut unto slices and these are deep-fried. Other names are "usu-age," "inari-age" and "sushi-age." To be distinguished from atsu-age, where the slice is very thick with on the inside still the fresh tofu.
The heat may make the slices puff up so that inside, a hollow space comes into existence. Such pouches of abura-age are used for making inarizushi.
Fine strips of abura-age can be used in miso soup, udon, soba and all kinds of other dishes. The vegetable oil remaining in the fried tofu gives an interesting heartiness to this product; the taste can best be described as "salty sweetness."
Udon with abura-age is called Kitsune-udon or "Fox udon" because foxes are supposed to be fond of deep-fried tofu. There is also "Kitsune-soba." Kitsune-udon is a dish developed in Osaka. When used for kitsune-udon or kitsune-soba, the abura-age is not cut into strips, but a large slice is used as on the picture below.
[Abura-age slices for use in udon or soba. Photo Ad Blankestijn]