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About abura-age Edit
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Aburage (properly called abura-age = 油揚げ) is a Japanese food product made from soybeans. It is produced by cutting tofu into thin slices and deep frying it. Aburage is often used to wrap inarizushi (稲荷寿司), and is added to miso soup. It is also added to udon noodle dishes which are called kitsune-udon because of legends that foxes (kitsune) like deep-fried tofu. Aburage can also be stuffed e.g. with natto before frying again. There is a thicker variety known as atsuage (厚揚げ).
The Japanese were the first to develop tofu pouches, which are the most sophisticated of all tofu products in terms of complexity of the production. However little is known of their early history. The tofu Hyakuchin of 1782 (Abe 1972) gave a recipe for deep-fried tofu, but it is not clear if it puffed up like a tofu pouch. It is known that tofu pouches existed by 1853, when Inari-zushi (tofu pouch filled with vinegared rice) originated (Ichiyama 1968). Because of their long storage life, light weight, and complexity of production, tofu pouches lend themselves to large-scale factory production and widespread distribution. By 1974 large factories were using 2 metric tons of soybeans a day to make 116,600 tofu pouches. By 1980 huge modern factories produced 300,000 to 450,000 pouches a day using conveyorized deep-fryers. At this time roughly one third of the soybeans consumed for tofu in Japan were for deep-fried tofu and an estimated 85% of this was for tofu pouches.