Bento filler: Green beans and aburaage (fried tofu skins)


I swear this site has not gone all vegetarian - I’ll have some recipes for you omnivores soon! Still, now that the weather is so sunny and beautiful here, and with the abundance of great produce, it just seems easier to think up vegetable recipes. This one can be used as a filler or a vegan main in a bento, and is dead easy to make - and it just uses four ingredients! The main ones are fresh green beans and aburaage, deep fried tofu skins. No oil is added, since we utilize the residual oil on the aburaage instead. This dish keeps quite well in the refrigerator, so you can make a batch and use it throughout the week.

Recipe: Stir-fried green beans and aburaage (fried tofu skins)

This makes about 6 servings when used as a vegan main, with 50 calories per serving; all the calories basically come from the aburaage.

  • 1 packet of aburaage (they usually contain 3 per pack, and can be found in the frozen or refrigerated section of a Japanese grocery store)
  • About 225 g / 8 oz or so of fresh green beans; I used the thin kind called haricot verts in the UK/US (which just means ‘green beans’ in French), but any kind of fresh green beans will do. (You could use frozen green beans, though they won’t be as good of course.)
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • A pinch of dried chili pepper flakes. Alternatively you can use ichimi tohgarashi or shichimi/nanami tohgarashi instead if you have one of them around for your udon and soba - see Essential Japanese ingredients

Cut the aburaage into thin strips. Do not blanch the aburaage; this goes against the usual advice given for dealing with aburaage, and against the advice I’ve given you before - see inarizushi redux. But hey, rules are made to be broken sometimes! As you cut the aburaage, you will notice that your hands get a bit oily. We’ll be using this oil as the cooking oil for the whole dish.

Wash and cut off the tops and tails of the green beans. If needed, slice them in half.

Heat up a non-stick frying pan or wok. Add the aburaage strips, and stir fry until the strips get a bit crispy. The pan should be a bit oily at this point, from the oil in the skins.

Add the green beans, and lower the heat to about medium. Stir fry a little, then put on a lid and steam-cook for about 3-4 minutes until the green beans are crisp-tender.

Remove the lid and turn the heat up again. Add the soy sauce to the hot surface of the pan, not directly onto the green beans, so that you see and smell the soy sauce sizzle. Rapidly stir fry so the soy sauce coats everything.

Add the red chili pepper flakes or ichimi tohgarashi powder. Taste, and add a bit more if you like it spicier, or a bit more soy sauce.

Let cool before packing into a bento box.

This will keep for up to a week, well covered, in the refrigerator.


Add a few drops of dark sesame oil when you are sautéing the aburaage, for that toasty flavor it gives.

You could, in a pinch, use pre-cooked canned inarizushi skins…but since they are already stewed, they may sort of disintegrate if you put them in first. If you use the canned skins, sauté your green beans first in a little oil, then add the strips of inarizushi skin later. You may want to use the can liquid instead of soy sauce. But do try to get unstewed aburaage for this, since it will be way better.

The biggest aburaage I’ve ever seen

I made this particular batch with some fresh aburaage that my intrepid mother brought with her all the way from Japan. She’s holding up a couple of them up here - just look at the size of them! They are at least as big as four regular aburaage skins.


We used the middle bits for the green bean stir fry, and the end pieces to make some inarizushi. The skins were a tad oily and quite puffy, since they are virtually handmade by a small tofu shop in Kyoto. The inarizushi were quite spectacular - very puffy and beany, in a good way.


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Re: Bento filler: Green beans and aburaage (fried tofu ...

Sounds yummy! Dunno if I can find aburaage here in town. Will be hunting for them online to try this recipe. ;)

Re: Bento filler: Green beans and aburaage (fried tofu ...

Wow! Them's some HUUUUUUGE aburaage! Will have to get some aburaage in and try this recipe - it looks nice and summery.

Re: Bento filler: Green beans and aburaage (fried tofu ...

That's amazing! Another simple and useful recipe.

Re: Bento filler: Green beans and aburaage (fried tofu ...

Since you mention it - I picked up two bottles of spice powder. One labeled shichimi togarashi the other labeled nanami togarashi. From reading the ingredient labels (translated from Japanese to English by the maufacturer) the ingredients are the same, just one uses white sesame and the other uses black sesame. Is there a difference?

nanami, shichimi, ichimi

I think there was a discussion about this some time ago (though I can't remember on what post); anyway, it's just a matter of how you read the kanji character for seven, 七 in 七味唐辛子 - it can be read as shichi or nana, hence shichimi tohgarashi or nanami tohgarashi. Whereas, ichimi tohgarashi is written 一味唐辛子, which means one flavor chili pepper - i.e. it just has one ingredient/flavor, chili pepper, vs. shichimini/nanami which has seven ingredients including chili pepper.

Re: Bento filler: Green beans and aburaage (fried tofu ...

don't forget that here in the states the aburaage can be found in cans at oriental markets-marinated of course and in a sweet/salty sauce, often w/msg but still more common than plain fried dofu skins.

Re: Bento filler: Green beans and aburaage (fried tofu ...

Wow, this recipe looks amazing! Actually, I just stumbled on your site today and I think bento boxes will swiftly become my new obsession. This recipe looks particularly good, as green beans are my favorite food. However, I keep strictly kosher so finding something like aburaage is a bit difficult. Has anyone here seen it? Know how I can make it myself? Know of an alternative?

Thanks! I can't wait to explore the rest of this site :D

Re: Bento filler: Green beans and aburaage (fried tofu ...

Hmm...well in principle, aburaage would be kosher-certifiable I think, since it's all vegetable based (tofu, vegetable oil) and never, as far as I know, goes anywhere near dairy or any kind of meat and so on. I guess the issue would be to get a rabbi to certify it as such...not many rabbis are around in Japan ^_^; Making your own tofu is possible (see my tofu how-to on Just Hungry) but aburaage seems to require a special process to make it form that pocket in the middle.

Re: Bento filler: Green beans and aburaage (fried tofu ...

I tried this recipe last night but with a few changes. I couldn't find aburaage at my local asian market, so I used a tofu cutlet instead. I also added the sesame oil you mention and some sesame seeds. It turned out really good, the tofu is flavorful.

Re: inariage instead of aburaage?

This seems a great recipe! I have 2 packets of inariage that I need to use up quickly (and also some yardlong beans waiting in the fridge). I guess I could use those instead of aburaage? I have never seen the latter in Holland... The inariage are 'marinated' but I hope that won't matter too much.

Re: Bento filler: Green beans and aburaage (fried tofu ...

We finally have aburaage where I live! Our stores tailor to the Chinese/Korean populations mainly, but I'm happy to report that this summer I have come across dashi in the block, dashi flakes, dashimoto, and aburaage!

*happydance* I can finally try this recipe. Shame on you for corrupting the American youth maki- I can make your dishes better than spaghetti bolognese, and my hambaaga is far better than my hamburgers. :)

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