Monday, December 03, 2012
On tofu love, Breaded "Fishy" Nuggets (and a giveaway!)
When we went full vegan my husband (and daughter) struggled with giving up
some things. Okay, I admit until we found Daiya and my kick ass vegan nacho
cheeze recipe I had some issues too. There wasn't much else I couldn't find a
suitable replacement for. Plus, no meat meant more tofu, which I've always
enjoyed when someone who knew what they were doing prepared it (that someone
was NOT me). When I was a vegetarian back in my middle and high school days I
begged my mom to buy some so we could try to prepare it. Epic fail. It was
mooshy and tasteless and we had no idea what the hell we were doing. I assumed
this just meant I did not like tofu. Until I had tofu tod from a local Thai
place. And any tofu dish from any Chinese restaurant. The tofu gods shone down
on me. Buddha's delight indeed. Leah even enjoyed the occasional tempura tofu.
Tim, however, was dead set against it. He was convinced that all these promises
I was making about proper marination and proper pressing creating a tasty,
meaty culinary delight for his tastebuds were bullshit. He wasn't having any of
that mess. Then we went to Disney early this month for my mom and stepdad's
25th wedding anniversary (cue celebratory applause for my momma)....
Eating as a vegan is easy as long as you will ask questions about how
something is prepared (what kind of oil is used, is there butter, etc.) and if
you aren't too timid to ask for replacements and to leave things off. Disney
was BEYOND accomodating. Food & Wine was an event to remember, as it
always is, and the chef's at each country were more than happy to leave off
meat, dairy, and egg ingredients. This year they even had a vegan booth, Terra
(they served Gardein and it was AMAZING). This booth came highly recommended by
each of the other booths, who were mostly omnivores but fully appreciated how
great this food actually was. On this journey, so many Disney employees shared
their own experiences as vegetarians, experiences with vegan and vegetariand
roommates, friends, family...everyone was so kind and went above and beyond for
My favorite experience (other than the great vegan noshes) was when we rode
Soaring, a truly amazing ride. In the same building is a food court with a lot
of international foods, including Chinese. I opted for the tofu (of course) and
Tim couldn't stop staring. They had cut and fried it so it looked just like
nuggets (don't worry, it was tofu). As I always do, I invited him and Leah to
taste off of my plate, promising that they would both love it. And they did.
Tim was shocked by how tasty it was and he was converted. As long as it's
pressed and crispy (he doesn't do mushy- no puddings, no custards...I know,
right?!)...he is now a tofu fan.
Tim's new willingness to eat (properly prepared, crunchy) tofu presented a
new problem because a tofu press was not something I already had in my arsenal
of kitchen gadgets. I didn't even know where to start. There were all plastic
presses that I read broke easily. There were expensive wooden presses which
seemed like they would do the job, but expensive is the key word here, plus I
wondered if a wooden press would warp, collect germs...etc. There was always
the heavy can and paper towel method but I sincerely doubted that it would
extract enough liquid to assuage the hubs' squishy fears without having to
press for hours. Then the clouds parted and there it was...EZ Tofu Press
. As the creator says, it's not
sexy, it's not sleek, but let me tell you it does the job. This baby squeezed
the water out of my tofu harder than an old Italian man squeezes cheeks. I
pressed for only about 15 minutes and the results were amazing. I was dead set
on creating a "shrimp" type nugget (shrimp is one of the few things
left that Tim can't find a suitable replacement for) that Tim would enjoy. I
had always known that tofu would take on the flavors of whatever I wanted to
create, but never had the chance to give it a shot until now. I wasn't thrilled
with the strength of the seafood taste in these, so I would probably switch to
dulse or nori next time to see how that went, and marinate a bit longer,
Breaded "Fishy" Nuggets
1 block light firm tofu (frozen & thawed - don't skip this
step, it helps with the texture immensely
For the marinade
1 tbsp. coconut or almond milk
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. garlc powder
1 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. kelp flakes
1 tsp. rice vinegar (I like to use the garlic seasoned)
Dash of poultry seasoning
For the breading
1 tbsp. egg replacer whisked with 3 tbsp. water
1/2 to 3/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
Salt/pepper to taste
After you've frozen and thawed your tofu (again, DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP), get
out your tofu press (if you don't have one, see below for a chance to win one
just like mine!). Press the tofu for 15-20 minutes in a clean sink or over a
large plate, making sure to check and pour off the water frequently.
Once the tofu is pressed, I like to have the marinade mixed up in the
plastic container the tofu came in. Mix together all of the marinade
ingredients and put the block of tofu right back into the carton, turning a few
times to coat. You can marinate this overnight (probably for the best
"fishy" taste) but when I tested this, I did about 1/2 hour (15
minutes per side). Meanwhile, mix together your breading ingredients in a small
bowl or baggie.
While the tofu is marinating, you can preheat your oven to 375°F and get your cookie sheet
ready. You can line with parchment, or use a silicone mat (or a silicone cookie
sheet!). (I didn't take a picture of the next few steps...oops!)
Take the tofu out of the carton and cut up into whatever size (and shape!) nugget you want. Leah really
likes fun shaped food so if you're introducing this type of nugget to your child for the first time, fun shapes may help make them even more appealing (small cookie cutters do wonders here!).
Mix up the egg replacer and water, and one by one, dip your
"nuggets" into the "egg" mix, then coat in the breading. If
you have any extra at the end, you can double coat them for extra crunchiness
(you just may need more egg replacer to double coat the entire block).
Arrange your nuggets in a single layer on your cookie sheet. (some of mine are unbreaded which is why they look funny). I try my best to avoid adding oils to food, and I've stopped using cooking spray but if you so choose, feel free to spray your nuggets at this point. However, to be totally candid with my opinion, if you're using a silicone mat and flip halfway through, you won't need any oil or cooking spray though.
Bake your fishy nuggets for 15 minutes. Flip over and bake for about 10 minutes
longer. If you want them extra crunchy, turn on the broiler and put your cookie
sheet one rack from the top for about 2-3 minutes (keep an eye on them or they
WILL burn QUICKLY!).
Serve and enjoy! I like to whip up a quick vegan tartar sauce and cocktail
sauce to go with these, or you can let the kiddos dip in some ketchup (unsweetened, of course ;) ).
I'm running a giveaway along with EZ Tofu
. You will win a tofu press just like mine, shipped to your home (if
you live in the contiguous United States).
You can earn up to 5 entries in the contest. I will choose the winner by
random drawing on December 10th and announce it on this blog. Here's how to
- For one entry, tell me (in the comments section below) - what recipe have you been too afraid to try because you didn't have a tofu press in your arsenal of kitchen tools?
- For another entry, share this post on Facebook and leave a link in the comments section.
- For another entry, pin this recipe on Pinterest (make sure to mention the contest!) and leave a link in the comments section.
- For two entries (two!!) write a blog post about this contest and what recipe you can't wait to try if you win. It can be an original recipe of your own creation or you can just talk about a recipe you've had Pinned or bookmarked from another website for a while and haven't tried.
Good luck! Get your entries complete and posted in the comments section below by 11:59 pm EST on Sunday December 9th.
posted by Kristen