Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Crispy Tofu #vegan

I like texture. I like the variety of textures that the vegan/plants only experience provides for our family. We eat a lot of foods that are crispy and crunchy.  We eat a few foods that are smooth and creamy.  Some foods simply melt in our mouths.  Like an overly ripe avocado.  I love that experience.

My family and I used to eat a dish called Tonkatsu. This is usually made with pork or chicken and served with a delicious sauce.  Obviously, we don't eat pork or chicken anymore but that doesn't mean we can't find a substitute for the experience of eating something cut into slices and dipped in sauce.  

I use Panko crumbs to create a crispy exterior and the tofu, when prepared properly, leaves us with a firm center....almost like a chicken nugget.  The Nutritional Yeast adds flavor.  It reminds me of a woodsy parmesan flavor.  The link will take you to information about the benefits of using nutritional yeast in your cooking experience as a vegan family.  I use it daily in a variety of dishes, sauces, and now, as a breading.

Let me get off topic for a minute. I used the words chicken nugget and I know this ruffles some people in the vegan/plant based community a bit because we have given up meat/animal products so why are we trying to replace these recipes in our menu planning.  Personally, I don't see it this way. I am not trying to replace the meat experience, just the crispy texture of some foods we ate before. To make it easier for you, the reader, to understand the texture of this dish, I use terms like chicken nugget to help you visualize what you will end up with after making this recipe. It's a label to allow us to communicate, especially, if you are new to this vegan journey. My kids don't want to eat meat and I don't buy vegan hot dogs, vegan lunch meat, or vegan bacon, etc.... Mostly because they don't taste anything like the original and often times, they don't taste good to me. We are still on our journey to go without overly processed foods. I see these replacements as very processed foods that I prefer to not buy. This does not mean that we haven't tried them. We did in the beginning. We needed the products to help us transition to where we are right now. Our family just didn't care for them enough to keep buying them. 

Our son came to dinner the other night with his girlfriend.  I made these for him. I didn't mention that it was tofu. The first words out of his mouth were, "Mom you made chicken?" 

 I laughed.  "Nope. TOFU!"  He smiled, took another bite, and said they were great.


So, there you have it. Even though we don't eat meat anymore, my family remembers meat and remembers the texture and the yummy dish we once ate together.  I was able to recreate a memory without using animal products.  

I like that.

Crispy Tofu #vegan
1 block of tofu makes 8-12 slices, depends on how thick you cut them


1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon onion powder
1-2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
1/4 cup non dairy milk (Almond, Soy, or Cashew all work)
1 package Firm Organic Tofu
Olive oil spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. About 30 minutes before you make the dish you want to prepare the tofu.  This is done by removing the tofu from the packaging, wrapping it in a dish cloth, placing something heavy on top of it, and letting it sit.  You are trying to get some of the moisture out of the block. This creates a nice texture when the tofu is baked.

2.  Combine all of the dry ingredients in a pie plate or something like it. Add the milk to a small bowl.  Remove the tofu from the dish cloth and slice into 1/4 slices. (see picture below).  Dip each slice into the milk then into the breadcrumb mixture.  Try not to shake or everything will fall off.

3.  I use a cookie sheet lined with a cookie rack. Place each piece on the rack. (see picture below). Lightly spray the tops of each slice with the olive oil cooking spray.

4.  Bake for 30-40 minutes. I like the edges to be lightly brown.  Remove from heat and serve.  Cut, slice or serve whole.  I sliced ours for the kids into 8 pieces each.  I serve this with a variety of sauces. We have a deicious Tonkatsu Sauce that we buy from our local store.

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