Hey meat eaters – stay with me here. I know tofu has a bad wrap outside of the veg world, but the problem is that most people don’t know how to prepare it. Heck, I’ve even had gross tofu in restaurants. Yes, I’m admitting that it can definitely be gross, which is why you should trust me that I can make it awesome.
Another barrier to tofu acceptance – its appearance. I know that the block it comes in looks unnatural, but I assure you that tofu is as natural as it gets. Tofu is simply soybeans, water, and a coagulant of some sort. Then, it’s pressed into the signature block shape. What you do with that shape, well that’s where the fun begins.
I’ve used tofu in a couple of recipes on this blog, but as a supporting ingredient, like in Pad Thai or Lettuce Wraps. In this post, I’m going to give you a way to prepare tofu so it’s the star of the show. Vegetarians should get to have a big chunk of protein shine on their plates once in a while too, you know?
Peanut Crusted Tofu
Adapted from Cooking Light.
Makes 8 triangles
- 14-ounces extra firm tofu
- 1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts
- 2 slices whole wheat bread
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 3/4 cup flour
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 cup light coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Cut the block of tofu in half, and then cut each half in half. Cut a diagonal line across each piece, to create a triangle. Layer 3 paper towels underneath the pieces, and three on top. Place something heavy on top of the tofu (I placed my George Foreman grill on top of a cutting board).
Use a food processor to turn the bread slices into breadcrumbs. Pour into a shallow bowl and set aside. Add the peanuts to a food processor and pulse until they’re very fine. You want to have the peanuts and the breadcrumbs to be about the same size. Stir together the breadcrumbs, peanuts, and garlic salt.
Whisk together the egg whites and the coconut milk together. Set up an assembly line of sorts, with the flour in the first bowl, the egg/coconut milk mixture in the second, and the breadcrumb/peanut mixture as the third.
Dip each piece of tofu first in the flour, then in the egg whites, and finally in the peanuts and breadcrumbs. Make sure all sides are well coated with each dunking. Your hands will be messy. Get over it.
Bake the tofu for 12-15 minutes, flipping halfway through. This will help firm-up the tofu so the textural complaints common with tofu (spongy, too soft, etc.) will no longer be an issue.
Then, crisp up the coating. Heat up half a tablespoon of sesame oil in a large fry pan. Add 4 of the tofu triangles, and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until sizzling and golden. After you wrap up the first batch, add the remaining sesame oil, and repeat the cooking process with the rest of the tofu triangles.
I served two triangles beside a simple side salad, but the possibilities are endless. Throw them on top of some thai noodles, add them to a stir fry, start with thinner slices and stack them on a sandwich to add some crunch.
The triangles are crunchy, salty, and FILLING. I had two triangles and was all done. Well, I had some Cinnamon Toast Crunch at like 11 that night, but that’s just what I do.
The boy was out-of-town when I made these guys, so I don’t have his carnivorous opinion, but I do have my skeptical vegetarian take to share. Since I’ve had tofu experiences I’d rather not recount, I prepared myself for disappointment with these triangles. After all, these pieces were thicker than any tofu I’d worked with before, and that can lead to texture trouble.
With one bite, my worries vanished. I was blown away by how the combination of baking and light frying could transform tofu into an entree-worthy ingredient.
Obviously, if you’re into the whole meat thing, you could use this same process to prepare chicken, fish, etc. For this vegetarian, however, it was fun to have a crunchy, coated protein-centered meal. So, haters, what do you think? Would you take on tofu as a main ingredient?