Thursday, April 25, 2013

Vegan Friendly “Southern Fried” Tofu


A couple years ago, I encountered multiple articles where doctors recommend that we eat an “80% vegetarian diet”.  This means while enjoying animal protein from time to time, we should get away from meat-driven meals.  Animal proteins are the source of cholesterol, and are more difficult to digest than plant-based foods.  So I decided to learn more about vegetarian and vegan cooking. 

I saw American Idol Ruben Studdard on The Wendy Williams Show a couple years ago, after he had recently embraced a vegan lifestyle.  His remark that he still enjoyed Soul Food and Southern Comfort Food intrigued me.  I set out to find recipes for vegan versions of classics like fried fish and fried chicken.  Most use “imitation meat” products like seitan, tempeh, and tofu.  I gathered a small collection of recipes that seemed to have merit. 

I found a recipe for “Southern Fried Tofu” from theBookOfYum blog.  I don’t think it tasted anything like fried chicken, but I did enjoy it.  The recipe calls for nutritional yeast with seasonings as a coating for the tofu.  The originator of the recipe loved this fried tofu so much that her family took nutritional yeast with them to Japan when they moved there, so they could continue to enjoy Southern Fried Tofu.  Her family ate this over mashed potatoes or with sautéed greens. 


1 lb firm tofu

Cooking oil such as olive oil


Flour coating: 

½ cup brown rice flour, sorghum or white rice flour


Dipping Mix: 

½ cup low-fat non dairy milk (dairy works too)

½ Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar


Seasoning Mix: 

¾ cups nutritional yeast (Fluffy yellow flakes.  At “health food stores” this is in the bulk food section.)

1 tsp salt

½ tsp each:  garlic granules and onion granules

¼ tsp each:  paprika, dried tarragon, dried dill weed, dried basil leaves, dried oregano leaves, curry powder

1/8 tsp each:  dry mustard, ground rosemary, chipotle pepper



Pressing Your Tofu

Most recipes for frying, baking or “barbecuing” tofu specify to press the tofu first.  This makes for a more dense texture.  It’s really easy but can be intimidating when you first read it.  I have step by step photos for this in my blog post, How to Press Tofu.  Alternatively, some sources recommend slicing and freezing the tofu.  This changes the texture too.  Thaw the tofu and use in your recipe. 


Prepare Flour Coating, Dipping Liquid, and Seasoning Mix

1- Pour flour into a small shallow dish or pan, like a wide soup bowl or small pie plate. 

2- Pour milk substitute in another shallow dish.  Add acid (lemon juice or vinegar) to make “buttermilk”. 

3- Measure nutritional yeast flakes into a third shallow dish.  Add seasoning spices and stir to combine.  Don’t let it stop you if you don’t have or don’t like all of these spices.  Use what you have. 

4- Line up your dishes in order:  Plate with tofu, flour dish, dipping liquid, then seasoned coating mix, then frying pan. 

Coat, Dip, Coat Again, and Fry

1- Place tofu triangles or rectangles in flour one or two at a time.  Turn to coat both sides. 

2- Place floured tofu in liquid.  Turn to coat both sides. 

3- Place tofu in seasoned nutritional yeast flakes.  Turn to coat both sides. 

4- Place battered tofu in preheated oil in a skillet. 

5- Minimize turning to prevent losing coating.  Fry 2-3 minutes on each side.  Remove tofu to drain on paper towel.  Take another towel and pat tops to absorb excess oil. 

A Few Notes

The recipe originator said the seasoning mix was more than enough for two batches of tofu.  I went ahead and cut the recipe in half.  I still had plenty of the nutritional yeast mixture.  There would probably be enough for another small package of tofu. 

I read recently that the nutritional yeast gives dishes a cheesy flavor.  I think that’s fair to say.  The finished product actually reminded me of my Parmesan Chicken. 

I was initially reluctant about tofu because I am a bit fussy about food texture.  I found that I haven’t minded the texture at all in the things I’ve tried so far!  I think the pressing helps.  With the Southern Fried Tofu, I liked the texture best after it had cooled off a bit. 

1 comment:

  1. Yes, pressing helps the texture of tofu. I use the EZ Tofu Press to get the water out of firm and extra firm tofu...I find that it improves the texture and allows better flavor absorption. Best of all it only takes 10-15 minutes to press! Recipe looks really good!!!!