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favourite tofu + cooking for kids


This is the tofu that finally made me eat the stuff. Approaching it previously, the texture always seemed a bit funny to me. Then I had a tasty little rice bowl at a Toronto veggie restaurant and everything changed. It featured these little cubes of golden brown, crispy tofu heaven. There’s so much flavour and crunch going on from a little marinating and a wholesome roll in wheat germ, nutritional yeast and spices.

This stuff is so appealing that I’ve had no trouble getting younger and more squeamish populations to eat it. I used to spend some time helping with an after school program at a community food centre and garden when I lived in the city. The kids’ and teens’ activities always centered around making, eating, growing or learning about food (so cool right?). We were setting up a little salad bar for a bunch of the participants when we realized there was some tofu to use up in the fridge. I knew exactly what we had to do. We got into the kitchen and all of the hands started cutting and coating the pieces. We started to hear some loud, happy voices and quick footsteps coming in from the gardens outside. It was almost time to eat.

I’m not even exaggerating here: they were actually fighting for the last piece! It was an amazing sight, all of these youths gladly adorning their salads with morsels of locally sourced, wheat germ-coated plant protein. Unreal! There’s so much potential bundled up in the act of making food and sharing it with others, especially with the young and slightly more impressionable ones. Once they learn the skills to make it, they can pass it on to their family, and then it goes on again, then maybe off to someone else… A few weeks later, when asked what their favourite food from the program was so far, one sweet young lady quickly raised her hand and proclaimed “Crispy tofu!!” I was beaming with pride


crispy tofu
adapted from fresh at home
serves: 4-6
notes: You’ve got to press the tofu. Once all of the tofu-y water is out of it, the texture is so much more agreeable and pleasant. I used chickpea flour in the coating, but any type would work. Typically, I enjoy these with brown rice, steamed greens and some herbs or cut tomatoes or something. They’re delicious on salad or solo with a bit of hot sauce too.

marinade:
1/2 cup tamari
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup filtered water
2 tbsp olive oil

coating:
1 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup flour of your choice
2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp smoked paprika

1 (227g) package firm or extra-firm tofu
2 tbsp grape seed or other heat-tolerant oil (sunflower, canola etc)

Press the tofu: cut the slab into 1/2 inch thick pieces, crosswise (shorter pieces). Lay a kitchen towel across a cutting board and place the tofu pieces across the surface. Fold the towels over top, place a large book or another cutting board over towels. Place something heavy on top to draw out the moisture in the tofu. Leave this setup for about half an hour.

In the meantime, mix all of the marinade ingredients in one dish and all of the coating ingredients in another.

Remove tofu pieces from pressing setup, cut them in half and place in the dish with marinade mixture and cover. Leave this for at least 15 minutes. If marinating for longer than half an hour, place in the fridge.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Remove tofu pieces from marinade and toss in the coating mixture, shaking off excess. Place tofu pieces in the hot oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Rotate the pan around to encourage even browning. Flip pieces with tongs once browned on one side. When thoroughly browned on both sides, remove from pan onto a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining pieces. Serve immediately.

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stacy17/11/2011 - 1:18 pm

are you talking about the tofu at fresh by chance? I’m going to try this tonight!

Laura17/11/2011 - 6:40 pm

Yes that’s it! Love love love it in the ninja rice bowls.

stacy17/11/2011 - 10:20 pm

I know! Fresh works magic with tofu. I’m not normally into soy products that try to taste like meat but I swear some of their tofu tastes like fried chicken…in the best way…
Love your blog!

Mandiee24/05/2012 - 1:49 am

Wow, this tofu looks great! I always love making vegan food for my fellow teenagers. It’s so rewarding when they gobble it up and ask for more. For a gluten-free option, can wheat germ be subbed out? What would you recommend using it its place? Thanks!

Laura25/05/2012 - 7:28 am

Hi Mandiee,
I would use a fine-textured gluten free bread crumb, ground GF oats or ground flax in place of the wheat germ. Just depends on your preference.
-L

Nikolina07/05/2013 - 8:24 pm

This is so wonderful! I made your citrus-ginger dressing carrot & edamame salad on the side and some sushi rice. This is perfection!
I wish you could adopt me and teach me everything you know! :) I am such a fan!

Claire04/06/2013 - 8:40 pm

yum! We used almond meal in place of wheat germ/flour. These were delis! Could you bake them instead of pan-frying?

Laura Wright05/06/2013 - 6:38 am

Hi Claire, love that almond meal idea. I think you could bake these, as long as you place them on a rack while they bake. Just to avoid any stickiness and to get the pieces as crispy as possible.
-L

Michele Yax25/08/2013 - 11:56 am

Love this I use frozen tofu and bake on a cookie sheet Or you can cut them larger for a sandwich. start the kids early with TOFU and they will love it

Britt09/04/2014 - 10:38 pm

This is hands down the best tofu recipe I’ve tried…thank you. Even my devout meat eater roommate cannot get enough of it. I’ve run out of certain ingredients and substituted others and it still tastes great.

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