Tofu is tough to enjoy. It’s the first thing non-vegans ask about whenever the subject of diet comes up in conversation, and it’s a food that lots of people — vegans and vegetarians included — just can’t get behind. Tofu, on its own, is flavorless and fleshy and usually sopping wet. I’ve spent the last several years learning how to make tofu enjoyable for myself, but in the last few months I’ve been faced with a new task: making tofu enjoyable for other people.
With the help of my partner (who prior to this prep method wouldn’t touch tofu with a ten-foot pole and now actually requests it in meals), I’ve finally found a way to consistently prepare tofu so that it tastes good every time. As a bonus, this recipe is quick and easy (if a little messy). It’s also easy to alter to fit various flavor profiles, depending on the meal you’re making.
Admittedly, some of the nutritional value is probably lost with this preparation method, but it can’t be denied that this is a quick, easy, delicious way to get the protein punch tofu provides without sacrificing any flavor or texture. Plus, it’s super versatile*. We’ve had it with rice and homemade dressing, on breakfast sandwiches, chopped up in salads, as a protein in faitas, and even on its own. I personally like to have it solo, dipped in a little sriracha. The crunch and flavor are awesome.
Crispy, Crunchy Tofu
Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 10-12 minutes | Total Time: ~15 minutes
Makes multiple servings
What you’ll need:
- a block of firm or extra-firm tofu
- 3-4 tbsp. olive oil
- 2/3 cup of flour
- 1/3 cup of ground cashew meal
- 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
- 1.5 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. lemon pepper
- pinch of salt
What you’ll do:
- Start by draining and pressing the tofu. To do this, cut open the package and let all of the liquid drain. Then take the block of tofu and place it on a food towel (I purchased a 10-pack of dish towels at IKEA for a few dollars and use those towels specifically for food). If you don’t have a food towel, you can use several paper towels, but the process will be quite a bit messier that way. Wrap the block of tofu in the towel and press firmly with your hands on all sides until most of the liquid is soaked into the towel. You don’t want to soak up all of it. Make sure the tofu is still somewhat moist when you’re done.
- Using a sharp, smooth-edged knife, slice the tofu into 1/4 inch slices. Depending on the meal and how many you are feeding, you may need more or less. Discretion is up to you, but if you have leftover tofu, store it in fresh water in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to seven days. Let your slices sit while you prepare your flour mixture.
- Combine flour, cashew meal, nutritional yeast, paprika, lemon pepper and salt in a small bowl.
- Spread a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper over a portion of your work area. Make sure it’s large enough to hold all of your slices once they’re breaded.
- Take individual slices of tofu, place them in the flour mixture and use your hands to coat. (Note: tofu is fragile when it’s sliced thin! I’ve found it’s best to put the slice directly in the center of the bowl and then use my fingers to toss flour mixture over the top. It puts less strain on the tofu and makes it less likely to crumble when you try to handle it.) Rest each slice on the plastic wrap or parchment paper while you heat your oil.
- Coat the bottom of a non-stick frying pan with olive oil. 3-4 tbsp. works for my pan, but you may need to adjust depending on size. You want a very thin layer of oil to fry your tofu slices in. Heat the oil over medium until it gets a liquid-like sheen to it; then, add your slices of tofu in a single layer to the pan.
- Fry the tofu over medium heat until crispy and golden on both sides, about 5-6 minutes per side. For a less crispy finish, fry for less time; for a more crispy (but potentially burned! be careful!) finish, fry for more time.
- Once slices are cooked, set on a paper towel to soak up excess oil, then serve.
* Keep an eye out for recipes featuring crispy, crunchy tofu in the future! If there’s one you’d like in particular, comment below and I’ll get to it!