Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tofu "fish" fingers with tartare sauce


Over the past year or so I have tried a few fish substitute recipes using tofu and none of them really hit the spot. I didn't bother posting about any of these unsatisfactory experiences and continued searching for a better recipe. Last week I tried one that was so good it was immediately requested to go onto high rotation.

I bookmarked a recipe for crispy tofu scallops from cookbook author Bryanna Clark Grogan's blog earlier this year and was interested to try it out as the tofu was marinated prior to being crumbed and fried. Other recipes I had attempted before this one had been battered in a seafood flavoured mixture. Rather than cut the tofu into the shape of scallops as Bryanna had done which would have resulted in leftover tofu scraps, I cut my tofu into strips to resemble fish fingers.  


The recipe sounded fantastic so I didn't want to change too much and only substituted a few ingredients that weren't on hand at home. The absence of dulse or nori flakes in my pantry was of no concern as I was certain that shredding half a sheet of nori would suffice. It did do the job although I would probably use a full sheet next time around. I'm always a little cautious when mimicking seafood flavours as they have never really been my thing. Bryanna had used a type of cereal made of bran flakes which gave her scallops a crunchy coating, I was quite happy to use some wholemeal breadcrumbs this time around.


Bryanna's accompanying tartare sauce recipe wasn't going to work out with the ingredients I had available and after a quick search I found a recipe on allrecipes.com that almost suited my needs. I substituted a couple of gherkins and some fresh dill for the sweet pickle relish and asked the man to be my taste tester as he has much more expertise eating tartare sauce than I do.  


The crispy outer layer of the "fish" fingers combined with the tender tofu within was incredible and the tartare sauce paired perfectly with them. I'm tempted to to give this a try with frozen and thawed tofu another time for comparative purposes although this is a recipe I don't think I'll be playing around with too much.


Tofu "fish" fingers (Adapted from Notes from the Vegan Feast Kitchen)

350g firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 cup water
3 tablespoons vegetarian stir fry sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tablespoon raw sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ - 1 sheet of nori, shredded in a spice grinder
½ cup plain flour
½ cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 crusts wholemeal bread, processed into breadcrumbs
Peanut oil or other vegetable oil, for shallow frying

Cut the tofu into thirds lengthwise, then cut each piece of tofu into 6 even sized sticks. Whisk together the water, vegetarian stir fry sauce, lemon juice, oilive oil, garlic, sugar, salt and nori in a deep sided dish and add the tofu ensuring that it is well coated in the marinade. Allow to rest covered in the refrigerator for several hours if possible, or at least 30 minutes.

Organise 3 bowls for coating the tofu fingers, plain flour in the first, soy milk mixed with apple cider vinegar in the second and breadcrumbs in the third.

Heat oil in a deep sided frying pan. Test the oil's readiniess by placing a breadcrumb into the oil, if it sizzles the oil is hot enough. Cook the tofu fingers in batches. Fry on one side for about 3 minutes and then flip over and cook on the other side for a further 3 minutes. Remove and place on paper towels to drain the excess oil.


Tartare sauce (Adapted from allrecipes.com)

½ cup vegan mayonnaise (I used Praise 97% fat free)
¼ small brown onion, very finely diced
2 gherkins, very finely diced
1 tablespoon dill, chopped finely

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl at least 30 minutes before serving. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until required.

19 comments:

  1. Looks awesome! Do you think they could be baked or is frying the way to go?

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    1. Thanks ruskindays! They could definitely be baked but as I haven't tried it yet I'm unsure of how long they would need in the oven and whether they would turn out as well. I would try spraying them with oil and baking for 10-15 minutes at 180C then flipping and baking for another 10-15 minutes. Let me know if you give it a try!

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  2. Wow, this looks great. I will have to make these soon. They look like something fun to eat over summer and maybe my non-vegan nieces and nephew might even like them.

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    1. Thanks luminousvegans. I think they would be a great child friendly meal even for non-vegans!

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  3. Despite sharing your wariness of seafood flavour, I grew up on fishfingers and sometimes wish I could recreate them so I must try this. I would make them tomorrow but I already have tofu bacon in the fridge! I saw someone using polenta for a crumb coating recently and wonder if some polenta would add to the crispiness of the coating

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    1. Thanks Johanna, definitely use a full sheet of shredded nori for extra seaweed flavour if you do give it a try. I'll be interested to hear how polenta compares to breadcrumbs, I don't keep polenta in the pantry as none of us are very fond of it.

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  4. Those fish fingers look amazing! I've never found seaweed to taste too incredibly fishy, but I like it's flavor, so I'm definitely bookmarking these to try.

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    1. Thanks Jes. Nori doesn't seem to have an overly fishly flavour although I did put too much of it in something recently which overpowered the dish so I was being cautious this time. ;-)

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  5. Oh wow, these look incredible! We haven't had much tofu lately, but I do think I should remedy that with this recipe.

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    1. Thanks Theresa, I'm always finding ways too many tofu recipes to try. I wish I could say we haven't had much tofu lately...

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  6. What an impressive effort Mel - I can honestly say I have given no thought to recreating fish-based dishes, in part because I do still eat fish on occasion, but I think more so because my imagination just hasn't gone down that path. I am moving more and more away from the occasional fish I do eat, so would love to give these a go. Do you think it would work baking them too, or is the frying an essential 'hold it all together' step?

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    1. Thanks Kari, it would be interesting to see what you thought of the flavour given that you still have the occasional bit of fish. I think baking would work fine and have recommended baking steps to ruskindays above. I don't fry things very often and do enjoy to have an indulgence like this sometimes.

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    2. Thanks Mel - I've taken note of the baking steps. I have a surprising lack of taste for fried foods, and also a surprising lack of patience to stand over a pan and monitor them :P I find an oven much easier to leave whilst I do other things.

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  7. This sounds wonderful! Like you, I think I'd go the fish stick direction for sake of ease and so that I wouldn't have to figure out what to do with the scraps. I just picked up some of Vegenaise's new tartar sauce. Now I just need to find vegetarian oyster sauce!

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    1. Thanks Cadry. Yes it just made more sense to cut them into sticks and call them "fish" fingers as we have a frozen product over here by that name which I grew up eating on occasion. Be on the lookout next time you are in an Asian grocer for vegetarian stir fry sauce!

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  8. Wow, those to-fish fingers look great.

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    1. Thanks Jojo, they tasted so good I had to make them again the very next week. Highly recommended!

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  9. thanks for sharing.

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  10. These sound delish! I'm on a vegan cooking kick so I'll have to try these out.

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