Buffalo Tofu (Vegetarian Recipe, with a couple of photos)

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Summary: Buffalo sauce is, to a degree, its own reward. So let's slather it on some breaded, fried tofu, and enjoy.

BLOT: (10 Jul 2012 - 09:09:28 AM)

Buffalo Tofu (Vegetarian Recipe, with a couple of photos)

Recently, I became convinced that I could make buffalo tofu work by essentially making a dish as though it was buffalo chicken, with some changes for the tofu-medium, and progressing from that common ground. And it did. It worked well. The texture is almost dead on to fried chicken (if you were to cut it into smaller, slightly shaped pieces, a person might take several bites before realizing at all they were not eating boneless wings), the flavor of the fried tofu goes great with the buffalo sauce, and while it is not particularly healthy when compared to many, many other ways of making tofu and its ilk, it still makes a nice alternative finger food for parties or, as we used, a non-meat meal that satisfies a hefty craving on a Saturday night.

The primary factors to consider are: a) the tofu needs to be pressed to get it good and firm, b) you'll need wet batter instead of dry to stick to the tofu, and c) panko or other bread crumbs help to build up a "skin" that will absorb more buffalo sauce and give it a pleasing texture and crunch. In the recipe below, I am going to discuss the specific brands of things I used, but feel free to substitute your own favorites in. This is what mine ended up looking like:

First up, I cut the tofu into roughly 1oz wedges about half an inch thick. I got 18 out of the pack of tofu I had. I took these wedges and laid them out on four paper-towels. Put four more -towels on top, and then pressed them down with a cookie sheet on top of this (in order from counter-up: paper-towel layer, tofu layer, paper-towel layer, cookie sheet layer) and about 5lbs of evenly distributed weight. I let this go on for about half an hour, and then pricked the surface of the tofu and rubbed a little bit of fine grain salt in to help roughen it up and give it some flavor.

Somewhere in here, get the oil pretty hot (I went for a notch above medium high, I'm sure others have exact temperatures in mind, but I have no idea what they would be). Also mix the flour, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, pepper, in with enough water to make it slightly thinner than pancake batter. Stir it up really well and let it sit for a few minutes. The spices will make it a slightly pink color, and it should stick with a thin but "stable" coat to the tofu. If you like more breading, up it to maybe 2 or more cups of flour, whip it into a thicker batter, and dip the tofu a couple of times to coat.

Dip the pressed tofu wedges in the batter, and then lay them out on a sheet or plate so that you can sprinkle panko on top. Regular bread crumbs will probably work. If you do it with a little bit of haste, the batter will stay stuck more to the panko and the tofu than the plate. This is going to soak up just enough of the batter to help give the tofu a crispy "skin" that will soak up the sauce.

Put in a reasonable amount of tofu to your fryer (mine held six at a time), sort of bother it a moment or two to make sure they aren't sticking together, and then walk away for 10 minutes. Cooking time might be more or less depending on the shape and size and tofu used, but 1oz wedges cut about half an inch thick and pressed well took exactly 10 minutes.

When you are starting your last batch, melt your butter-ish substance (and/or butter) in a small sauce pan. Toss in some extra ingredients if you want to add some other flavors to the sauce. I added a little garlic. Let it melt and go a little brown, then dump in the whole bottle of Frank's while taking the pan off of heat. Pray to all that is holy the tear gas like effect is not too bad, and then stir the two together so that the residual heat sort of bubble the oil and sauce together. If you are the kind that fancies something like mango in your hot wings, presumably this is where you would go for it. And may God have mercy on your soul.

The final step is to take a large spoon, and scoop the sauce over the fully fried tofu bowl. Every few scoops, sort of toss or stir the tofu so it spreads around, and keep going. You will probably have just a little hot sauce left, and you can use that for those want it to be a little extra wet. And that's pretty much it. Serve with sides and sauces of your choice.

Vegetarian Recipes


Written by Doug Bolden

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