Earlier this month, I saw a recipe on Vegan Dad that looked very intriguing: Golden Crispy Tofu. I tend to shy away from serving tofu since my manfriend gets a little skittish around cliché vegan food and fabricated protein sources, but this looked so crunchy and familiar that I figured I could trick him into trying it at least.
Although Vegan Dad deep fries his crispy tofus, he suggests baking this recipe could work and I’m all for eliminating processed oils. Since I was already making some changes, I decided to keep rolling with it. Vegan Dad’s use of Panko and mustard immediately reminded me of my favourite Asian restaurant growing up, which served extra crispy egg rolls with hot mustard, plum sauce and sesame seeds for dipping. The closest taste I’ve ever encountered to that spicy-hot mustard was in my grandparents’ fridge:
Keen’s Hot Mustard may not be Asian, but it tastes exactly like the mustard I remember so very fondly from days of yore. Vegan Dad also calls for hot sauce so you better believe I busted out the Sriracha. And, because I was going for an Asian theme, I swapped out Vegan Dad’s poultry seasoning and paprika for garlic and Chinese 5 Spice Powder, which can be found pretty much anywhere with a nice spice selection.
Since I was trying to trick a tofu doubter, I decided to marinate my slices rather than simply dredge them in the Sriracha mixture. Let them hang out at least an hour and pierce tofu gently with a fork to get the most garlicky-hot flavour action.
These turned out really, really well. My kids, who are convinced I sneak Sriracha in their cereal, gobbled these crunchy tofu sticks right up with nary a peep. You know what that means: if you need them seriously spicy, I say decrease the non-dairy milk and up the mustard and Sriracha. As much as your pretty little mouth can take.
- 1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 3-5 tbs Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce
- 2 tbs hot mustard
- 1/2 cup whole grain flour
- 1 tsp sea salt or smoked rock salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp Chinese 5 Spice Powder
- 1 1/2 cups Panko crumbs
- 1-2 tsp black or white sesame seeds
- olive oil cooking spray
- 1 package extra firm tofu, pre-pressed, if you can find it*
1. In a medium/large, flat bottomed dish with a tightly fitting lid, combine non-dairy milk, mustard and Sriracha.
2. Slice tofu into 1/4 inch slices and place in Sriracha mixture. Cover dish and shake gently to ensure maximum coverage. Allow tofu slices to marinate for at least half an hour, preferably longer. Overnight is nice.
3. Preheat oven to 400ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
4. In another flat bottomed dish, combine flour, salt, garlic and 5 spice powder. In a third dish, mix Panko and sesame seeds. Get your assembly line ready: tofu, flour, panko, pan. Designate one hand for wet work and another for dry sprinkling, moving the tofu from station to station, making sure it is completely crusted and arranging it on baking sheet.
5. Spritz tops very lightly with olive oil spray and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Serve with steamed veggies (especially greens), brown rice and more hot mustard, Sriracha, plum sauce and sesame seeds for dipping.
*I am lucky enough to have access to locally produced tofu that’s already pressed. If all you can find is the extra-firm tofu that is packed in water, you will have to press your own for this recipe. Here’s how!