Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Beer Battered Tofu "Fish" and Chips

I've heard it a million times: "I don't like tofu. It doesn't taste like anything!" I understand that sentiment because I used to say it myself. I thought tofu was just for stir fry and not much else. After we gave up meat, I realized that I now had to cook with this stuff. What could I do with it?

It didn't take long to see the possibilities. There are a ton of fun and interesting recipes out there that put tofu in all sorts of starring roles. And because it takes on the flavors of marinades and sauces, tofu is a great culinary chameleon.

If you're missing beer battered fish and chips, this should satisfy your cravings. Extra-firm tofu holds up extremely well to being battered and fried. I like to let it soak up some soy sauce beforehand to give it a little flavor. The saltiness works really well with the creamy texture of the tofu and the crunch of the breading. Make sure to use a dark beer for this. The darker the beer, the better the flavor. You don't need anything fancy, though. I used Guinness this time around and it was perfect.

You can cut your tofu into whatever shape you like. I'm a fish sticks kind of guy, but if you're more of a Long John Silvers fan, go for some triangle wedges instead. You could also do little tofu poppers by cutting them into one-inch pieces.

1 lb extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 cup unbleached flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup cold dark beer
1/2 cup cold water
Vegetable oil for frying.

Prepare the tofu: After draining and pressing the tofu, stand it up on its side and slice it in half down the center of the side, making two thinner blocks. Set both sides down flat and slice it across the middle. Then slice it lengthwise so that you have thin "sticks" of tofu. Put the tamari or soy sauce in a glass dish and soak the tofu in it, turning it occasionally to soak up the sauce.

At this point, you can get your pan of oil ready for frying. Use a large, heavy-bottomed pot with about a half inch of oil in it. Preheat it over medium heat.

Make the batter: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch and baking powder. Make a well in the center and pour in the beer and water. Whisk it together until a thick, smooth batter forms.

If you're wondering whether your oil is ready, drop a little batter in and see what happens. If it bubbles rapidly, it's ready. It should be around 325 or 350 degrees.

Working in batches, drop a few tofu pieces into the batter and move them around to coat. They'll hold the batter without it slipping off.

Gently lay them into the oil and let them fry up for about 3 minutes on one side and two on the other. They'll start to get puffy and golden.

When they're done, remove the pieces and place them on a plate lined with paper towels. If you're not serving them immediately, you can put them in an oven preset on the warm setting, or at 200 degrees. Serve them with fries and some vegan tartar or malt vinegar, if that's your thing.

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