ECO Lunchbox Three-in-One #78

Some seasoned potato wedges, my little ketchup bottle, blanched broccoli, kiwi and strawberry chunks, tofu "chicken" nuggets (recipe below), and a little cup of vegan "honey" mustard for dipping.

I have many, many times mentioned that I was working on perfecting tofu "chicken" nuggets. At last, I have the recipe of my dreams. They're excellent when first cooked and also make very tasty leftovers. They're good hot, cold, and at room temperature. They are flavorful enough to be good without a sauce but go well with more or less anything you would dip a chicken nugget into. (The flavor is reminiscent of Chick-fil-a nuggets, so think honey mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, ranch dressing, etc. If you wanted them with gravy I'd suggest leaving out the pickle juice.) They're juicy and tender but still meaty. And they really look like chicken nuggets, too. The only drawback is that they really aren't spontaneous. You'll have to plan ahead to freeze and thaw your tofu twice.

I didn't go it alone, though; this is a combination of several online recipes and my own trial and error.

The method for prepping the tofu is from Mary's Test Kitchen's recipe for gluten free vegan fried chicken. I encourage you to go over there and read about it, because she describes it really well.

The marinade draws on a few different recipes, including one at 40 Aprons, which is also where you can find the vegan honey mustard sauce, upon which I can't improve. (Seriously, that sauce is so, so good.)

The breading is an adaptation of one at Southern Kissed. (Warning: That site includes photos of abused chickens.)

So. It took a village. But here they are.

Tofu "Chicken" Nuggets
Serves: 4-6

2 blocks medium-firm tofu (don't use firm or extra firm here; it won't work)
1 cup of hot water
2 teaspoons Better than Bouillon No Chicken-flavored stock base
1/4 cup dill pickle juice
1 cup Bisquick
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Peanut and/or canola oil

Start by freezing your tofu, allowing it to thaw completely in the fridge, and freezing it a second time. Thaw it again. (Because you'll be doing this, you'll have to start this process a few days ahead.)

Gently drain the tofu and squeeze out excess liquid by placing the block of tofu between two plates and pressing it over the sink. After you've squeezed out most of the liquid this way, you can either press it via your usual method or just gently but firmly use your hands to squeeze out any more liquid lurking in the tofu. Set aside.

Mix hot water and bouillon until dissolved in a large bowl. Stir in pickle juice.

Being careful to allow the tofu to separate along the stratified layers that naturally formed when freezing, gently pull the tofu into large nugget-sized pieces and put into marinade. Carefully turn the tofu so that it all gets in contact with the broth.

In a shallow bowl or pie plate, mix Bisquick, powdered sugar, paprika, black pepper, salt, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and dried basil.

Using one hand for the "wet" work and one for the "dry," take pieces of tofu one at a time and coat them in the Bisquick mixture. Set aside coated tofu on a plate in a single layer.

You may end up with tiny bits of tofu left. I just tossed those in the remaining Bisquick when I was done and fried them at the very end of this process. They made little popcorn nuggets. Whether you do this is up to you.

Heat about an inch of oil in a skillet to 350 degrees. Working very carefully so the oil doesn't spatter (note that if you squeeze the tofu the marinade will drop into the oil and make it pop, so try not to do this), place tofu pieces one at a time to fry in batches. Do not overcrowd your skillet. Turn when golden brown so they cook on all sides. (Most of mine were of the right size that I really only had to turn them once, but some will be oddly shaped and need to be turned a few times.)

Remove cooked nuggets to a wire rack or plate lined with paper towels. Serve alone or with your favorite dipping sauce.

Comments

  1. Oh. My. Goodness. I need these tofu nuggets in my life!! I'm going to have to find a high energy time to make these because they sound incredible and it definitely sounds like it makes a lot so it's worth the effort. The box looks amazing and you know I love fruit on the side to add a refreshing pop! Thanks so much for this recipe, I can't wait!

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    Replies
    1. I hope you like them! I initially only made one tofu block's worth of tofu nuggets as I was developing my recipe but that just wasn't enough tofu nuggets.

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  2. This looks like such a great lunch! The tofu nuggets sound fantastic; thanks for sharing your recipe!

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    1. It was pretty great! I was so excited when I first bit into this version of the recipe. It's so satisfying to hit the notes you've been straining to get to for so long.

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  3. I love nuggets! What size is your tofu block? We have 250g, 375g, and 500g here. (so between 8 oz to 1 lb more or less)

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    1. Each block has about 400-450 grams, I think (14 or 16 ounces depending on the brand). I'd just use two of the 500 gram blocks, probably, with those options.

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  4. Whoah!!! I am so impressed! Those sound like a lot of trial and error and an amazing final result!
    And I’m embarrassed to admit but at one point i would put ketchup on steamed broccoli (well, about anything really) it’s actually really delicious i swear! So now i want tofu nuggets and broccoli with ketchup. Although obvs i would also dunk the nuggets.....
    Ttrockwood

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    Replies
    1. You can eat as much ketchup as you want! It's your food!

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