Plant Based 411
By Nancy Eisman
Tofu is a great protein source and a pantry/refrigerator staple in my home kitchen. The silken (Japanese-style) variety, which is shelf stable until opened, is great for making salad dressings, added to smoothies, and for decadent desserts. The water-packed (Chinese-style) tofu is considerably firmer and soaks up marinades like a sponge. I use it to make my “egg” salad, as well as for stir-fries, and also to sauté or use in baked dishes.
Melissa’s just introduced a new Organic Tofu that is both pre-pressed and vacuum sealed, giving me the perfect incentive for this month’s recipe. One of my favorite, most tasty, and crowd pleasing ways to prepare the super firm variety of tofu is to coat it in a crust, and shallow fry it up until its golden brown, crispy and delectable.
I used shredded coconut and macadamia nuts for a tropical flair on the outside, and a coconut milk and sweet chile sauce marinade for fantastic flavor on the inside. It’s served with a a pineapple, heirloom tomato and Hatch chile salsa to kick up the heat and seasonal flavors’ factor.
We all know that tofu prepared the wrong way, i.e., without flavor enhancements, isn’t everyone’s favorite plant-based ingredient. However, this crispy, seasoned and flavorful tofu with a zesty fresh seasonal salsa is a wonderful way to turn any skeptic into a fan.
Coconut & Macadamia Nut Crusted Tofu
1 package Organic Super-Firm Tofu, cut in 8 rectangles
1 can lite coconut milk
1/3 cup sweet chile sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons corn starch
¼ teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons water
Salt & pepper, to taste
(adjust as needed to reach pancake batter consistency)
½ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup shredded coconut, grated
1/3 cup macadamia nuts, crushed
1 tablespoon coconut sugar for sprinkling (optional)
1 tablespoon sea salt for sprinkling
1 ½ cups pineapple, diced
1 cup baby heirloom tomatoes, quartered
¾ cup Hatch pepper, diced
½ cup red onion, diced
Juice of ½ lime
Pinch of coconut sugar (optional)
Pinch of sea salt
To marinate the tofu, whisk the coconut milk, sweet chili sauce, salt and pepper together and pour over a single layer of the tofu slices. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
To make the salsa, combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Adjust seasoning to taste and set aside.
To make coating #1, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and 3 tablespoons of water to reach a pancake batter consistency. Season with sea salt and pepper. Pour mixture into a shallow bowl.
To make coating #2, combine the panko bread crumbs, shredded coconut and macadamia nuts together, and spread out on a plate.
(Layer a large plate with paper towels and set near the stove to drain the tofu after frying.)
Heat ½ cup of vegetable oil in a heavy bottom pan over medium high heat.
To prepare the tofu, dip each slice into the batter, letting the excess drip off.
Place the battered slice into the panko mixture and coat lightly on both sides.
Gently place the tofu into the hot oil and cook about 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. You can cook the tofu in 2-3 batches as long as you have room in the pan.
Remove the fried tofu to the paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with the coconut sugar (optional) and salt.
Serve asap with the salsa on the side.