A Perfect Way To Serve Pretty Darn Good Vegan White Meat
Did I mention easy and a good jack-of-all-trades recipe? Prepare a block of plain tofu into: cutlets, cubed, or “ground” and substitute for chicken or pork in chilis, stews, and a very good TLT sandwich. I even include it in Asian summer rolls; it’s been a winner for years.
Here is a good back story on how I found it.
I loved the way my local health food store* prepared this as grilled tofu. The recipe was in a notebook only available to the cook. My tall, blond haired, blue eyed nephew was coached by me to ask for it. It took him a couple tries, but his smile and wink finally did the trick.
I have worked with variations of tofu to finally yield this nice meaty texture; not giggly as tofu is want to do. The whole recipe takes a few minutes so it fits my easy, cookshare style.
Tofu is inexpensive and provides a vegan option as the mood pleases. I like the organic tofu found in tubs. When frozen, tofu turns firmer and more porous—like a sponge. Either way is a winner.
Restaurant is Feel Rite Fresh Market in Amherst, NY
Amherst Tofu Cutlets
- tofu- firm, 1 LB, 1/4″ thick cutlets
- oil- 2 TBS, neutral flavored
- baking soda- 1/4 tsp
- soy sauce- 2 TBS.
- apple cider vinegar- 2 TBS.
- black pepper- 1/8 tsp, fresh ground is best
- *onion powder- 1/2 tsp, not onion salt
- *garlic powder- 1/2 tsp, not garlic salt
- sage, dried- 1/2 tsp., or 1 tsp. fresh, minced
*If you have asafoetida, omit the onion and garlic powders and use 1/4 tsp
- You can prepare this recipe with tofu right out of the tub, or for a more textured, firmer result, freeze the tub for 24 hours and then thaw.
- Slice tofu into 8 equal cutlets; about 1/4-inch thick.
- Lay cutlets in single layer on a folded hand towel and cover with another towel. Press firmly to remove liquid.
- Meanwhile, make the marinade.
- You will need to cook the tofu in two batches. Pre-heat a non-stick skillet add half the oil, half the baking soda, and sauté the tofu; 2-3 minutes per side until just beginning to take color.
- Add in half the marinade and stir, toss the cutlets to evenly coat. Remove and repeat.
Now you have the finished, meaty flavored cutlets. Serve hot or reheat. Alternately cut into cubes, or pulse in a food processor to turn into ground texture. They are also good as a lunch meat substitute. I love the TLT (tofu-lettuce-tomato) sandwich. Try it! When reheating as cubes or ground meat, sauté again to provide a firmer, almost crunchy texture. The cubes make for a great stir fry “meat.” The featured photo is a stir fry of baby bok choy, scallions, and tofu cut into planks.
Planned-over Recipe: Amherst Fajitas
Sauté some onions and bell peppers in oil until soft, add in a little chopped garlic, some blackening seasoning or other cajun or Tex-Mex blend. Add in the chicken tofu after being sliced into strips. Squeeze a little lime juice and add some minced fresh cilantro. Serve on warm tortillas. Garnish with your favorite Tex-Mex condiments.
Asafoetida: The Strange Spice That Is Getting Noticed
Asafoetida (aka Hing) is a spice that out of the jar smells like dirty socks. But, once cooked, completely mellows and adds a mild layer of garlic and onion flavor. It’s a secret ingredient (no more) in my fermented vegetables, when I want to add allium depth with just a pinch of it.
It’s not expensive; locate in international or Indian markets. Some diners that can’t eat garlic or onions, can substitute asafoetida. It’s also said to aid with digestion and flatulence.
Baking Soda: Science of Browning
The wonders of science: baking soda causes foods to brown really, really quickly. This is because it raises the pH in the skillet which causes proteins to brown much faster. This is the best technique I have come across in years. I caught it on America’s Test Kitchen.