Having lived in the great state of Texas, I got to know Chicken Fried Steak intimately.......specifically, from a fast food joint called Grandys. I mean Chicken Fried Steak to go? Be still my heart.
So in an effort to recreate that Texan comfort food I once loved, I made this Chicken Fried Tofu.
And oh boy howdy y'all, is it ever good!
There's just something about that chewy, deep-fried goodness, especially with that flavorful breading and all smothered in gravy....
MAN was that good stuff.
Yes, even as a converted meat-eater I still miss this kind of food too. I mean it was comfort food! And I think that is one of the main reasons so many new folks fail when they try to make the switch to plant-based....
They miss their favorite comfort foods!
And something like this? Deep fried steak? This would normally be completely out of the question!
But IS it?
What if we took something else besides meat, like breaded TOFU and baked it instead?
Extra-firm Tofu, dipped in a flavorful batter and dredged in those 11 secret herbs & spices, baked to a crispy perfection... Would it taste just as good?
Well, I'm here to tell you YES! This was PERECT , even BETTER than what I remembered.
And the best part? If this recipe helps just ONE person stay on track, then I will have succeeded.
And that's really what Brand New vegan is all about:
Recreating those comfort foods we loved, so you don't feel like you're missing a thing.
So with that said, let's make some Chicken Fried.....
Chicken Fried Tofu
Start with a 14oz package of Organic, Extra-Firm Tofu. Make a slit in the package and drain all the water out, then lay the block on a cutting board.
We're going to cut this into 3 equally thick slabs, about ½" thick. Lay these on a kitchen towel or paper towels, cover them with more toweling, and then place something heavy like another cutting board on top. I go as far as to put something even heavier on top of the cutting board.
The idea is to press as much water out of the Tofu Steaks as possible (this makes them chewier).
Let them sit for a good 20 minutes or more, changing the paper toweling out every 10 minutes or so.
Next, let's prepare the batter and breading. Since this part is exactly like my Kentucky Fried Cauliflower recipe, I'll just copy and paste those instructions here.
Ok so first, let’s make the breading
Combine the Panko, and all the dry breading ingredients together in a small bowl. Whisk thoroughly and then pour this into a flat, shallow pan we can use for dredging.
Next, let’s get the gravy started
We’re going to whisk ¼ cup of flour, the nutritional yeast, sage, salt, pepper, and thyme together in a small bowl and pour this into a large frying pan. We want to toast the flour and spices just slightly (1 min or so) before slowly whisking in 3 cups of Unsweetened Almond Milk.
Simmer over med-low heat, stirring often, until it thickens to a gravy-like consistency (it will thicken even more when it cools).
Now the batter
Whisk ½ cup of chickpea flour (or regular flour), the onion powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Meanwhile, whisk 2 teaspoon of either lemon juice or apple cider vinegar together with 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk to make the ‘buttermilk’.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix to make a thin, pancake-like batter (it should not be thick). Pour this into another flat, shallow pan and let’s start dipping.
The dredging process
By now our Tofu should be nice and dry.
For the actual dredging process, professional chefs will use what is known as the “wet/dry hand” method here. What that means is, they will use one hand to place the Tofu into the wet batter.
I used a pastry brush to make sure the Tofu was evenly coated without handling it too much. Then with that same wet hand, I gently placed it into the breading.
Then with my other (dry) hand, I gently spooned the breadcrumbs over it evenly until it was thoroughly coated.
For the baking pan, I used a normal cookie sheet with a cooling rack placed on top. This allows the Tofu to cook evenly without having to flip or turn. Here is a photo sent in by one of my readers showing the same method she used to make my Kentucky Fried Cauliflower.
Thanks for the idea Pam!
So once our Tofu is battered and breaded, gently place them on the pan.
We're going to bake them in a regular oven at 400° F. Check often and remove when they are brown and crispy, about 30 minutes.
Here are some alternative ways of using this recipe that may be helpful.
Convection: If you have a convection oven, the cooking time will probably be less. Check often.
Air Fryer: If you have an air fryer - I'm not sure my little 3 qt Air Fryer would have room for 3 Tofu steaks without touching. If you want to experiment by making smaller pieces, go for it. I would say check them frequently and give them a little shake from time to time.
Tofu: In addition to the Tofu, I also use this same process to batter and bread 3 large Cauliflower Steaks. I basically removed the leaves and stem of a large head of Cauliflower and then sliced it into 3 large, 1" thick slices. It was good, but cutting the Cauliflower into steaks was a messy process and I lost a lot of it as it crumbled into smaller florets.
Well, gang - that's about it for this week.
Please let me know how you like my Chicken Fried Tofu, and as always, keep those comments coming.
Having lived in Texas, I got to know Chicken Fried Steak intimately.... specifically from a fast-food joint called Grandys. So in an effort to recreate that Texan comfort food I loved, I made this Chicken Fried Tofu. And oh man y'all - it IS good!
- 14 oz Tofu ((extra firm))
- 1 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
- 2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar (or lemon juice)
- ½ cup Chickpea Flour
- ½ tsp Onion Powder
- ¼ tsp Salt
- ¼ tsp Pepper
- 1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
- 1 Tbs Paprika
- 2 tsp Garlic Salt
- 1 tsp Ground Ginger
- 1 tsp Dried Mustard
- 1 tsp Celery Seed
- ½ tsp White Pepper
- ½ tsp Salt
- ½ tsp Ground Thyme
- ½ tsp Dried Basil
- ½ tsp Oregano
- ¼ tsp Black Pepper ((or to taste))
- ¼ cup Flour
- 1 Tbs Nutritional Yeast
- 1 tsp Rubbed Sage
- ½ tsp Salt
- ½ tsp Black Pepper ((or to taste))
- 1 pinch Ground Thyme
- 3 cups Unsweetened Almond Milk ((or more to thin))
- Drain tofu and slice into 3 equally-thick steaks (about ½" thick)
- Wrap the Tofu Steaks in paper towels and place something heavy on top to press out as much moisture as possible.
- Press and drain for at least 20 minutes, changing paper towels as needed.
- Whisk all dry ingredients together in a bowl, then spread evenly in a flat, shallow pan for dredging. Set aside.
- Whisk all dry gravy ingredients together and then pour into a large skillet. Toast dry ingredients for 1-2 minutes over med-low heat, then slowly stir in 3 cups of almond milk.
- Whisk to remove any lumps and stir often as it begins to thicken.
Once the gravy has thickened to a thick, gravy-like consistency, remove from heat and set aside. ( It will thicken even more - thin with more almond milk if necessary)
- Whisk all dry ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Also, whisk either lemon juice or vinegar into almond milk to make the 'buttermilk'. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
- Pour batter into a flat, shallow pan.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and place a wire cooling rack on top of a baking sheet.
- With one hand place a Tofu Steak into the batter. Brush batter evenly to make sure it's evenly coated. With the same wet hand, place the battered Tofu into the breading.
- Using your other (dry) hand, spoon or scoop the breadcrumbs evenly over the Tofu until evenly coated. Place Tofu Steak on pan.
- Bake at 400 degrees F until brown and crispy, about 30 minutes.