These sweet & sour sriracha tofu nuggets are one of the recipes in my fairly new tofu catalogue. I’ll explain. Okay, so it’s taken me a while to get onto the tofu bandwagon (this is the first tofu recipe I’ve ever posted). I tended toward ambivalence about its soft, boring texture. I kind of felt like I needed to buy it and like it because of all of the stereotypes, but whenever I did, it would fall apart in the pan, or taste like nothing, or just be kind of weird.
Oh, but I had also been completely ignoring everything I was hearing about thoroughly pressing the tofu before using it. Considering that I write a recipe blog, in my early stages of being a home cook I had a pathological inability to follow the instructions of any recipe. I would uncontrollably ignore ingredients that the recipe author included and somehow couldn’t bear to give a thorough reading to the recipe steps. I saw the pressing step in tofu recipes as something that was easy to skip. I just wanted to do the part where you cook it. I was in Tofu Denial. Even as I pitifully attempted to work with wet, soggy pieces of tofu that CLEARLY hadn’t had liquid removed properly, I would soldier on as if this was totally normal and bound to taste good.
Thankfully, I have moved on from these habits. There were several things that helped: when I learned how to make bread, I was forced to confront the science of cooking for the first time and this new knowledge and curiosity overflowed into other cooking arenas; when I first joined my CSA, I tasted a ton of different vegetables in their most fresh and pure state, and it made me realize that the way you cook things really does matter. It does sound stupid, but for so much of my life, cooking was this black box, where ingredients went in and a finished dish came out and the details were allowed to remain fuzzy.
Anyway, I digress. Pressing tofu makes a huge freaking difference is what I’m trying to say. Now I get tofu every other time I go to the grocery store because I have come to truly love its texture and ability to absorb flavors. And I can actually cook it myself, in a way that comes out tasty! Listen to the tofu experts, people. I’m glad that I did.
Sriracha tofu nuggets. This is one of those recipes that I kind of obsess over because the amount of work versus the results is an incredibly favorable ratio. Plus, it’s naturally vegan and gluten-free without any funny business.
- 1 package vacuum-packed superfirm tofu (if you can only get extra-firm, follow the optional step 2)
- ½ tsp. organic vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tb. minced shallot or red onion
- ½ c. 100% pineapple juice
- ¼ c. water or vegetable broth
- 2 tb. sriracha sauce (and more to taste)
- 1 tb. tomato paste
- 1 tb. white balsamic vinegar (or regular balsamic vinegar or rice vinegar)
- ¼ tsp. ground white pepper
- 2 tsp. nutritional yeast
- ¼ c. fine cornmeal
- ¼ c. brown rice flour (most other flours should work as a substitute)
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- ⅛ tsp. garlic powder
- Open the package of tofu and drain it completely.
- (Only if using extra-firm tofu) layer the tofu with clean towels and place a heavy object on it to press out excess liquid. Let it press for at least 30 minutes.
- Cut the tofu into 16 equal pieces by slicing 8 times widthwise and once lengthwise. Gently place the tofu pieces in a bowl or dish and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, warm the oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and onion, and cook for a couple of minutes until softened.
- Add the pineapple juice, water or broth, tomato paste, sriracha, vinegar, and pepper, and bring to a gentle boil, stirring to combine everything.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for a few minutes. Taste for seasoning.
- Pour the marinade over the tofu, making sure all of the tofu is covered. Let the tofu marinate for at 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone liner.
- In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the coating.
- One at a time, take a piece of tofu out of the marinade, making sure that it is still wet so that the cornmeal will stick, and toss it in the coating mixture so that all sides are crusted. Transfer to the baking sheet. Repeat until all tofu is coated.
- Bake for 10 minutes, flip over the tofu pieces, and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the outside is crisp and cooked through.
- Serving suggestion: use any excess marinade to make a dipping sauce by combining with ketchup and/or more sriracha, or serve with BBQ sauce or other dipping sauce of choice.
Shared on Healthy Vegan Fridays.