Sweet and Sour Tofu

I’ve been craving some good fake Chinese food lately.  I say fake as in the kind of “Chinese” you get at mall food courts and the buffets that inexplicably also serve french fries and mini corn dogs.  Not authentic, not even really Chinese, just sort of… Asian-esque enough to pass.  Usually I prefer to find quality stuff, but sometimes some junky food is just what hits the spot.

I recently decided to take matters in to my own hands.  I’ve done chow mein and lo mein before, so this time I ventured into the world of sweet and sour “chik’n”.  It doesn’t come out tasting chicken-y (which I view as a good thing), but in terms of satisfying a craving, it does the trick.  The best part?  It’s simple!

Sweet and Sour Tofu

1 block tofu

1 cup Panko (Japanese style bread crumbs)

turmeric, cayenne, black pepper, sage, and garlic powder to taste (I used a generous dash of each)

House of Tsang Sweet and Sour Sauce (yep, I’m too lazy to make my own)

Remove the tofu from its packaging, squeeze as much water out of it as possible, and wrap it in plastic.  Be sure all areas of the tofu are well-covered.  Freeze overnight.

Place tofu in a bowl and microwave on high for 4 minutes, pausing after each minute to flip or turn the tofu.  Continue until defrosted (press on the tofu–if it’s not hard anymore, it’s thawed) but be careful not to cook it.  Squeeze all the water out of the tofu; press hard, there’ll be a lot!  Then cut the tofu into 1″ cubes.

Meanwhile, mix the bread crumbs and seasonings.

Dip the tofu in lukewarm water, shake off the excess, then roll in the bread crumb mixture.  Place on to a well-greased pan (I sprayed generously with canola oil).  When all the tofu is in the pan, spray lightly with oil.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, until breading begins to turn golden and tofu is firm and crispy.  Turn once or twice during baking time for best results.

Coat tofu in sweet and sour sauce and serve warm.  Enjoy!

Bonus recipe: For sesame tofu, mix sweet and sour sauce with honey (you naughty vegan!) about 3:1 (more sauce than honey), toss the baked tofu in the sauce, coat with sesame seeds, and place back in the oven for about 5 minutes or until sauce has dried a bit.

Bonus FLOP: I also tried to modify this to make coconut fried tofu (you know, like coconut shrimp).  I froze the tofu and thawed it.  Then I rolled it in a mixture of panko, unsweetened coconut, a little sugar, and ginger.  Then I fried it in Earth Balance.  It tasted pretty good but a lot of the breading came off during frying–I think it would work better with a deep fryer.  I ended up pressing a little extra breading mixture onto the tofu after I fried it.  If you have a deep fryer and try this, let me know how it goes!

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