Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tofu Tuesday: Breaded Tofu Triangles and Balsamic Ketchup

Tofu Tuesday: a quest for tasty tofu recipes

Oh great, this is only the third Tofu Tuesday and I'm already getting sick of it.  But, seeing as I'm working on patience, I don't have another topic starting with T (yet), and I've got a few more recipes to try, I'll stick with this tofu thing a little longer.  But really, if you have any ideas for a different series please let me know.

I wanted to try baking tofu after my broiling experiment last week.  I also decided to try breading it, hoping to add a little more texture and flavor as well as cover up that tofu look.  Since the texture was much improved with the frozen method I used last week I went that route again.  Actually, I tried to use the other half of the same block of frozen tofu.  Tofu is stored in water and it is recommended that you change the water daily.  Who remembers to do that?  Not me.  I think you can get by with changing the water every few days, but I didn't even do that.  So when I opened the container it had that off smell (but hey, at least it didn't smell as bad as sour lunch-meat).  The water was a murky yellow and I was left with fermenting tofu.  Lesson learned.  

I cut a new (frozen, thawed, drained and pressed) block of tofu into small triangles about the size of chicken nuggets. Then I dipped them in a mixture of milk, cornstarch and balsamic vinegar to get them wet enough for the coating to stick. For the coating I used a mixture of cornmeal, breadcrumbs and spices.  Any spices will do, I'm not really sure why I went with the ones I did.  The coating tasted fine before baking but afterwords I wished I had added more spices.  For the bread crumbs I threw a few slices of bread (that cheap gross wonder-bread-type, I know very sad) into the food processor and pulsed until crumbs formed.  The crumbs went onto a baking sheet and in the oven at about 300 for around 20 minutes.  I'm sure you can find a better way to do it if you really want to make your own bread crumbs.  Or you can just buy some, whatever works.  

Back to the tofu.  I dipped it in the liquid mix then coated it in the dry mix and then baked it at 400 F for 15 min per side (so 30 min total).  The result?  The coating had just the right crunch without being hard.  It stayed on the tofu but wasn't soggy.  Overall the texture was pretty similar to chicken nuggets,  even the tofu part.  As for flavor this could definitely use some work.  They were pretty bland and the tofu taste came though.  If I were to make it again I would try marinating the triangles before dipping and coating.  Maybe in some Worcestershire sauce? The only problem here is the potential for too much liquid that could seep out during baking and make the coating soggy.  It might also work to add more flavoring to the wet mix.  I've seen recipes where the tofu was dipped in egg or a thinned down hummus before breading.  I didn't have any hummus left and I felt the cornstarch would contribute to a crisper coating. But there is potential here to add more flavor and plenty of room for improvement. 

So, decent texture but sorely lacking in flavor. You know what that means right? Ketchup! Lots of ketchup. Homemade balsamic ketchup.  I could have just eaten this ketchup and skipped the tofu, and I'm not usually a ketchup person.  I came across this recipe for balsamic ketchup and decided to give it a shot.  It's super easy to make, contains only ingredients you've heard of and takes less than 5 minutes.  I cut the recipe in half   just in case I didn't like it, but I can see lots of ways to use leftovers.  Mine came out pretty thick so you might need to add a little water to get it to the consistency you want.  I'm planning to leave it as is and try it out as pizza sauce. (See, that's a little more normal than what I used on my pizza last Friday.) Personally I would cut back on the oregano when using this as ketchup. However, the basil and oregano do pair nicely with the balsamic and will work great with pizza. 

Here's the measurements for what I did with the tofu in case you want to play around and add more flavor. Just do something to it because its pretty bland as written.  There was too much coating for the amount of tofu I had, so I would go with 3 Tbsp each of cornmeal and breadcrumbs. This will help up the spice ratio too.  The amount of coating you need depends on the size of your tofu pieces.  

Breaded Tofu Triangles  (read post above before deciding if you want to make this)

1/2 block firm or extra firm water-packed tofu: frozen, thawed, drained and pressed
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dry mustard

* Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line small baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.   
* After tofu has been frozen, completely thawed, drained and then pressed, cut it into triangles the size of chicken nuggets.  
* In a small shallow bowl, combine milk, cornstarch and balsamic vinegar and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
* In another shallow dish, combine cornmeal, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, onion powder, paprika, chili powder and dry mustard.  
* Dip tofu triangles in wet mixture until completely coated.  Some liquid will absorb into the tofu.  
* Next, dip the tofu into the dry mixture until evenly coated.  
* Place the tofu on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  Flip each piece over and bake 15 minutes longer or until golden brown and crispy.  

Balsamic Ketchup
You can find the recipe here.  My only changes would be a little less oregano and a little water to thin it out.  

Food for Thought: "Make Today Ridiculously Amazing." (while I don't know who said this, I do know that making the above tofu is not likely to make your day ridiculously amazing)

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