Tofu is an excellent source of amino acids, calcium, iron and loads of other good stuff. But who gives a crap, sometimes you just want something deep fried and delicious. Popcorn tofu – all of the taste, none of the campylobacter!
There are various tofu popcorn recipes knocking around, but I didn’t peek! This recipe is all my own – although I guess the concept is pretty basic 🙂
This recipe comes as three parts: the tofu, the “egg” wash and the coating. It looks like a lot of ingredients but its well worth it. The result is lovely, slightly tongue tingling pieces of tofu which are soft in the middle but wonderfully crunchy on the outside.
250g Tofu – firm, not the silken variety.
1/3 x cup non-dairy milk (40ml)
1/3 x cup Aqua faba (40ml)
1 x tbsp. cornstarch
1 x cup plain white flour (125g)
2 x tsp ground black pepper
1 x tsp ground coriander
½ x tsp ground ginger
1 x tsp salt
½ x tsp smoked paprika
½ x tsp ground cumin
½ x tsp garlic powder
¼ x tsp tumeric
¼ x tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 x tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you’re a hot head!)
1 x tsp dried sage
1 x tsp dried parsley
2 x cloves (ground)
1. Drain and press the tofu in advance. Once prepared, cut into 1inch cubes. (Tip: For an even more authentic texture, freeze and defrost first. Shaking a few drops of liquid smoke over the cubes adds even more taste.)
Whisk up the aqua faba, dairy-free milk and cornstarch until white and fluffy. Pour into a bowl along with the tofu cubes and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, create the coating by mixing together the flour, herbs and spices.
Roll each cube of tofu in the flour mixture until coated and set aside for a few minutes. You will see the coating turn a yellowish colour as the turmeric soaks up the moisture.
Add all of the coated tofu cubes into the remaining flour mixture and give them a gentle toss to make sure that they are fully coated. The coating might look a little lumpy but this is good as it gives a nice authentic texture when fried.
Deep fry at 190oC for 3 – 4 minutes. The tofu will float when cooked and should be a nice golden colour.
Drain on some kitchen roll before enjoying!
Tip: It is best not to overcrowd the fryer. So unless you have a very large fryer I would recommend cooking in two batches. You can keep the first batch hot and crispy by spreading out across a baking try and putting in a warm oven.
I had to go to Romania with work the last week. When I think of Eastern European cuisine I (used to) think of rich meaty stews and hunks of flesh served with cabbage. However, I was pleased to learn that wasn’t necessarily the case in Bucharest.
Remus and the Wolf
A fact I didn’t know – around 87% of the Romanian population are Orthodox Christians. What is the relevance of this? There are times of the year where Orthodox Christians undergo a strict fasting period which basically means they follow a vegan diet! (More information here). So although I found that most restaurants didn’t understand the term “vegan”, they knew exactly what I meant if I mentioned fasting! And in some cases there was even an extra menu dedicated to this.
Not everyone in Romania is oblivious to veganism however. Whilst I was there I visited one vegetarian restaurant called Barca which had a very extensive menu, entirely vegan apart from the occasional guest-appearance from honey. I had falafel with a chopped parsley salad and it was very tasty and light. The restaurant itself was also very clean and fresh-faced. I wish more UK vegan joints were like this!
Falafel and parsley salad
I also ordered takeout from a place called Biofresh. I had a salad consisting of courgette, tofu, dill, wheat germ and garlic with a dressing made from tofu, basil, pine nuts, olive oil and spices. It sounds like such a simple meal but it was so delicious I was inspired to make my own variation when I got home. It was just a shame that nearly all of the desserts from these places contained honey (miere).
A non-veggie place I visited was a restaurant called “Caru’ cu Bere” (or “The Beer Wagon” in English). This place is one of the oldest beer houses in Bucharest and although it was a bit of a carnivore’s paradise, it was amazing! There were traditional dancers performing at regular intervals and it was heaving with people, even on a Wednesday night. I shared a loaf of bread with an aubergine dip and a traditional dip made from a variety of vegetables for starter, followed by a traditional vegetable stew with polenta for my main course. Both were hearty and delicious! I didn’t really have room for a pudding but then I got passed the “fasting menu” and discovered that they had egg and dairy free pancakes!!! Nom!
Dancing Romanian stylee!
Should my Romanian hosts happen to stumble across this post, I would like to thank them wholeheartedly for looking after me so well and going to such lengths to ensure that I was happy and well fed! ♥
So, as I mentioned in my first ever blog, I have decided to try and stick to a vegan diet for a fortnight to see how I get on. I’m anticipating it to be pretty hard work considering my husband is a hardcore carnivore…
Since the majority of my family are from Grimsby, I felt that I had to find a veggie / vegan fish alternative that didn’t taste like crap!
Inspired by the lonesome, singular sheet of nori I inevitably always seem to have leftover from making sushi, I came up with the following recipe for vegan fishcakes.
They don’t have the same flaky quality of fish, or the exact fishy flavor, but they were close enough to keep my haddock cravings at bay (my favorite white fish before I turned veggie). They are also pretty tasty and the delightfully crispy coating gives them a nice bit of texture without being too unhealthy.
1 sheet of nori,
2 slices wholemeal bread (stale is better),
1 block of firm tofu,
1 fresh lemon,
1 sprig of fresh parsley,
1 splash of non-dairy milk
Black pepper to taste.
Press the block of tofu for 12 hours. You want it to be nice and firm!
Once pressed and firm, the tofu can be cut into fishcake sized pieces. I got 4 fishcakes out of one block.
Next, prepare your breadcrumbs. Whiz the bread along with the nori, the parsley and a bit of black pepper in a food processor.
Once the breadcrumbs are ready, chop the lemon into two. Keep one half as a garnish for later on and juice the other half. Add the juice to a splash of non-dairy milk and mix.
Dip each side of each piece of tofu into the lemony-milk mixture, before rolling in the breadcrumbs. You might need to gently pat the breadcrumbs onto the tofu to ensure that they stick.
Place each breaded piece of tofu onto a non-stick baking tray (you can lightly oil the tray if you wish) and bung into the oven at 180oC for 20 minutes. Turn every now and then to make sure they cook evenly.
I served mine with a fresh salad consisting of leaves, tomato, white cabbage, fresh chives and a sprinkling of pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and flax seeds. I also made some vegan tartar sauce by whizzing up some vegan mayo with a squeeze of lemon juice and some mini gherkins. Delish!!!
Carnivorous husband rated these 6 out of 10 because they tasted “too much like fried egg whites”. How a vegan fishcake tasted like egg I’ll never know!
I hope anyone who tries to follow this recipe enjoys their “fishcakes” too.