Fried Tofu: Chicken Style and Buffalo.  Yes, Buffalo.

Fried Tofu: Chicken Style and Buffalo. Yes, Buffalo.

Like many people right now, we are cutting back on our meat consumption.  And when we do eat it, we now spend our “meat dollars” (wow, that sounds gross) on responsibly raised and locally produced animals.  Clearly, ethical issues and environmental impacts have led us down this path.  I absolutely cannot justify having cheap, feedlot meat on the dinner table so frequently after reading books like “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan and seeing graphics like this.

I think I could go vegetarian pretty easily, but the rest of my family (OK, mostly my husband) would have some trouble with it.  Aside from people simply liking meat, there are cultural factors that connect a roasting turkey with family and celebration.  And no, I don’t see us having a Tofurkey on our Thanksgiving table any time soon (although I love the Thanksgiving sides more than the Turkey), but I do know that we are working our way toward much less meat in our diet.  Not a perfect solution, but I do think it is an improved scenario.

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So, when I approach tofu at home (which I haven’t typically done much), I tread lightly.  I can’t just offer up a bowl of steamed veggies and tofu … yet.  I have to prepare it in ways that make everyone willing to try it.  So for kids (and learning-to-like tofu husbands), I lean toward preparations like this one — where it is fried and sauced.  It certainly is not the most healthy way to eat it, but at this point, I am just trying to get everyone to eat it.

The key with treating tofu like meat is to use the extra firm varieties.  I added a step that I have been reading about lately — boiling it for thirty minutes — to make it a little firmer and chewier.  And I thought it turned out very well. (I have also read that freezing tofu changes the texture also, so if you have any feedback let me know.)  Regardless of whether you do any texture prep like that, you do really need to marinade it (the longer, the better) because it will take on any flavor you give it.  And without the marinade, it can taste, well …  like tofu.  Try any marinades you like — in this case, I treated it sort of like fried chicken with a spicy buttermilk marinade.  But Asian marinades (soy, ginger, sesame oil, etc.) work very well.  Actually, I think I am going to try some tofu with my stand by chicken marinade and see what happens.

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I used two different sauces in this case … the first was a creamy herb sauce on the side for dipping and the second was a simple buffalo wing sauce which I tossed the fried pieces into.  However, good old ketchup was very popular with my daughter (who even wanted the leftovers in her lunch the next day!)  Barbecue sauce would be great for kids also.

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My meat loving friends should be cautious, however.  I am definitely going to make up a big batch of the Buffalo Tofu for our next party with a big platter of blue cheese and celery and prove to you how much you love tofu.  And watch out, because next I’m trying Tofu Parmesan, breaded, tomato sauced, and cheesed over pasta.

Fried Tofu, Two Ways

Serves 4

15 oz. package of extra firm tofu
1 t. smoked paprika
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 t. salt
2 cups of buttermilk
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper
2-3 cups of panko breadcrumbs
2-3 eggs, beaten
Canola Oil

1.  Bring a large pot of water to the boil.  Slice tofu into squares or strips (smaller pieces are better for tofu haters, because they will be more breaded — just don’t cut them too small or they will fall apart.)  Gently drop tofu pieces into boiling water and boil for 30 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, make marinade (or use your favorite).  Combine paprika, garlic, salt, buttermilk, and pepper in a glass baking pan or dish.  When tofu is finished boiling, remove with a slotted spoon and place directly into marinade.  Refrigerate for several hours, turning the pieces occasionally.

3.  Prepare breading ingredients by beating the eggs in a shallow, wide dish and placing the breadcrumbs in a similar shallow, wide dish.  You should season these both with salt and pepper.

4.  Strain tofu from marinade and set onto paper towels to dry a bit.  Bread tofu pieces by dipping them first in breadcrumbs, then in eggs, then back into breadcrumbs.

5.  Pour canola oil into a large saute pan or frying pan to a depth of about 1/2 inch.  Heat the canola oil over medium heat until it is about 375 F.

6.  Fry breaded tofu pieces a few at a time (my large saute pan handled about 5 or 6 at a time) until golden brown on bottom side (2-3 minutes).  Flip and fry for a few minutes more until golden brown on both sides.

7.  Remove from oil with slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain.  Sprinkle with sea salt and repeat with remaining tofu pieces.  Serve with sauce of your choice.

Creamy Herb Sauce

1/2 cup of heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
Zest of one lemon
1 T. lemon juice
1/2 cup of sour cream
Salt and Pepper
Freshly chopped herbs, about 2-3 tablespoons

Combine all ingredients and serve on the side as a dipping sauce.

Hot Buffalo Sauce

1/4 cup of butter (1/2 of a stick), melted
1/8 cup of Frank’s Hot Sauce (or your favorite — and more or less to taste)
Salt and Pepper

Combine all ingredients and toss with fried tofu pieces before serving.

Hot and Sweet Garlic Sauce

1/4 cup of butter (1/2 of a stick), melted
1/8 cup of Frank’s Hot Sauce
1 T. soy sauce
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/8 cup of honey
Salt and Pepper

Combine all ingredients and toss with fried tofu pieces before serving.

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13 Responses to “Fried Tofu: Chicken Style and Buffalo. Yes, Buffalo.”

  1. Wei-Shin says:

    mmm… uh-oh says my significant other who is learning to not dislike tofu.

  2. amanda says:

    Hmm. Even when I was a vegetarian for 6 years I tended to stear clear of tofu, simply because I couldn’t be arsed messing around with it to make it edible. And yeah, it’s the texture that puts me off. I’m all for cutting down on the amount of meat that we consume but part of me wonders if tofu is that good considering how processed it is. Any thoughts?

    Although I will confess that this makes me want to give it a go! I love anything slathered in buffalo sauce. I don’t get it nearly often enough living here in the UK.

  3. Kristin says:

    You know Amanda, I have wondered about that too. At times, I have felt like we were getting too much soy in our diet (especially when my daughter was still allergic to dairy). But I have come around on that … I think it is probably a good thing in moderation (like everything else). I definitely only buy the organic tofu made with non-genetically modified soybeans, but beyond that we eat it for dinner maybe twice a month at most. It just gives us another vegetarian option that isn’t beans, rice, pasta, etc.

  4. Dana says:

    We are definitely going to try this out—I haven’t had anything buffaloed in years! We eat tofu about once a week, and finally found that if you fry it in a bit of olive oil on high heat until it is brown, it develops a nice chewy texture. Our two-year-old loves to dip it in a little bit of soy sauce, even when it is part of another recipe.

  5. Kristin says:

    Made a little update with another “wing” style sauce … really yummy.

  6. Cole says:

    I am the “learning to like tofu” husband and I have to say we had this last night buffalo style and it was very good. I think I even had seconds. If we had a little blue cheese to go with it I would have a hard time not thinking these were boneless chicken wings. Really good!

  7. Amber says:

    I’m sure tofu is quite healthy in moderation, as Kristin mentions. I am very leery of soy products that are not organic, because they use a tremendous amount of pesticides and fertilizers that have a very big carbon footprint. I haven’t researched organic soy enough to know how much of a difference there is in the carbon footprint of organic versus conventional soy products. It’s great to see a recipe for soy that is not just a stir-fry… I had to eat the stuff as a kid and think the battered and fried tofu looks much more appealing!

  8. amanda says:

    I remember when I was a vegetarian I used to buy those Morningstar Farms Buffalo “Wings”. Yeah. They were pretty damn good BUT all of that stuff is just so chocked with sodium and so heavily processed. Still, in a pinch…

  9. amanda says:

    You’re always hearing on the news about how soy is great for you and then two days later they’re on tv talking about how it leads to breast cancer, etc. What is a foodie to do?

    I may have to give these a go, just to see the look on my husband’s face. 😉

  10. Thanks. I’m supposed to cook for my new vegan girlfriend next weekend and have absolutely no idea what to make! I found tons of recipes at this vegetarian recipe site but with soo many to choose from I just got confused. Do you have any recommendations, like .. the tastiest vegetarian recipe, ever, or something?! Thanks in advance! I hope it goes well

  11. Aaron B. says:

    This recipe was awesome. Before I became a vegetarian I loved my meats and try my best to recreate them. For chicken I have resigned myself to buying morning star but no more. I just made this for my female companion who says it was sellable good. I am now being worshipped as a culinary god. This is my new jams

  12. korry says:

    im wondering, instead of frying this can you bake it? if so what steps in the recipe would need to be changed?

  13. Savannah says:

    This was so good! My biggest craving since going veg has been buffalo wings, and they don’t seem to sell Morningstar here in Canada. This recipe really hit the spot.

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