Sunday, November 8, 2009

Thai Tofu Nuggets

I know. You're thinking, "TOFU?! She just was trying to get me to eat seaweed and now we're on TOFU?!"
Before you decide to never look at this blog ever again, hear me out.

Tofu is the perfect accompainment to crunchy, salty, crusts. It's tender, and at the same time has a beautiful airy texture when you bake it like this. The fact that it doesn't have a strong taste works so well here. And really, wouldn't anything be good dipped in peanut sauce? I mean, LOTS, and LOTS of peanut sauce?

Plus, your kids probably don't have an aversion to tofu yet. You may have one from thinking of it as a disgusting health food, but if you don't tell them you don't like tofu, they probably will eat it, because like I said, it tastes good here.

And if I still can't convince you, I'll let you in on a secret. You can do this same exact recipe with chicken. But please, please, try tofu first (because it's cheaper, healthier, and easier to work with).

Here I have for you the easiest peanut sauce recipe there is, with no weird ingredients, except the red curry paste which is totally optional. This makes a lot more peanut sauce than you need, which is the best reason to make it. I made a pizza with the leftover peanut sauce and topped it with silken tofu sliced like cheese. Yummmm.

My daughter loves to eat things with toothpicks. If you put the toothpicks into this before baking, it actually stays in better. For some reason if you try to pick them up after with a toothpick, it doesn't really work.

Peanut Sauce
1 can coconut milk
2 T brown sugar
1/2 C smooth natural peanut butter
3 T soy sauce
1 t red curry paste (optional)

Whisk and cook in a saucepan, stirring constantly over medium heat until thick and smooth. (a few minutes)

Tofu Nuggets
Turn oven on to 360.
Take a 1 lb block of firm tofu (FIRM! not silken) and place on a  folded paper towel on top of a plate. Place another folded paper towel and put cutting board on top of that. Put something else heavy (like a large can of pumpkin) on the cutting board that can balance on its own. Leave it for 10 minutes while excess water drains.
Cut 1 lb block into 20 squares.
Wrap each square with spinach leaf, secure by sticking a toothpick through leaf and tofu piece.

2/3 C panko (breadcrumbs), 1/3 C cheese, 1 t salt, place in shallow bowl.

slightly beat 1 egg in another bowl.

dip each piece of wrapped tofu in egg and then in panko mixture (press the crumbs on)
place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
bake at 360 for 23-28 minutes (until crispy and slightly golden on the bottom).
Serve with peanut sauce!

A tip for dipping in egg and then panko: Use one hand for the egg dipping, and then place the tofu into the panko mixture without touching the panko with your egg hand. Use your other hand for rolling around in the panko, trying only to touch the panko. If you use both hands for both dips, you'll have more coating on your hands than on the tofu.

I've already thought of some variations I'd like to try here: basil instead of spinach, and coconut flakes instead of cheese. StumbleUpon


Anonymous said...

Hi! What kind of cheese did you use? This looks delicious

Anonymous said...

Also, for the variation with coconut flakes...How much coconut flakes do you recommend using in place of the cheese?

Mariko said...

I used the shredded Mexican cheese blend I get from Costco (shame, yes. I can't even shred my own cheese). But I like how it's so thin and small-- perfect for this kind of thing. You definitely need a small holed grater.
The coconut flakes would be the same-- 1/3 C. The unsweetened kind, for sure. I get those in bulk at my natural foods market. If you did that, it might be good with sweet and sour sauce (kind of like coconut shrimp, if you've ever had that). Let me know how it works out!

Anonymous said...

Hi! Thanks for the suggestions! Do you think parmesan would work with this recipe? I can't wait to try it!

Mariko said...

Yes-- I've done it with parmesan too. Actually, the cheap granular parm in a bottle works pretty well mixed with the panko because it adheres a little better than regular cheese. I've used that as a breading (panko and parm) for eggplant and chicken too, and it's really good.

Yaminette said...

This looks tasty! My two year old is a tofu-fanatic, especially if it is made in some type of spicy curry. Any thoughts on replacing the egg? I am also not a fan of frying tofu because I suck at it. One thing for sure is that I freeze the tofu and then thaw it in the fridge for a couple of days. The tofu texture is chewy and easier to fry since the water is easier to expel from it.

Mariko said...

I've made tofu breaded things by dipping in a mixture of cornstarch and water (make it very watery-- thin, not like the paste at all) and then dip in the bread crumbs. It maybe slightly more difficult to get the crust on, but it works. I love fried tofu, but if I can get away with it, I don't fry it. :) Probably because half of my week is spent frying, and it's just so much less time consuming to stick things in the oven!

Danielle Davis Teslevich said...

I can't wait to try this! I'm always looking for new and interesting ways to cook tofu. Being a vegetarian I'm so thankful that my son also loves tofu, even more than chicken! He loves it completely plain, cooked or dipped in sauce - it sure makes cooking family meals a breeze!

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