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Fried tofu nuggets that will knock your socks off

I’ve been working on a faux chicken nugget recipe for last couple of years.  One of Pinch’s is most popular blends is Finger Lickin’ Chicken.  It is great on chicken, but actually ends up being a great flavor for vegetarian cooking.  Though it doesn’t taste like chicken, it has a robust rich flavor that make everything taste great.  We always have a bag of morningstar nuggets in our freezer for those times when you just want to pop something in the oven and chill.  I’m one of those people that feels guilty for not making things homemade and these nuggets were really starting to bother me.  I’ve had great success frying tofu for Chinese american dishes like general tso’s using baking soda and corn starch, but not much luck with batter fried tofu.  Especially getting the texture right.  This recipe gets it right.  So what’s the deal?

What I wanted to do is make tofu nuggets using Finger Lickin’ Chicken as the base flavor like I do with fried chicken.  Recently I stumbled on to a video by Mary’s Test Kitchen that caught my eye.  Mary solves the biggest problem with tofu, excess moisture, by freezing the tofu not once but twice.  Here’s the thing, you can press tofu to get moisture out, but eventually the tofu will crumble and for nuggets we need it to stay intact.  When the tofu goes into the freezer the little pockets of ice form in the tofu then when thawed you can easily press the excess moisture out.  This gets all of the moisture out and leaves you with tofu the resembles a sponge that can be broken up into large pieces.  At this point they just need to be battered and fried.  Mary’s video is for making a vegan popcorn chicken, but this recipe will use eggs and milk for the batter. I recommend her video if you want to go vegan, or simply substitute for the egg and milk in this recipe.  Mary’s video is here

On to the recipe, which is still a working recipe by the way.  I’m still experimenting with the best time to add flavor to the tofu.  For today, we will add the flavor right at the start.  I will update this as I experiment a little further.

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Vegetarian Fried Chicken Nuggets with Tofu

Make amazing fried vegetarian nuggets that are as good, or even better than actual chicken nuggets.  

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Thomas "Shoebocks" McGee

Ingredients

  • 1 package firm tofu
  • 3-4 tbsp Finger Lickin' Chicken
  • 1 cup veggie stock or broth
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs optional
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups buttermilk you can substitute regular milk

Cooking Instructions

  1. mix 2 tbsp. of finger lickin' chicken with the veggie stock

  2. drain the tofu and add the finger lickin' veggie stock

  3. let this marinate for 30 minutes

  4. press the tofu to remove as much liquid as possible

  5. place the tofu in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for 2 hours

  6. remove the tofu from the freezer and let it thaw

  7. press as much liquid out of the tofu as possible, i use my hands and paper towel

  8. return the tofu to the bag and freeze again for at least 2 hours

  9. now let the tofu thaw again and press out all the liquid.  The tofu should now resemble a sponge.  

  10. add oil to pan suitable for frying.  I use a dutch oven.  I cast iron pan works great as well.  Heat over medium high heat.  The oil should reach about 375 degrees before frying

  11. now break up the tofu into nugget size pieces.  I found smaller is better in this case.  

  12. let's make some batter.... whisk the eggs and buttermilk in a bowl

  13. mix the flour, the rest of the finger lickin' chicken and the panko together in a separate bowl

  14. now we get our hands messy.  Dip a piece of tofu an coat in the egg mixture, then dunk in the flour mixture to coat.  You can put this down on a plate and do 8-10 pieces at a time.  

  15. add the tofu to fryer and cook until golden brown, flipping once during cooking.  should be 3-5 minutes, but you really just want to look for color here.  

  16. remove from oil and drain.  I put the nuggets on a cooling rack over a baking sheet.  

  17. serve with your favorite dipping sauce or make your own ranch dressing with our Pinch Valley Ranch.  

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