Monday, November 5, 2012

Coconut Crusted Tofu

We had a massive hurricane come through our area last week (Hurricane Sandy). To prepare, we took the standard measures such as stocking up on water and non-perishables and cleaning up our flood-prone basement. We have a tendency to lose power fairly easily and have lost lots of fridge food on more than one occasion, so once our home was weather-ready, we started eating all of the perishable food.

There were some leftovers, milk, cheese, and the like. We emptied the fridge until one thing remained - a package of extra firm tofu. We have never had tofu before, but it is on my foodie bucket list and it was on sale, so I had grabbed it. Apparently it has a long shelf-life and bore an expiration date well beyond a month, so I figured we'd have lots of time to warm up to the idea. Thanks to Sandy, that plan was about to change.

Not being one to waste food, I hopped over to Pinterest to look over the one and only tofu recipe on my board of hundreds of recipes. I decided to go for it.

Crispy Coconut Crusted Tofu
Adapted from

What I use:
  • 1 lb. extra firm tofu
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/4 tsp. of garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. of fresh grated ginger (I used my microplane for a very fine grate)
  • 1 c. flour, divided in half
  • 1 c. panko bread crumbs
  • 1 c. coconut flakes (I used sweetened because it was all I could find)
  • Salt to season the finished tofu
How I do it:

1. Drain and dry the tofu by patting with a paper towel.

2. Cut the tofu into bite-sized chunks.

3. In a baking dish large enough to lay the tofu in a single layer, mix together the soy sauce, water, garlic powder, and ginger.

4. Lay the tofu in the marinade and let it sit for 30 to 60 minutes, flipping over halfway through.

I ended up cutting these pieces in half again because they were too big.

5. Set up a breading station using three shallow bowls. Place 1/2 c. flour in one bowl. Mix the other 1/2 c. flour with some water to make a "batter" similar in thickness to pancake batter. Pour that in the second bowl. In the third bowl, mix together the panko and coconut.

6. Coat each piece of tofu by dipping it completely in the flour, then the batter, then the panko-
coconut mixture.

7. Heat a large frying pan with about 1/4 inch of vegetable oil over medium heat.

8. Cook the tofu for one to two minutes on each side, until golden brown. Adjust your heat if necessary because the coconut will burn easily.

9. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to cool and drain. Sprinkle with a little salt immediately.

I skipped the chili-mango cream from the original recipe because we don't like chilies or mangoes. 

I have to be honest here. I didn't mind it so much. It was better than I thought it would be, but not as good as I had hoped it would be. I couldn't really taste the coconut, so it ended up tasting like my favorite fried eggplant. As long as I pictured that in my head, I was able to keep eating it.

Andrew does not like eggplant, fried or otherwise, and he did not like this either. He ate a piece or two and that was the end of that.

I gave it to our son without saying a word. I put 10 pieces on a plate and handed it to him. He ate it. All of it. Every last crumb. He didn't even ask me what it was. I wasn't sure whether to applaud his mature taste buds or question his blind faith in my ability to produce good food.

The final verdict? It was time consuming, but the crispy coating was worth it. I will definitely steal this same basic plan, and replace the tofu with something else, anything else really. Maybe chicken or shrimp or zucchini.

Try it yourself and let me know what you think of this recipe.

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