Southern Style Not Fried Boneless Tofu aka Vegan Fried Chicken
This vegan fried chicken isn’t fried and it’s not chicken. It’s a lot like the southern style version, though. It even reminds me of Kentucky Fried Chicken (what I can remember of it, anyway). Whatever. It’s delicious. It’s also nearly fat-free, totally vegan and plant-based, and is actually good for you.
Look. Just look at that. It’s juicy on the inside and crunchy and spicy on the outside, thanks to the secret ingredient I remember from actual fried chicken when I was a kid. Can you guess what it is?
Corn Flakes. Smashed up corn flakes. It makes a yummy, super crunchy coating that’s just as delicious baked as it is fried.
Note: Kellog’s Corn Flakes uses an animal-derived VitD3. Do check the labels if you want to be certain a cereal or any other item is vegan.
A quick overview … kind of a soybean 101 at TofuU. Soybeans are actual beans. The immature beans that are green are known as edamame. The fully mature, dried beans are made into soy milk. For tofu, soy milk is curdled with an acid like vinegar or lemon juice and the curds are then pressed together into the cakes we know as tofu. It’s healthy, rarely made from GMO soy, high in protein, and delicious. It has little flavor on its own and takes on the flavor of whatever it’s cooked with.
This tofu owes its texture to having been frozen and then thawed. It becomes a lot chewier and less watery. The best way to prepare this tofu is to freeze it, thaw it, freeze, then thaw once more. It’s the most labor-intensive method but the second freeze adds just a little bit more chewy texture. If you’re short on time, though, one freeze is fine, too.
What is this tofu sorcery?
What’s actually happening is the water in the tofu is expanding as it freezes, stretching little holes in the tofu. When the ice crystals thaw, much of the water is then able to be squeezed out. Voila. Firmer and less watery.
A note for the overachievers: Based on my own experience, a third freeze and thaw cycle leaves the tofu feeling like one of those puffy kitchen sponges. No one wants to eat a kitchen sponge so do stop at two freeze-thaw cycles, max. Feeling lazy? One freeze and thaw will do if you’re short of time.
Once the tofu has thawed the last time, it can be pulled apart into something a lot like cutlets or nuggets. My preference is to pry it apart so that it’s no more than half an inch thick. That means a higher crunchy coating to tofu ratio. If you like the “chicken” part better than the coating just make your tofu “cutlets” larger and thicker.
The Crunchy Coating
To make the cornflake coating, place the two cups cornflakes in a ziplock bag and crush with your hands or a heavy glass or rolling pin until the flakes are mostly finely crushed. Place in a bowl and stir in the spices. This is a little bit like the Kentucky Fried Chicken spice blend. Add more or less cayenne and/or red pepper flakes depending on how hot you like it.
In a second bowl, pour about a cup of your favorite unsweetened plant-based milk and stir in a tablespoon of tapioca flour. I used unsweetened almond milk but anything without much flavor will do.
In a third bowl, place a cup of all-purpose regular or gluten-free flour. I used a gluten-free version.
All those little pockets left from freezing will soak up the coating that makes this so crunchy. It also soaks up the milk and tapioca, which makes a thin, “skin” like coating between the tofu and the crunchy part. There are a few steps to the coating, and it goes like this … Dip in milk/tapioca mix, dredge in flour, dip in milk/tapioca mix, dip in mashed corn flakes until fully coated. Place on parchment covered baking sheet.
Bake at 425 for 25 minutes, or until crunchy and slightly browned on the outside. Serve with your favorite mashed potatoes and/or sauce.
Southern Style Boneless Tofu aka Vegan Fried Chicken
Crunchy, comforting, and delicious. But also nearly fat-free and plant-based. So good and good for you.
- 12 oz extra firm tofu
- 2 cups corn flakes, finely ground
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon powdered thyme
- 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
- 1 tablespoon tapioca flour
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 cup all-purpose flour regular or gluten-free
Freeze and thaw the tofu then press until most or all of the water has been squeezed out. Use a tofu press or two cutting boards or plates. Squeeze the tofu until little water comes out.
Crush the corn flakes in a ziplock bag. Use your hands, a heavy glass, or a rolling pin. Crush the cornflakes until they're finely ground and then add the 1/2 cup flour, basil, oregano, thyme, sage, garlic, onion, paprika, celery salt, ginger, cayenne, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Stir and incorporate well. Make sure the flour and spices are evenly distributed.
Pour a cup of plant-based milk in a wide bowl and stir in the tapioca and lemon juice until smooth.
In a third wide bowl, place a cup of regular or gluten-free flour.
Pull the thawed and pressed tofu apart into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick nugget and cutlet sized shapes.
Dip tofu pieces in the milk and tapioca mixture until well coated.
Dredge the pieces in the flour, then dip again in the milk and tapioca mixture.
Dredge the tofu in the crushed cornflake mix with the spices until well and evenly coated.
Place on a parchment covered baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes, until they're crunchy and slightly browned.
I think this would go really well with: