fried_chicken430x300.jpg
Tofu is no fried chicken, but what is?
Kim O'Donnel's recipes in The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook are hearty and satisfying. While removing the meat,

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The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook Recipe for Pepita-Crusted Tofu

fried_chicken430x300.jpg
Tofu is no fried chicken, but what is?
Kim O'Donnel's recipes in The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook are hearty and satisfying. While removing the meat, she has made extra effort to pump up the flavor and texture. Read Part I for the review.

This recipe for Pepita-Crusted Tofu isn't quite like fried chicken, yet it satisfies in much the same way. Salty, crunchy, juicy, and spicy. Crushed pepitas add texture to the "pesto," while chiles, garlic, cilantro, soy sauce, and sesame oil, add complex layers of flavor.

Pepita-Crusted Tofu

Ingredients

1 (14-ounce) package fresh extra-firm tofu, preferably organic

1 1/2 cups raw, unsalted pepitas

2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled

3/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped roughly

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 fresh chile pepper of your choice, seeded and chopped roughly (I like things on the hot side, so I use 1/4 habanero)

1/3 cup soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Cornstarch, fo dredging

Vegetable oil, for brushing

Here's what you do:

Drain the tofu: Remove from the package and place on a dinner plate. place a second plate on top of the tofu and weigh it down with something heavy, such as a can of food. Alllow to sit for about 20 minutes (While the tofu drains, you can make the pesto).

In the bowl of a food processor or wide-mouthed blender, place the pepitas. Pulverize, using the "pulse" button. Do not puree into a past; you're looking for texture.

Add the garlic, cilantro, salt, and chile pepper, and continue to process, using the "pulse" function.

Taste and smile. This stuff is really good, and if you're not careful, you could end up eating it all and forget abou tthe tofu. Transfer to a shallow mixing bowl.

With a sharp (serrated is even better knife, cut the tofu into 1/2-inch wide cutlet-like slabs. (You should get eight to ten pieces). Transfer to a dish deep and wide enough to accommodate all the slabs in a single layer.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Pour the soy sauce and sesame oil over the tofu and allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes, making sure you turn the tofu once to ensure even coverage of the marinade.

Place about 1/ cup of cornstarch in a small, wide bowl. Dredge a tofu cutlet in the cornstarch. Dust off any excess.

With a silicone or pastry brush, apply oil to both sides of the cutlet. Place in the pepita mixture, and with your hands, press on both sides of tofu. The pepita mixture will adhere and look a bit like a mosaic.

Transfer to a baking dish large enough to hold all the tofu in a single layer, being careful of the pepita crust. Repeat these steps for the remaining tofu cutlets.

Bake for 30 minutes, carefully turning onto the second side with a spatula or tongs after the first 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and serve hot or at room temperature.

From The Meatless Lover's Meatless Cookbook, Copyright © 2010 by Kim O'Donnel. $18.95, published by Da Capo Lifelong Books. Available at Amazon.com

Kim O'Donnel with be signing her book November 11 at Click Design That Fits in West Seattke from 6pm to 9pm, and at University Book Store November 15 at 7pm. Information about other events around Seattle, including cooking demos can be found at kimodonnel.com.

 
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