Saturday, 18 May 2013

Mel's Tofu Fish Fingers

I didn't grow up with fancy fresh fish and seafood.  If we didn't have fish and chips on a Friday night in my Catholic childhood, the other fishy alternative was sometimes fish fingers.  Often with salad.  Dipped in a blob of mayonnaise. It has long been a dream of mine to find a vegetarian alternative.  So I was excited to see Mel posting about her Tofu Fish Fingers.

I made these some months ago so my memory is not brilliant.  Photos help me remember that I went to some lengths to press the tofu (see above).  My notes remind me that we went to a friend's place and unexpectedly stayed for dinner on the night I planned to make them, so they marinated for 30 hours.  But I can't remember how I arrived at a stir fry sauce full of molasses.  An online recipe, I am sure.

I finally made the fishfingers after catching up with friends at the botanic gardens.  In an ideal world I would have waited for dinner and served the fishfingers with chips or potato gems, just like my mum would do.  As it was, we had a grumpy hungry child on the way home from the gardens, so we shared a tub of chips at the train station. 

At home I made Sylvia's dinner, put together the dipping bowls, chased Sylvia away from them, put her into her pajamas, crumbed the tofu while E read her a story, put her to sleep, fried the fishfingers.  No fancy side dishes.  I suspect a fish finger or two might have made its way into a sandwich with mayo.  In retrospect, it is amazing I took any photos the night I made them. 

The next night I made more of an effort with the sides and made oven baked chips.  I refried the leftover fishfingers.  Everything looked rather well cooked but it tasted delicious.

The crumb coating was crispy and delightful.  Given how good the crumb coating was in my memory of fishfingers, this was important.  The taste however was not strong enough and tasted a wee bit too much of (blackstrap) molasses.   Sylvia loved them.  That is no surprise given her fondness for tofu and nori.  It is a great reason to try again.


I suspect I need to get my 'stir fry sauce' ingredients tweaked.  I also would love to try a tofu x-press like Mel's.  Next time I think I might try some more soy sauce and a less intense sweetener.  I enjoyed it but the slabs of tofu were missing a flaky fish texture.  I wonder if it would be possible to grate the tofu and then press into fingers.  Actually there are a few interesting recipes that combine vegies and flours that I might try.  So while it is not quite what I was hoping for, I am far closer to finding my ideal vego fish fingers.

Other vegetarian fish finger recipes out there:
served with:

Tofu "fish" fingers
Adapted from Notes from the Vegan Feast Kitchen via Veganise This!
makes about 14 fishfingers

500g firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 cup water
3 tablespoons vegetarian stir fry sauce (I used 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp molasses)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tablespoon raw sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 - 1 sheet of nori, shredded in a spice grinder (I shredded 1 sheet with scissors)

For the coating:
3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup soy milk
1 and 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
4 toast slices of wholemeal bread, processed into breadcrumbs (I used fresh bread)
Peanut oil or other vegetable oil, for shallow frying

Cut the tofu into thirds lengthwise, then cut each piece of tofu into 6 even sized sticks. Whisk together the water, vegetarian stir fry sauce, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, sugar, salt and nori in a deep sided dish and add the tofu ensuring that it is well coated in the marinade. Allow to rest covered in the refrigerator for several hours if possible, or at least 30 minutes.

Organise 3 bowls for coating the tofu fingers, plain flour in the first, soy milk mixed with apple cider vinegar in the second and breadcrumbs in the third.

Heat oil in a deep sided frying pan. Test the oil's readiness by placing a breadcrumb into the oil, if it sizzles the oil is hot enough. Cook the tofu fingers in batches. Fry on one side for about 3 minutes and then flip over and cook on the other side for a further 3 minutes. Remove and place on paper towels to drain the excess oil.

On the stereo:
No Earthly Man - Alasdair Roberts

18 comments:

  1. Love the idea of tofu fish fingers! They look great, especially that crispy coating.

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    1. Thanks Caroline - love the crispy coating

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  2. Awesome! My boyfriend has been begging me to make some vegan fishfingers. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks Little Vegan Bear - hope these do the trick!

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  3. Fish fingers aren't something I grew up with (I think I had them once at a friend's place?) these look incredible.

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    1. Thanks Hannah - part of me says you were lucky because they are so junky and part of me feels sorry for you because they are great fun and makes you wonder about the little fishies who have lost their fingers

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  4. I'm very impressed you made these on the day / night in question! I too was very grateful for Mel's post and enjoyed the 'scampi' pieces I made last year that were very similar but just a different shape. You have reminded me that I should try them again.

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    1. Thanks Kari - I liked how you made yours into scampi pieces - I think I just went off the rails with the stir fry sauce

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  5. I'll have to try this. I don't do enough with tofu and those look really appealing!

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    1. Thanks Jac - I sometimes think I do too much with tofu - partly because I am always making tofu bacon - but I have got out of the habit of doing tofu nuggets - similar to these - which is a shame

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  6. I can vouch for a tofu x-press its incredible and definitely worth it. I looked into importing them but I think I would have made $8 per unit in the end.. that how tightly they protect their margins so I let it go...

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    1. Thanks Carla - I am glad to haer they don't fleece customers but sad to hear you decided not to import - would have been great to buy them locally

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  7. Hehe does it taste like fish? I actually used to enjoy fish fingers.. and am kind of ashamed to admit it. Heaps of tomato sauce though. I will have to give these a try!

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    1. Thanks Cass - it doesn't taste like fish though the nori flakes help a bit - we never had fish with tomato sauce (well I didn't - I suspect my siblings might say differently)

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  8. We never really had fish growing up so fish fingers were never soemthing I had or craved. I could totally crave these tofu fingers though!

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    1. Thanks Joanne - I definitely prefer tofu fingers to fish fingers these days but sometimes get that nostalgic twitch

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  9. Oh I'm sorry to hear that the stir fry sauce substitution messed you around. I haven't made these for a while but next time I was planning to try wrapping some presoaked nori around the tofu prior to coating for extra seaweedy flavour. I'm pleased to see that you shallow fried them as everyone else who has made these fingers has baked them and the coating is so much nicer when fried.

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    1. Thanks Mel - I should have been more careful about the stir fry sauce. The idea of wrapping the tofu in nori sounds like a good one and I did swither over if I should shallow fry or bake but I think the shallow frying does make it more crispy.

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