October 13, 2012

Peanut & Coconut-Crusted Tofu Nuggets

I didn't know tofu could satisfy the "battered-and-fried" craving, but now I've tasted that it can. Thankfully, these are battered but they are not fried, and they've still got all the crispy flavor of a nugget that's taken a dunk in the oil hot tub.

I first came across some form of coconut-battered tofu at Whole Foods years ago. When I lived in downtown Manhattan I used to wander to the Houston Street Whole Foods daily on my work lunch break. For the better part of an hour I'd find myself cruising through the food-porn library that is publicly known as their prepared food bar (added bonus: the Houston Street Whole Foods has a DESSERT BAR, too. It's just not appropriate. There should be a rating warning on that).

Anyway, back to my point. One day this battered, crisp, coconutty tofu appeared. Since it made its debut years ago (it's been a regular on the prepared food line since) I've been wondering, "how did they make that?"

Prayers/fantasies/longing has been answered.

Dare I say these might rival than the ones I can pick up at Whole Foods? You'll have to try them for yourself. WF, I love you, but this recipe involves peanuts, too, and I love peanuts. Plus the price on that prepared food is kind of steep... No matter how little I put in my container it always weighs enough to be $12 for five, admittedly delicious, bites... I still haven't figured that equation out.

This equation is fail proof: peanuts + coconut + tofu = party for your palate.

Peanut & Coconut Crusted Tofu: makes about 16 "nuggets". Adapted from Cooking Light.
1 14-oz package water-packed extra-firm tofu
1/2 cup salted, dry-roasted peanuts
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided

Cut tofu lengthwise into 4 1/2 inch slices. Place on several layers of paper towel, cover with additional paper towels, and let absorb for five minutes. Cut each tofu slice again in half lengthwise, then cut strips in half crosswise to create 16 "nuggets."
Place peanuts in food processor; process until ground. In a shallow bowl, combine peanuts, coconut, cayenne, and Panko, stirring well. Combine coconut milk and egg in a shallow dish, stirring well. Place flour in a separate shallow dish.
Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan and swirl to coat. Dredge half of tofu in the flour, dip in egg mixture allowing excess to drip off. Dredge in peanut-coconut mixture. Add coated tofu to pan. Sautee a few minutes per side, turning each piece after a few minutes, to allow each side to brown separately. Repeat with the second batch.

Serve as desired. I put them in warm corn tortillas topped with shredded lettuce, guacamole, onions, and cheese. Delish!

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