Tofu "Fish" Sandwiches
As some of you may know, I recently moved from the big smoke to the seaside. Being vegan, the fish huts of Hastings Old Town are little more than quaint, quirky architecture to me. I must admit, however, I do often crave a hot, crispy, vinegary snack when throwing sticks for the dog down at the beach. This is my take on a “Fillet o Fish” sandwich. This recipe serves two people but I challenge you not to wrestle the final two sandwiches out of your parter/friend/mother’s hands and eat them for yourself. Yes, they involve some frying, so this isn’t perhaps the best option for those of you who are taking it easy this January, however, if you’re planning a cheat meal for lunch any time soon, this is your dude.
The tofu is seasoned with one of my favourite spice mixes; “Old Bay”. It’s traditionally used mostly for fish, which is why it’s so reminiscent of seafood, even when added to something as simple as tofu. I also follow in the footsteps of Club Mexicana and use a sheet of nori to replicate the fish skin. It crisps up beautifully and brings a real taste of the sea to the table.
Any white bread is good for this recipe, but if you want extra brownie points, you can use my recipe and make your bread from scratch. The difference is truly worth it, if you have the time.
Makes 2 servings (4 sandwiches)
For the Pickled Onions
1 small red onion
100 ml rice vinegar/white wine vinegar
For the Sandwich
8 slices thick white bread (use this recipe if you’d like to bake it yourself)
4 tbsp vegan mayo (I use Hellmans Vegan Mayo)
1 tsp sriracha hot sauce
1 head gem lettuce
For the Tofish
280 g block tofu (sliced into 4 squares width ways)
3 tbsp corn flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp old bay seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
3 tbsp water
1 sheet nori seaweed (the kind used for sushi)
100g panko bread crumbs
Prep the Tofu
Lay the four slices of tofu our onto a layer or two of kitchen roll. Top with another layer or two of kitchen roll then press with a heavy pan or baking dish (don’t press down on the tofu, just allow the weight of the pan to do the work. We’re trying to remove water without damaging the shape of the tofu).
Leave the tofu to drain for at least 10 minutes.
Make the Pickled Onions
Using the thinnest setting on a mandolin, slice the red onion and place in a ziplock bag. Pour the vinegar into the ziplock bag, seal and leave in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Prep the Sandwich
Lay out your four slices of bread (remove the crusts if you like - I freeze the crusts and use for breadcrumbs so nothing goes to waste). Mix together the mayo and hot sauce then divide between the 8 slices of bread. Place a few lettuce leaves onto 4 of the 8 slices of bread.
Make the Tofish
In a medium bowl or small baking tray, mix the corn flour and spices together. Add the water and mix until smooth. Set aside.
In another bowl, place the panko bread crumbs and set aside.
On a flat surface, place the nori seaweed. Arrange the tofu squares on top of the seaweed. Using a sharp knife or scissors, cut around the tofu. The nori seaweed should stick nicely to the flat side of the tofu. If the nori hangs over the sides of the tofu just trim off the excess and repeat with all four slices.
Place a small frying pan with a lip of at least 1.5 inches over a medium low heat. Add around 1-2 cm of vegetable oil to the pan and slowly bring up to temperature.
Dunk a piece of tofu into the corn flour batter, flip it over and dunk the reverse, making sure the whole piece is coated and being careful not to remove the nori. Then dunk the battered slice of tofu into the panko breadcrumbs, flip over and dunk again. (You may need to press some panko into the tofu using your fingers - just make sure the whole slice is covered in panko). Repeat with the other slices of tofu.
Drop a pinch of breadcrumbs into the oil to make sure it’s hot (they should sizzle nicely) then, using tongs, pick up one slice of tofu and lay it carefully into the hot oil. Fry for around a minute on each side then remove from the oil and place on some kitchen towel to drain. Repeat with the other slices.
Place a slice of tofish on the 4 slices of bread which are topped with lettuce. Top the tofish with some pickled onions and the second slice of bread. Serve immediately.