Yes, vegan fried “chicken” and gravy! These were so meaty, and oh-so satisfying. Dunk it in some gravy and you have yourself a perfect match.
My sister’s exact words were “This is so good, I can live with this forever”–and this is coming from my omnivorous sister who loves her share of meat.
I love that fulfilling feeling I get when I hear from people who enjoy my recipes, most especially my family members and friends, who have tried my creations these past few years, both good and bad!
It’s usually a hit or miss when it comes to recipe development and trust me when I say I’ve had my fair share of failures. Though one of the ingredients I enjoy getting experimental with and still continuously being challenged by is tofu.
USING TOFU TO CREATE VEGAN “CHICKEN”
It’s such a versatile ingredient that when prepare in different ways, also yields very different tastes and textures.
What type of tofu to use?
For this recipe, I used extra firm tofu. It’s the easiest to handle and yields the “meatiest” texture when frozen.
So for this recipe, I froze my tofu!
Freezing tofu will change your life, trust me.
Do I need to press by tofu before freezing them? Nope!
You don’t need to press your tofu before freezing! It’s actually the water inside the tofu that helps create these layers since the water expands when it freezes.
How do I freeze tofu?
You can opt to do one of the following:
- Poke some holes on the tofu container and drain out the excess liquid
- Remove the water from the container, run it though some water (just to make sure to wash off any smell especially if it’s been soaking in that liquid for a while), before placing it back on the tray
Then just place the tray or container in the freezer to freeze your tofu! You can freeze it for days, even weeks, until you’re ready to use your tofu.
Other recipes using pre-frozen tofu to mimic that “meaty” texture:
After freezing the tofu
The ice seeps through the tofu, creating these layers, that can easily replicate meat. It’s amazing, really.
What if my tofu turns out spongey and don’t have these layers (as seen in the photos)?
I find that some extra tofu doesn’t hold together well after being frozen, even if it’s of the same firm or extra-firm type as others that do fine.
I believe this is from the curdling process done by the manufacturers, so it can be a hit or miss, depending on the type of tofu you have access to, and therefore it might take some trial and error at the beginning.
This is due to the type of curdling process done by the tofu producer, and practices may vary from one producer to the other.
I have other recipes where I actually also used extra firm tofu but from a different tofu store and supplier, where I ended up having spongey tofu (see photo above) but these pieces of tofu actually held together much better than the tofu I used for this recipe.
Pressing the Tofu AFTER freezing then thawing
After the freezing process, I took out the tofu from the freezer and left it to thaw for a few hours in room temperature.
If you live in a place with a colder climate, I recommend removing the tofu from the freezer at least 12 hours before to really be able to melt the ice in between.
Afterwards, I squeezed out the water from the tofu by placing them in between two boards, or by using a tofu press (if you have one).
Afterwards, I broke them into small pieces.
It’s quite challenging to have them break into evenly sized pieces so this is something you don’t need to fret about.
I prepared the flour mix and the flax egg mix for the tofu.
I then coated each piece in the flour.
There will be small pieces that you can clump together and coat in the flour as well.
Then basically repeat this for the rest of the pieces.
After each piece is coated in flour, I then soaked them in the flax ‘egg’ mixture.
Once the pieces are coated in the flax egg mixture, I roll them into the breadcrumbs.
Here are the coated pieces of “chicken” ready to be fried!
I heated a large cast iron pan with some oil over high heat. It’s good to cook the “chicken” in very high heat and only add it when the oil has small bubbles, to make sure the pieces immediately sizzle in the oil.
I fried each piece until golden brown and crisp.
I fried mine in neutral oil but you can also opt to bake or even air-fry these if you’re looking to use less oil.
You can see how amazing the texture is! I also highly recommend eating these while they’re hot and freshly cooked.
TO ENJOY YOUR VEGAN FRIED ‘CHICKEN’
Dip the “chicken” in some gravy (I share an easy homemade recipe below!) or in your favourite dipping sauce.
You can find the full recipe for the fried ‘chicken’ and gravy below! Enjoy!
You can also check out my other tofu recipes here or down below:
- Hakka-Style Stuffed Tofu
- Korean Spicy Braised Tofu
- Fried ‘Chicken’ and Gravy
- Tofu Katsu
- Nori-Wrapped Tofu in Spicy Sauce
- Maple Hoisin Tofu
- Orange Tofu
- Pan-Fried Tofu Cakes
- Tofu ‘McNuggets’
Are you looking for more delicious, vegan recipes?
You can get a copy of my cookbook, Vegan Asian!
If you crave vegan-friendly versions of classic Asian dishes, this cookbook is packed with Southeast and East Asian dishes inspired by those I grew up enjoying at home and those I’ve tried from my travels. From iconic Thai dishes to piping-hot Japanese fare and everything in between, the recipes in this will take your palate on a delicious food trip across Asia, and hopefully keep you coming back for more!
Vegan Fried “Chicken” and Gravy
- 500 g extra firm tofu , frozen overnight and thawed (I used two 250g blocks)
- Neutral oil for frying
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used Japanese breadcrumbs), added to leftover flour–ad more bread crumbs as needed
Freezing the Tofu
- Freeze the blocks of tofu at least overnight. I removed my tofu from the container with water that I usually store it in and simply placed them on a freezer-safe tray.No need to press or drain the excess liquid from the tofu since you'll be freezing it and it's the water that'll create the layers in between when the water freezes.
- You can basically opt to do one of the following to freeze your tofu:(1) Poke some holes on the tofu container and drain out the excess liquid OR (2) Remove the water from the container, run it though some water (just to make sure to wash off any smell especially if it’s been soaking in that liquid for a while), before placing it back on the tray.I prefer the latter (2nd option).
- After freezing it, thaw the blocks for a few hours in room temperature. Squeeze out the liquid using two flat surfaces. Ensure that the liquid is drained out really well. You can also opt to use a tofu press.
Vegan Fried “Chicken”
- Prepare the flax egg by mixing the water, flax meal, and salt. Set aside and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes until thick.
- Slowly break apart the pieces using a knife or your hands. You can follow the natural breaks of the tofu. There will be small pieces that you can clump together so don’t worry, nothing will go to waste!You can see more photos in the blog post above.
- Afterwards, roll and coat each piece in the flour mixture. For the smaller pieces, you will need to clump and squeeze them together before and after rolling them into the flour mixture for them to stick together.
- After coating each piece into the flour, add 1/2 cup breadcrumbs into the leftover flour mixture. Mix well.
- Dip each piece of tofu into the flax egg mixture.
- Transfer onto the breadcrumb and flour mixture then coat well.
- Repeat this step for the rest of the pieces until all pieces are coated and breaded.
Cooking the Tofu
- See notes below for the baking option.Heat a large pan with the oil. I used a cast iron pan and added enough oil to submerge at least half of the pieces in oil. Once very hot and the oil has small bubbles, slowly add in the tofu pieces.
- The pieces of tofu should immediately and rapidly sizle when placed in the oil. Fry the tofu in high heat until golden brown and crisp, turning each piece halfway through. Once golden brown, remove from the oil and transfer into a strainer to drain any excess oil. Turn off the heat.
- Enjoy while hot with some gravy (recipe below) or your favourite dipping sauce!
- Note: the small pieces of tofu that were clumped together will naturally have layers of flour inside, but its still very good!
- In a small sauce pan pan, heat the oil or butter. Add in the flour and mix until a paste is formed.
- While mixing, add in the water/vegetable broth until the paste has dissolved. Afterwards, add in the onion powder, pepper, soy sauce, and salt, to taste.
- Mix well and simmer for 5-10 minutes over medium heat until thick and smooth. You can opt to use an immersion blender to easily dissolve the lumps of flour that can form.
- Taste the gravy and feel free to season with more salt, if needed. This is best enjoyed while hot!You can also store this in the refrigerator once completely cooled, then just heat it up again when ready to use. Can last up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Note that it will thicken up when cold, but will return to its regular consistency when heated.
You can opt to use an immersion blender to easily dissolve the lumps of flour that can form