The “V” Word celebrates VeganMoFo, a month of Vegan food, with the other 25 letters of the alphabet. We are up to the letter “F” and what better word for the letter “F” than my one remaining vice – “Fried.” Today “F” is for Fried Buttermilk Tofu.
Along my journey, I have eliminated a lot of things from my diet. First it was MSG, high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors. Then I got rid of white, refined foods such as sugar, flour and rice and switched to whole grain, unrefined versions. Next was the big step – after watching “Meet Your Meat,” I gave up meat and became a vegetarian. As soon as I learned about the horrors of the dairy and egg industry, I became a Vegan.
I thought the journey would end there but I was wrong. While I had gotten healthier and lost a ton of weight (well, not a ton but 116 lbs.), my journey took another turn. In an effort to help my immune system, I became gluten-free and eliminated processed foods from my diet. I have even significantly cut back on my soy intake, limiting it to once or twice a week. Now I eat a healthy, whole-foods, plant-based diet.
But there is one thing I still can’t let go: oil. I know I should seriously limit my fat intake and honestly, I don’t fry foods very often. Before I started my journey, fried foods were my weakness (and accordingly, what made my health weak). You can keep your cakes, cookies and ice cream. There is no sweet tooth here. I marched to the beat of fried, crunchy and salty.
In the old days when I wanted comfort food, I craved fried chicken, mashed potatoes and peas (see, there were veggies in my meal, so there!) Now when I’m craving meals like this and another kale salad just ain’t gonna do it, I indulge in a healthier and much more compassionate version.
This dish uses buttermilk. Vegan, of course. It’s funny – I have never tasted dairy buttermilk and I never will. My father used to love it. Adding vinegar to any milk gives you buttermilk so I made some out of almond milk. My favorite gluten-free flour is chickpea flour but you can use whichever flour you like best. The amount of hot sauce is up to you also. Use a little, use a lot or don’t use any at all. The tofu comes out crispy, juicy and decadent.
I served my Fried Buttermilk Tofu with a side of mashed potatoes and peas. Just like the old days and yet nothing like the old days. Healthy and delicious. Guilt-free indulgence. Well, almost guilt-free. The journey continues…
Fried Buttermilk Tofu
1 cup buttermilk (1 cup almond milk + 1 Tbs. vinegar)
2 Tbs. – ¼ cup hot sauce (depending on your desired level of heat)
1 block extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed (used thawed frozen tofu for firmer texture)
½ cup chickpea flour
1 Tbs. onion powder
1 Tbs. paprika
1 Tbs. garlic powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
Safflower or peanut oil for frying
Prepare the buttermilk by adding the vinegar to the almond milk and let it sit for a few minutes while you prepare the tofu. Cut the tofu into slices or cubes or whatever shape you desire. I prefer thin rectangles.
In a bowl or resealable bag, combine the buttermilk and hot sauce. Add the tofu, toss gently to coat. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or longer.
In a bowl or shallow plate, combine the flour and spices. Remove the tofu from the marinade one piece at a time and coat with the flour mixture.
In a large skillet, heat the oil and fry the tofu in batches until crispy and golden brown on both sides, about 8 minutes total. Serve with your favorite side dishes.
The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it.