This is the one. THIS is the dish that changed my mind about tofu. I doubted and DOUBTED that I would ever really enjoy a slab of tofu. Of course it was Sabrina that proved me wrong. She would. That's just how she rolls. She took one of our favorite Japanese/Hawaiian meals, Chicken Katsu, and turned it into a vegetarian dish. I couldn't believe the deep flavor she got from marinating and pressing the tofu. This crisp-crunchy texture she achieved by properly breading and frying it made it delightful to keep cutting into. The Island Mac Salad provided a nice, creamy sweetness, that also paired well with the sweet and sour Katsu sauce she drizzled on the crunchy tofu. It was AMAZING!!
Prep the tofu and make some Katsu:
- 1 pkg. extra firm tofu, drained
- ⅓ cup Trader Joe's Soyaki marinade/sauce
- 2 cups Panko bread crumbs
- 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 cup AP flour
- 4 tsp Aleppo pepper
- salt and pepper
- 1 ½ cups peanut oil
Carefully cut tofu in half horizontally, so that you have two 3" x 3" x 1" pieces. Place a kitchen towel on a sheet pan or plate, and lay the cut tofu squares on top of the towel. Place another towel on top of the tofu, and place another sheet pan or plate on top, being sure to weigh it down with a large can of tomatoes, etc. Let drain in the fridge for 4 hours, or overnight.
Place pressed tofu in a small dish, and baste with Soyaki, being sure to get all sides. Let marinate in fridge, uncovered for 15 min. Brush tofu again with the marinade, and let rest in fridge for another 15 min. Brush tofu again, and let rest for 15 more min.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325º F. Prep a breading station with three dishes, each with the following:
Dish 1- 2 beaten eggs with a little water added
Dish 2- Flour mixed with 2 tsp Aleppo pepper and ½ tsp kosher salt
Dish 3- Panko mixed with 2 tsp Aleppo pepper and ½ tsp kosher salt
Remove marinated pressed tofu from fridge, and pat each patty dry with paper towels, and set aside. Dredge one patty at a time, first in the flour (shaking off excess), then dipped in the egg mixture, and then the Panko mixture, coating well. Let patties rest on a wire rack placed on a sheet pan, uncovered in the fridge for about 5 min. Take patties out and coat each one in the egg mixture, then the Panko breadcrumbs. Place back on the wire rack and chill for another 5 min. Take the patties out and dip and coat one last time. Let rest back in fridge for about 5 more min.
Place a cast iron skillet filled with 1" of peanut oil over medium-high heat. Heat oil to 375º F. Place patties, one at a time in the oil, and fry each side for 2 - 3 min. until golden brown and crisp. Reserve fried tofu to a wire rack on a sheet pan, and place in oven to keep warm.
When ready to plate, carefully cut each fried tofu on the bias, and serve slices over rice, drizzled with fresh made Katsu Sauce and Island Mac Salad (recipe shown below).
For the Island Mac Salad:
- 2 cups dried Gnochetti pasta, (or use dried macaroni)
- 1 small carrot, peeled and shredded
- 1 small red onion, grated, rinsed and drained
- ¾ cup prepared mayo
- ¼ cup Kewpie (Japanese mayo), or just use regular mayo with a little vinegar added
- 2 tsp Sriracha sauce
- 1 Tbls finely shredded parmesan
- 2 tsp cracked black pepper
- ½ cup pineapple chunks, drained
In a large pot over high heat, boil some salted water and add pasta, being sure to cook to al dente (see manufacture's instructions). Drain and rinse pasta briefly with cold water to stop the cooking process. Return drained pasta to warm pot, off the heat. Once pasta looks dry, place in bowl to cool off. In a small bowl, mix mayo, kewpie, sriracha, parmesan and 1 tsp pepper together. Add half the mayo mixture, shredded carrots, onion and pineapple chunks to the cooled pasta and stir well. Add more mayo mixture if necessary, but be sure to save a little for later. Chill, covered in the fridge of at least an hour.
When ready to serve, add more pepper and salt to taste, along with more of the mayo dressing as needed.
Home-made Katsu Sauce:
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup ketchup
1 cup sugar
1 cup chicken stock
½ cup + ½ cup water, reserved
⅓ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp white pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder
2 - 3 dashes Tabasco sauce
½ tsp cornstarch
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together all ingredients except the reserved ½ cup water and cornstarch. Bring to a boil, and simmer for about 5 min. Whisk the cornstarch into the reserved water and whisk into the simmering mixture. Bring back up to a simmer, and let sauce thicken for about a minute or two. Continue to simmer until sauce is thick like a BBQ sauce.