Saturday, October 24, 2009

Chile Cornmeal-Crusted Tofu Po’ Boys

Hi again, Elizavegan fans; guest post partner blogger here with another yummy recipe for you. Wednesdays are particularly nuts for our local goddess, so I thought some good comfort food would be just the thing at the end of the day. Looking for ideas, I flipped through the Veganomicon, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s bible of culinary delights: it’s adventurous, eclectic, sometimes traditional, sometimes gonzo, and you’ll never get to the bottom of it. This is a pretty minimal revision of their version of a fishy po’boy. I first tasted a (fishy) po’boy in New Orleans some years ago, and I remember liking it a lot, despite the fact that (i) the party I was with had real trouble getting a restaurant table in the Faubourg Marigny at a busy weekend time (ii) we had consequently been substituting drink for food (iii) it got to be very late, and (iv) when the Po’ Boy finally appeared before me, though it was truly delicious, it seemed that the bread was too firm for the overall mise-en-scène, and the result was somewhat of a mess in my mouth and on the plate and table, and my lap. I daresay this was the point of the whole dish, and I’m just finicky, and perhaps had had one too many drinks at that time. Excellent nonetheless, and well worthy of adaptation. As I say, I didn’t mess much with Isa and Terry’s recipe. The main differences are:

(i) For the mayo, I started with dried chipotle peppers and soaked them in boiling water for an hour or two, instead of using canned peppers. It’s pretty similar – I just enjoy soaking dried things.
(ii) Instead of making coleslaw, I just bought broccoli slaw from the supermarket and threw it right into the mayo.
(iii) I thought a baguette might be too stiff for this sandwich (perhaps I was still traumatized by the big mess in NOLA), so I substituted a “Portuguese Roll” (???) from the same local supermarket, which seemed to me a step up in soft trashiness from the ubiquitous “bulkie roll.” Whatever – this stuff is going to taste good on anything!

Chile Cornmeal-Crusted Tofu Po’ Boy
(slightly adapted from Veganomicon)

The Tofu

~Corn or other vegetable oil for frying
~1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed for 1 hour (following Desdemona’s lead on this, I put several layers of paper towel underneath it, several above it, then wrapped it in a small towel and put a cast iron frypan and a couple of big cans of food on top. A lot of water will come out of it)
~1 cup soy or rice milk
~2 tablespoons cornstarch
~1 cup cornmeal
~2 tablespoons chili powder
~1 teaspoon ground cumin
~½ teaspoon cayenne
~1 tablespoon grated lime zest
~1 ½ teaspoons salt

~Slice the tofu widthwise into eight slices, then cut each of those slices in half diagonally – from the upper left corner to the lower right corner – so that you have sixteen long triangles. Set aside.
~Combine the soy milk and cornstarch in a wide, shallow bowl. Mix vigorously with a fork until the cornstarch is mostly dissolved.
~In another shallow bowl, toss together the cornmeal, spices, lime zest, and salt.
~Heat about ¼ inch of oil in a large skillet (cast iron or nonstick) over medium heat. To test if the oil is ready, sprinkle in a pinch of batter. When the batter sizzles and bubbles form rapidly around it, you’re good to go.
~Dip each individual tofu slice in the soy milk mixture. Drop it into the cornmeal with your wet hand and use your other (dry) hand to dredge it in the mixture, so that it’s coated on all sides. I managed to do it all in one large pan without crowding; if it seems crowded, do two batches.
~Fry tofu for 3 minutes on one side, use tongs to flip over each piece, and fry for 2 more minutes. Admire it while it cooks, cuz it’s so purty.
~Drain the fried tofu on a clean paper bag or paper towels.

The Spread

~½ cup vegenaise
~2 dried or canned chipotles
~½ cup slaw (I used brocolli/carrot/cabbage slaw, but any bought or homemade slaw will do)

~If you’re using dried chipotles, soak them in ½ cup boiling water for two hours, then chop them finely. Combine all ingredients. If you want to thin it out a bit, pour in a little of the soaking or canned liquid – it will increase the agreeably smoky spiciness.
~Slice and toast your rolls or bread. For extra excitement, discard the frying oil but leave a bit in the pan, then grill the rolls in that for a minute or so. Yum!
~Put three triangles of tofu and a dollop of spread on each roll, and laissez les bons temps rouler!!!


  1. *jaw drops*
    That has just made my tummy rumble.

  2. Oh, these are so good!

  3. Totally classic. Of course, you can also bake the tofu, but I doubt I will ever do that!

  4. Note to self: get a tofu press!