I’ve used vital wheat gluten* to make seitan a few times before in recipes for the blog (see my ‘pork’ and apple sausage rolls recipe and my seitan and sundried tomato bites recipe) but this time round I decided to mix it with tofu to make a vegan ‘chicken’ based dish. The result was this vegan popcorn chicken recipe – the tofu and vital wheat gluten work well together in creating the perfect texture for the vegan chicken, and coated in the delicious breadcrumb mix it’s hard to distinguish from what I remember ‘real’ or non-vegan popcorn chicken tasting like.
If you’re not a fan of deep frying, you can always bake these in the oven instead – I’d recommend cooking them with a drizzle of oil for around 20 minutes at 200 degrees celcius.
I love tofu – as well as being a great alternative for meat in main dishes (see my beer battered tofish recipe and my vegan fishcake recipe) it’s also a great source of protein. However, I often see cries of help from new vegans who want to eat it but aren’t sure how to prepare or cook it. The first thing you need to make sure is that you buy the correct tofu for the dish you are making. In a main meal where you will be cutting the tofu up into chunks, you’re going to want firm or extra firm tofu. Next, you need to press the tofu to get rid of the excess water and make it easier to cut and handle. I’d recommend investing in a tofu press (I use and love this Tofuture one*) as it saves balancing books and cans on baking trays.
So that’s the preparation done. In terms of cooking, I always advise that baking is the easiest way to cook tofu – it gives it a great texture – firm on the outside but soft on the inside. You also want to make sure that you use ingredients with it that are full of flavour. Tofu doesn’t have much taste eaten as it is so the biggest worry is making a bland dish. By making a marinade or sauce with tasty ingredients, the tofu will soak up the flavour, as it does with this lime coriander tofu dish.
This dish uses just eight ingredients and requires minimal prep work, so it’s easy to chuck in the oven after 5 minutes and just leave it to bake while you get on with other things.