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.
For the ‘chicken’
200g of firm tofu (drained but not pressed)
100g of vital wheat gluten*
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast*
1/2 teasoon of garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons of liquid seasoning* (or sub vegetable stock)
Salt and pepper
For the coating:
150 ml of aquafaba**
50g of flour
1 teaspoon of mixed herbs
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of dried ginger
1 tablespoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of white pepper
1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder
100g white breadcrumbs (approx. 3 slices of bread)
Salt and pepper
250ml of vegetable oil
Serves: 2 (generously)
1. Crumble the tofu into a bowl. Add the vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and then season generously with salt and pepper. Add the liquid seasoning (or vegetable stock if you prefer) and work the ingredients together with your hands. Once combined, you should be able to squeeze small amounts of the mixture together without it falling apart.
2. Set up three shallow bowls. Place the flour in one, the aquafaba in another, and the rest of the ingredients for the coating in the other. Combine the ingredients in the final bowl and season generously with salt and pepper.
3. Take a small amount of the ‘chicken’ mixture and roll into a ball. Dip first into the flour, then into the aquafaba, then finally into the breadcrumb mixture, making sure it is fully coated. Place the coated ‘chicken’ on a lined baking tray, and repeat until the ‘chicken’ mixture has run out.
4. In a small saucepan, heat the vegetable oil to around 180 degrees celcius. Place some of your vegan popcorn chicken pieces carefully into the oil (enough for one layer of pieces but try to avoid the pieces touching too much – you don’t want to crowd them). Fry until crispy – this should take 3-5 minutes. Take the cooked pieces out of the oil and place on some kitchen roll. Repeat this until all pieces are cooked.
5. Serve your vegan popcorn chicken with tomato ketchup for dipping.
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**Aquafaba is the liquid from a can of chickpeas.