Tofu has such a bad rep in the U.S. Whenever I mention tofu, I usually get a variation on responses such as “It’s bland. It’s tasteless. It’s weird. It’s gross.”
Weird? Gross? I think sausage is weird, but I eat it. I think cottage cheese is really weird, but I’ve tried it. I find baby-backed ribs in barbecue sauce slightly off-putting. I find the idea of deep-fried Oreos/Snickers/Butter (yes, a whole stick of butter!) gross, but I would never say it to your face. I mention tofu and people feel no compunction in disparaging a major food component of my life to my face.
Personally, I love tofu. Certainly the taste is mild, but to a discerning palate, there is a slightly nutty taste. Especially with fresh tofu. Also, the beauty of tofu is that it absorbs a great deal of flavor from the other ingredients. If you’re eating tasteless tofu, perhaps it wasn’t cooked right.
A family favorite is the pan-fried tofu, but it isn’t the healthiest dish. With the flour and egg batter, the frying requires quite a bit of oil.
While shopping at H-Mart, I came across a sample station serving tofu patties using this mix below. After tasting a few patties and with encouragement from Soso, I grabbed a package to try at home.
The mix was easy to use and the tofu patties cooked quickly, with much less oil. While using a packaged mix is easy, I wanted to replicate the mix from scratch for two reasons. Even at a 20 – 25 minute drive, I don’t get to H-Mart often. Also, I wanted to come up with a vegan recipe in case I ever needed it for our vegan friends.
The basic ingredients required for the mix is salt, pepper and panko breadcrumbs. I’m not sure if regular breadcrumbs can be used. I thought the Panko crumbs’s coarser texture would bind the crumbled tofu better, especially since I wasn’t using any egg.
Other ingredients may vary, depending on what’s on hand or the flavor you want. Want an Indian feel? Add a combination of cumin, coriander and turmeric powder. Want some spice, add paprika or chili powder. Want an Asian taste, throw in some soy sauce or teriyaki sauce. Want an Italian taste, add some garlic, parsley, oregano, basil, etc. You get the picture. Mix it all together well, form patties and pan-fry lightly. Without the egg, smaller patties work best. The bigger patties tend to crumble during flipping. I’ve wondered if baking or broiling would work, but I haven’t tried it yet.
By the way, if you go to a store like H-mart, the choices can be overwhelming. I’ve tried all the major brands and while I’ll eat them all, I like Pulmone Organic Firm Tofu the best.
Here, I served it with steamed rice and green beans sautéed in garlic and olive oil.
Vegan Tofu Patties
Prep time: 10 mins Cook time: 15 mins
*The following list of ingredients is my “go-to” mix for a slightly “oriental” flavor. Feel free to experiment!
1 package (14 – 18 ounces) firm tofu, drained and gently squeezed to remove excess water
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs (more if needed)
2 tablespoon fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, chives or scallion), minced
1 clove garlic, minced fine or grated (1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger (1/8 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon soy sauce
In a medium size bowl, mash tofu lightly with a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well with hands (I wear food preparation gloves). Form small patties to your preference.
In a large non-stick frying pan on medium to medium-high heat, add enough oil (canola, peanut, olive oil) to coat the pan. When pan is hot, add patties without touching. Fry both sides until lightly golden.
These can be made ahead of time and re-heated.