A couple of times a year, I stock up on veggie “fish”, either at the Asian market, or at a vegan Chinese restaurant that has a cooler from which the proprietors sell various meat substitutes for the diners to take home with them. The fish is wrapped in seaweed and sliced into oval-shaped slices.
Although the “fish” is extremely delicious, I’ve wanted to come up with my own tofu version for a while. For one thing, the veggie fish is expensive: $8 for a 600 g package, which works out to be $6 a pound. Also, the two places that carry it are on the other side of town. Finally, I wouldn’t want to share what I make with you if I thought you couldn’t get the primary ingredient! If you do have the veggie fish available, though, you can make this by skipping the nori step and the flour-dredging step and dipping it directly in the batter. Speaking of the batter, I came up with it by replacing some of the flour in a classic tempura batter with cornmeal. It’s a great batter, because leftovers have a nice texture when reheated the next day. Try it with some button mushrooms sometime.
1 14-ounce/400 g package firm tofu
1 sheet nori, torn into pieces
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup cornstarch
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oil
1 cup water
Canola oil for frying
Drain the tofu and press for 20 minutes or more: wrap the tofu block in a dish towel or several paper towels. Place on a plate, top with another plate, and add some weight. The weight can be a heavy skillet or a few full cans.
In a blender, grind the nori with the Old Bay seasoning and salt.
Put 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour on a plate or pie pan.
Cut tofu into three slices and then cut each slice into four strips. Sprinkle about half the nori mixture onto the tofu and press into the slices. Turn the tofu over and repeat with the remaining nori mixture.
In a large skillet, heat about an inch of canola oil to medium-hot, 365 F to 375 F.
Combine the remaining 1/2 cup flour with cornmeal, cornstarch, baking powder, sugar, salt, 1 teaspoon oil and water. Stir until smooth. Dredge each tofu strip in the dry flour (this will allow the batter to stick), then dip in the batter. Fry about 1/2 the strips at a time. Cook until golden on the bottom, turn over, and cook until the other side is golden. Drain on paper towels.
Serve on buns with lettuce, tomato and cocktail sauce.
1/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
A few drops Tabasco sauce (optional)
Combine all ingredients. (I usually take everything to the table along with spoons and small bowls and let everyone mix their own.)