Tofu "Fish Sticks" or "Fish Fillets" or just call them breaded tofu cutlets if you prefer.
This is a GREAT recipe if you've been missing those crunchy, easy-to-bake fish-stick thingys that you might have grown up on.
But even if you were never a "fish" fan, you need this in your tofu repertoire, especially if you have little ones at home. Because they'll probably LOVE it. Or you will.
This was a frequent request when my kids were younger. Now that I only have one Sprout at home, it gets made less often, as she's not a fan of fish-y sorts of things, but they're easy to make, re-heat great and make great sandwiches, so I still whip up "fish stick tofu" for myself every now and again.
That's OK. I never ate "real" fish-sticks or fish fillets or fish sandwiches or fish anything... and my older girls (who sometimes eat the "real" thing when they don't have MY cooking available, still request these when they come home.)
I think we've managed a pretty good (and much more healthy!!) substitute, especially since the fish-eaters said they really like it!
The idea sorta came from Jennifer and her "Vegan Lunch Box" cookbook, (I got a lot of inspiration for vegan kid-friendly food from her years ago) but through the years, I have altered it many times over to suit my family and the ingredients we preferred.
This is a recipe you can play with! My recipe is just a guideline. If you don't have all the exact dry ingredients, use what you have, it really turns out fine (just different) without the cornmeal or with more Panko breadcrumbs or whatever you want!!
- 1 lb. package firm tofu, drained, patted dry
- 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 Tbsp cornmeal
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs (Panko if you have them but any crumbs work)
- 1/2 cup cornflakes
- 2/3 cup sliced almonds (other nuts work, but almonds seem to have the best texture here)
- 2 tsp. kelp granules or flakes or crumbled Nori or any seaweed-y thing you might have
- several shakes of cayenne
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. onion powder
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp celery salt
- 1/4 tsp lemon pepper
- 2/3 cup plain, unsweetened soymilk
- 2 Tbsp Vegenaise (or other vegan mayo)
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1/4 tsp. dry dill weed
Combine dry ingredients, EXCEPT cornflakes, and blend on high in food processor or blender until most of the almonds have been turned into a coarse meal, with a few larger pieces of almond remaining. Throw in the cornflakes and just pulse once or twice to crumble a BIT but not pulverize into dust. Pour the mixture into a wide baking dish or pie plate.
Mix soymilk, Veganaise, dill and lemon juice. Pour into another shallow dish.
Cut the tofu into even slices (or "sticks") just under ½-inch wide.
Dip the tofu first into the soymilk, then gently into the dry mixture, patting to coat evenly.
Heat oven to 350°.Carefully, place tofu pieces on a baking sheet. When all the tofu "fish" are on the baking sheet, mist them with olive oil. (I have an oil mister/sprayer that works well for this.)
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until coating is starting to brown.
Carefully turn the tofu over and bake for an additional 15+ minutes, or until coating is looking browned and somewhat crispy. If they are not getting brown, turn on broiler for JUST a few moments, but watch carefully as they will over-brown easily.
You can also pan-fry if you want, I think they get a little crispier, but baking is going to use a lot less oil. Your choice.
Serve with lemon and vegan "tarter sauce" (or whatever dipping sauce is preferred at your house) or in a sandwich.
So. The really great thing about these tofu sticks? They can be made ahead and reheated in the oven quickly for little ones who need to be fed NOW! I almost like the texture better when they're reheated, a little drier and more chewy...
(My kids even ate them cold out of the fridge!) I get a little nostalgic, remembering the many times I shared lunch with my kids, having my "fish sticks" in a sandwich while they dunked theirs in ketchup.