Baking · Edibles

Breaded Tofu Sticks & Chicken Strips

Hello, folks! I am back with yet another recipe. I am trying to get into a routine where I write each Saturday, so this makes my third post this week! I haven’t really done anything creative in the last few days, but I made these appetizers last week for some friends who came to dinner, and I thought I would share this here.

This may require a tiny bit of planning ahead because these strips taste so much better with the extra prep time and marination. As far as the breading is concerned, you can take an hour out of your schedule and make a whole bunch of these to freeze for later. When you want some, just spray lightly with some oil and bake them. If you prefer a crunchier version, deep fry them.

I made a giant batch with both tofu and chicken. The quantities for the marinade are for 1 block of tofu and 1 large chicken breast. If you are making a smaller batch, halve the amount of marinade for one block of tofu or one chicken breast.

Breaded tofu sticks & chicken strips

You will need:

  • Firm or extra-firm tofu – 1 block
  • Chicken breast – 1
  • Oil – to fry or spray for baking

For the marinade:

  • Soy sauce (I use light) – 2 tbsp
  • Chilli sauce or Sambal Oelek – 4 tbsp (less if you want a milder version)
  • Honey – 3 tsp
  • Ginger & garlic paste – 1½ tsp each

For the coating:

  • All-purpose flour, seasoned with a pinch of salt
  • Milk or eggs, seasoned with a pinch of salt
  • Toasted bread crumbs or Panko crumbs, seasoned with herbs or salt (as desired)

How to make:

1. If you are using tofu, drain the block and press it firmly to squeeze out some of the water. Wrap the block in large pieces of paper towels. If you have tea towels, wrap those around the paper towel-covered blocks. Place the covered tofu on a plate, and place another plate face down on top of the block. Place some weights on top of the plate (books work quite well!). Leave it in this state for a couple of hours to overnight, to squeeze out as much water as possible. Tofu is like a sponge; the more water you can press out, the more of the marinade will be absorbed and the better it will taste.

If you are using chicken, this step is optional. I like to brine chicken breasts for at least an hour because the meat gets seasoned perfectly and tastes so much more juicy & moist. To brine, fill a bowl with water, and add about 1½ teaspoons of salt for every cup of water. You can also add some herbs for added flavour – I use oregano, rosemary, basil, and/or thyme – and ginger paste. Let it sit in the brining solution for at least an hour, and up to a day. I usually have a couple of brined, frozen chicken breasts ready for use – just let the chicken soak in the brining solution for 24 hours, and then freeze them in individual freezer bags.

{Why is brining so great? In very simple terms, when you brine chicken (or any other meat), the salt breaks down some of the protein in the muscle fibers and water from the brining solution forms stable bonds with the broken-down proteins. Some water also gets trapped in between the muscle fibers. As a result, when you cook the meat, there is less moisture lost from the meat. Even though flavours from the herbs get absorbed to some degree, a simple brine consisting of just salt and water works very well too.}

2.Cut the tofu into strips about 1 cm in width. Cut the chicken into strips.

3. Mix all the marinade ingredients. Add to the tofu and/or chicken. Let it marinate for at least 2 hours to a full day.

4. Now comes the fun part – breading! Place into three separate dishes the flour, milk and bread crumbs. A shallow dish or plate usually works best. You will be using both hands in this step, so set up your assembly line before you begin. Place an empty baking sheet or dish close to your work area so that you have somewhere to put the breaded sticks.

First, place a tofu/chicken strip into the seasoned flour. Coat evenly on all sides. Now, drop it in the dish containing the milk/egg, and coat evenly on all sides. Next, place it in the dish containing the bread crumbs, and coat evenly. Press the bread crumbs lightly into the strip to set them, and gently shake off any loose crumbs. Place the breaded strip in the empty baking sheet or plate, and you’re ready to move on to the next one! One thing that really helps during this process is to use one hand for handling the “dry ingredient” plates (i.e. flour and bread crumbs) and the other for the “wet ingredient” plate (i.e.milk or egg). If you use the same hand for all the plates, you will end up with a soggy mess.

5. If you are baking them immediately, preheat your oven to 400F. Spray a thin coating of oil on the baking sheet, then place the breaded strips in a single layer. Spray another thin layer of oil on top. Once the oven is hot, bake for 20 minutes, flipping the strips halfway through.

If you want to store them for later, arrange the strips in a single layer on a baking sheet or plate. Freeze for a couple of hours. Once they are frozen, you can place them in a freezer bag or box, and they should not stick together. When you are ready to bake them, preheat the oven, and then proceed to bake them straight out of the freezer, adding an additional 5 minutes per side. I don’t like to thaw them because they might release water, ruining the breading.

Enjoy with your favourite dipping sauce(s)! 

 

 

 

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