Do you ever get a random idea and it works out on your first try!? That doesn’t usually happen to me, especially with recipes, but man-oh-man this one worked out! Battered and pan-fried tofu, dredged in buffalo sauce and smooshed between a toasty mayo-slathered crusty bread roll – this sandwich is so satisfying.
To be fair, this idea popped into my head because of this AMAZING creation I tried at Eat Drink Vegan (an all-vegan beer and food festival in LA). They had this sandwich that was fried tofu in a sliced donut bun. Probably the craziest thing I’ve ever eaten, but I was at the festival so hey, why not? It was glorious. In the way only something so decadent could ever be. My take on the fried tofu is a little more pedestrian, but also more accessible and a LITTLE healthier 🙂
This “battered and fried” concept might cause you to think that this recipe has too many steps and is therefore not for you. But you would be wrong. It’s actually very quick and easy to make. I made this when I was already hungry, so you know it couldn’t have been too time consuming!
Step number one with tofu is to press it. Wrap it in a clean dish towel (or several paper towels if you’re limited on your hand towels) and set it under something heavy, like a dutch oven, and let it squish down for about 30 minutes. The time it takes you to get everything else for the recipe out and ready to go is probably enough time. That’s what I did and it came out splendidly.
Grab three plates: one for the starch, one for the liquid, and one for the breadcrumbs.
I used arrowroot powder for both batches I tried and it worked out great. You can sub in cornstarch or all-purpose flour for this if you don’t have it. I’d suggest corn starch over the flour since it’s more finely groud and powdery.
I used (homemade) almond milk the first time I made this and I used aquafaba (the magic water left over from a can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans) the second time. I think the aquafaba was a better binder as it acted more like egg whites – which are the typical animal-based breading agent. But the almond milk was fine.
For the breadcrumbs, I tried both regular and panko. Both were equally delicious and super crunchy, so go with your preference on that front. Definitely go the aquafaba route if you plan to use panko breadcrumbs though because it’s more viscous and sticky to hold the chunkier pieces of crumbs.
Use a high-heat oil and a generous glug in the pan. I used avocado oil (which I get at Costco and use exclusively for cooking) and put maybe a quarter inch in the pan. I tried this in my regular go-to non-stick pan and also in my wide Le Creuset pan and both worked. So no need for a heavy-bottom pan or anything fancy.
Cook for about 4 minutes on each side and grab your buffalo hot sauce. I use the classic Frank’s – which I literally use for everything. Out of salad dressing? Grab the Frank’s. Need to spice up those leftovers? Grab the Frank’s. Love it #notpaid
Pull your beautifully fried tofu out of the pan and place it on a paper towel to drain off a little bit of the oil.
Douse it with the Frank’s. Don’t be shy – we’re going to be putting a bunch of cooling toppings on there so you can up the spice factor a little bit here.
Cut your fried fillet in half and get ready to assemble.
Toast your bread – or don’t; another preference point here. I like my bread toasted always. But if your bread is fresh or already crusty enough, leave it be.
Add a healthy amount of (vegan) mayo to both sides of the bread. My GO-TO recipe is from NYT Cooking and uses that magic bean water I told you about earlier: aquafaba.
Add the tofu and whatever toppings you’d like. Arugula is good. So are sprouts. Don’t forget the avocado. Cuz that ish goes on EVERYTHING here in California.
Smoosh it all together and admire your handy-work. You just made an amazing sandwich that even a non-vegan would enjoy. Just ask my sister. She thinks my no-animal-product lifestyle is crazy and she was eating this tofu (leftover and straight from the fridge) on its own. As she says, “anything fried is delicious”, and she’s definitely right in this case.
Just look at that sandwich. I was so pleased with how it came out. So pleased in fact that I made it again for my parents and they loved it too. A little messy, but hey, what good sandwich isn’t messy?
Cut it in half and DIG IN!
I hope you enjoy the sammy as much as I did.
Creativity comes to me when I’m put in a house with “nothing” in it. I’ve made some of my favorite creations with limited options in an “empty” cupboard and fridge.
Without further ado, here is my (to use a term from one of my fave food-related sites Food 52) Not-Recipe recipe.
Ok, a little more ado… I like the idea of a not-recipe because, more often than not, I am not cooking from a recipe. I am throwing things together and using a basic formula in my head to make sure it all comes together without being an inedible mess. People often ask me for the recipe to what I shared on Instagram, but I don’t usually HAVE a specific list and quantities of ingredients! So here we have a not-recipe.
Now, go make this sammy and tell me what you think! If you do try it, which you should, please tag me @lcalbie and/or #albaneats on Insta so I can see your interpretations 🙂
Buffalo Fried Tofu Sandwich
Yield one sandwich
You can easily double or quadruple this recipe but upping the quantities accordingly. Since they’re more of guidelines anyway… have at it!
- 1 package of firm or extra-firm tofu
- About 1/3 cup starch (arrowroot powder, cornstarch or AP flour)
- About 1/3 cup liquid (almond milk or aquafaba)
- About 1/3 cup breadcrumbs (regular, Italian-flavoring, or panko)
- Crusty bread roll or baguette
- Toppings (choose any or all of these)
- Vegan “mayo”
- Arugula, kale or romaine
- Sliced avocado
- Thinly sliced red onion
- Sliced tomatoes
- Sprouts (or sprouted peas/lentils)
- Open and drain your package of tofu and press for 20-30 minutes. To press, simply wrap in a towel and set under something heavy.
- Slice tofu “hamburger style” so you get three or four fillet slices depending on your knife skills (see photos above for thickness). For one sandwich, you’ll save the other slices for future use. If you’re going to make more, make more!
- Put your pan on the stove over medium high heat and fill with oil of choice about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch up the side. You want enough for a good sizzle, but not to cover the tofu.
- Set up your breading station with a separate plate or shallow bowl with each separately of the starch, liquid and breadcrumbs.
- Dip your tofu in this order: starch, liquid, breadcrumbs, shaking or letting it drip off the excess before moving to the next.
- GENTLY place your tofu in the pan and let fry up for 3-5 minutes. Flip and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
- Now either toast your bread or move straight on to the toppings.
- Spread on your mayo, add the tofu, and fill ‘er up with as many (or as few) toppings as you like.
- Mangia and enjoy!