I recently made sabzi polo, a flavorful Persian rice dish made with loads of fresh herbs. Most of the recipes I read mentioned serving it with a simple whitefish fillet, just lightly dipped in flour and fried.
I searched and searched the internet for a vegan recipe that would work well as a substitute. I found lots of recipes for beer-battered and cornmeal-crusted tofu fish, but none of them seemed right to pair with my Persian dish. I just wanted something simple but that had a fishlike flavor.
Finally I improvised (a rare but growing phenomenon in my cooking life) and it was a success! It's got a very mild flavor, so you'll want to serve it with a sauce or other very flavorful sides. But it's a fairly unique and pleasant way to eat tofu.
- 1 block tofu, well-drained & -pressed & cut into 8 slices
- 1 T lemon juice
- 1 T oil plus more for frying
- 2 t kelp granules
- 1/2 t garlic powder
- 3 T water
- 1 nori sheet
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup flour of choice
Mix lemon juice, oil, 1 t of the kelp, the garlic powder, the water, and some salt & pepper (1/2 t & 1/4 t to start?). Lay the nori sheet in a wide shallow dish and pour in the marinade. Place the tofu cutlets on top.* Marinate for 30 minutes, flipping occasionally so both sides soak up the marinade.
Meanwhile, mix the flour, remaining kelp, and more salt & pepper in a small bowl, and heat some oil in a wide nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Dip both sides of each tofu cutlet lightly in the flour mixture and drop each piece into the skillet. Fry about 5 minutes on each side or until they turn a light golden color.
NOTE: When you start cooking, the marinade will seep out and cause it too look like they're just poaching in water. But if you let them fry and don't disturb them, they will develop a thin but pleasantly crispy crust.
Serve with -- whatever you think would go well with a nice mild whitefish fillet!
* As I was taking the tofu out some of the nori broke off and clung to the tofu, and those bites were especially delicious. So next time I think I'll cut the nori into rectangles that match the tofu and deliberately get as much of it to stick to the tofu as possible.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.