I’m going to come right out and say it: food is amazing. I know, you all know it already, but I feel the need to talk about it for a sec. The thing that really gets me is how universal it is – it’s a language where flavour profiles and spices become dialects and expressions. Meanwhile, an endless ingredient list allows for unlimited combinations that can be both surprising and delicious, e.g. maple and cajun…. whaaaat?
I love talking food to folks. It’s one of the best ways to pick up tips, tricks and amazing recipe ideas. This particular recipe is the result of a conversation with my Momma – we’re constantly talking about food, relating the last “absolutely amazingly delicious” dish we each made. As you may or may not know, I’ve been trying to cut out wheat and reduce carbs. It’s forced me to get creative, and all in all it’s been a great experience (at home anyway, travelling is one hell of a challenge). I was looking for a way to create a delectable crust without flour, and my Momma suggested nuts. Total genius, and it worked to a tee (see below).
I haven’t made any musical recommendations lately, so here’s one for the books: stick on Florence and the Machine‘s 2009 album Lungs and hop to it. Just be prepared to go out and get their 2011 album Ceremonials if you do, because they’re addictive.
- 1 block firm tofu, rinsed, drained, patted dry and cut into slabs (or chunks – whatever you prefer – but the thinner the slab, the crispier the result)
- 1/4 cup ground flax or chia seeds
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 3/4 to 1 cup of shelled, salted pistachios (you may need more depending on how many sous-chefs you have helping, since they may mysteriously disappear while you’re prepping)
- 2 tbsp cornmeal (optional, you can just add more sesame seeds if you prefer)
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp white and black sesame seeds
- 1/4 tsp of fresh, finely chopped rosemary, garlic thyme, garlic scapes and/or thyme (optional but any combination is delicious)
- a few tbsp olive or coconut oil (enough to coat the bottom of your pan)
First, you need to prep your tofu (or whatever else you’re breading – I’ve used oyster mushrooms to great satisfaction) by ensuring it’s drained and as dry as possible. Then, combine the flax, water, smoked paprika and sea salt in a shallow dish. Set it aside and start working on your pistachios: you want to grind them down using a spice mill or a food processor. Basically, you want a coarse dust though, not chopped nuts, so keep that in mind when choosing your tool. If you can do it by hand, more power to you. Once the pistachios are fine enough, add the cornmeal, pepper, sesame seeds and herbs.
Add the oil to a large frying pan after heating it over medium-high heat, and start your tofu assembly line: first dip the tofu into the flax batter, then into the nut dust-bath, ensuring an even coating. From there, place it right into the frying pan – that way you’ll lose the least amount of crust. Then go through the rest of the tofu. Try to remember which piece went in first, because you’ll be flipping them in the same order (there will be about 2 minutes difference between the pieces). Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until they’re a nice golden brown, then flip and cook for another 3-5 minutes. When ready, remove from the pan and place on a paper towel to drain off any excess oil (there won’t be much) and then serve.