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Vegan Tofu Sliders with Tangy Purple Coleslaw
The first time I tried these sliders, I was a little overwhelmed with a feeling of satisfaction, which doesn't happen often when I'm experimenting with a new recipe. I guess it's not all that surprising when you consider the ingredients—pretty much anything tastes great when you put it on a fresh bun with a bed of tangy coleslaw. But the well spiced fried tofu in this recipe seems to get along particularly well with the coleslaw. The contrasts in flavour and texture make each bite a mini-adventure. It's in my regular lunch rotation. (When I'm packing it for a lunch, I keep the coleslaw separate from the buns until I'm ready to eat. Not a fan of soggy bread, and the sandwiches are pretty easy to make wherever you happen to be at lunchtime.)
I had to learn to make coleslaw from scratch, which was new for me. Keep in mind that a regular sized cabbage is going to make way too much for six sandwiches. I figure you can never have too much salad fixings in the fridge, and you'll find uses for the extra coleslaw. (It's really nice all by itself between two slices of rye toast.) But if you don't want that much, maybe you can find the cabbage sold as a half head, or get a ready-made bag of it in a smaller quantity.
Six small sandwich buns
350 g (12 oz.) extra firm tofu, sliced into six sandwich-sized slices and then soaked in brine (2 tsp salt in 2 cups water) for 8 hours in the refrigerator
2 Tbl nutritional yeast
1 Tbl corn starch
1 tsp black salt (kala namak) or 1/2 tsp regular salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
vegetable oil for pan frying
one head of purple cabbage, thinly sliced (makes about 600 g (20 oz.), sliced)
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
I made the buns for this recipe from scratch, using the excellent vegan milk bread recipe from Mary's Test Kitchen. To get them the right size, I divided the dough into 8 buns and baked them a little more than 15 minutes.
Any round sandwich-sized bun will do.
The extra firm tofu that I like comes in a brick-sized package. To make six sandwich-sized pieces, I first cut the brick in half, then cut each half into 3 horizontal slices. I find it tastes better if you soak the slices in a brine solution of 2 tsp salt mixed in 2 cups of water, ideally for 8 hours in the fridge.
There was a bit of a learning curve for me in making the coleslaw from a head of cabbage. (I had to call my Dad, who's a bit of a coleslaw expert.) I used a mandoline, but you could do it with a knife if you're very good at making thin slices.
It all starts with an average head of purple cabbage on a cutting board.
Holding the cabbage with the root facing up, carefully make a vertical slice from top to bottom, just to one side of the root. (I should have used the cut glove for making these slices—see below.)
Do the same with the other side.
Slice along the root for the two remaining smaller wedges. Discard the root.
At this point you have two large pieces of cabbage and two small.
Slice the large pieces in half lengthwise so you have six pieces.
Now it's time for the mandoline. As you can see, I use a cut glove, available in most kitchen supply stores. I consider it essential safety equipment for this task. Put each of the six chunks of cabbage through the mandoline one at a time, making very thin slices. You'll have end chunks left over because even with the safety glove, you don't want to get your fingers too close to the mandoline blade. Save the end chunks—they're excellent in a stirfry or Chinese noodle dish.
After you finish a chunk, make a couple of crosswise chops on the small pile of cabbage to make the slices a little more bite-sized.
Place the sliced cabbage in a large mixing bowl after completing each chunk.
Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid. Put on the lid and shake vigorously. Pour a small amount of dressing on the coleslaw, then mix it in with tongs.
Continue this way until all of the dressing is gone. Ideally at this point, you'll want to put the coleslaw in the fridge for anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight. This will soften up the cabbage and make it more tangy. Toss it again with the tongs before using it in the sliders.
The pan-fried tofu comes together very easily.
Set a frying pan on medium heat with a healthy coating of canola or other vegetable oil.
The flavour of this tofu is greatly helped by kala namak (literally, black salt). It should be available in many Indian grocery stores, but if you can't find it, a smaller amount of table salt can be used instead. What kala namak contributes is an eggy flavour, and for this reason, many vegans love using it in all kinds of tofu dishes. I find the kala namak tends to clump up in the cupboard, so I start by turning it back into powder using a small mortar and pestle.
Mix the nutritional yeast, corn starch, kala namak and garlic powder in a small bowl.
Take the tofu slices out of the brine solution and press them between paper towels, three at a time, to dry them out.
Then, press the tofu into the spice mixture until well coated and transfer directly to the frying pan.
Fry the tofu about 4 minutes per side, then remove to a plate covered in paper towels.
At this point, there's nothing left to do but assemble the sandwiches. I usually make them just before eating them so that the coleslaw doesn't have time to make the bun soggy. In the photo, I sliced the tofu to make it easier to distribute on the bun, but I don't really think it's necessary—you can just put a delicious whole slab of tofu on the bed of coleslaw and it will make a really enjoyable slider.
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Posted: Sunday, December 11, 2016