November 4, 2013

Vegetarian Challenge - Day 7 (Sesame-Crusted Tofu)

So maybe tofu isn't my thing. I decided a while ago I would definitely try it at the end of this experiment; I wasn't sure if I would like it, but I believe at least a taste is a crucial part of understanding alternatives to current dietary habits. Well, I can now say that after hours of research, a week of meatless eating, and a bite of tofu, I fully comprehend both the environmental and nutritional impact of eating vegetarian.

Though I didn't particularly like the tofu, my dad ate it all. Personally, I loved the breading. It was the jiggly, spongy texture of the tofu itself that made the dish less than appealing. However, people who like tofu (namely my dad) seemed to love it. It takes about 90 minutes to make, but most of that is spent pressing the tofu. All you have to do is slice a brick of extra-firm tofu, sandwich it between a few layers of paper towels, and leave something heavy on top (I used a glass baking dish) to squeeze out the water. Pressing the tofu improves the texture and prevents it from falling apart while cooking. Then, just dip the slices in an egg wash and the breading and cook until crispy. I use a combination of panko crumbs and sesame seeds to make an exceptionally crunchy crust. In addition, the panko gets rich and buttery with only a tiny bit of oil; you get deep-fried texture and taste without all the calories.

Nevertheless, I'm honestly not so sure I'll be eating too much of this tofu. There is no denying soy's environmental superiority (animal protein requires 12 times more land, 13 times more fossil fuel, and 15 times more water), but this week has taught me that there are many ways to help the environment through altering my diet, and not all of them include tofu. Just eliminating meat from one more meal a week can have a huge impact, and I learned that I am capable of doing more than just one fewer meal. While I may not go another whole week at a time, I can cut down my meat consumption significantly to reduce pollution, emissions, resource consumption, and animal cruelty. I hope you make the decision to cut down on the amount of meat you eat, even if just by a meal, so that you can make an impact, too.

1 14oz Block Extra Firm Tofu
2 T Flour
1 Egg
1 T Soy Sauce
1 T Sriracha
1/3 Cup Panko Crumbs
2 T Sesame Seeds

Cut the tofu into 1/2" thick squares. Place in a single layer on top of a few sheets of paper towels; top with more paper towels and place a heavy object (like a cutting board or pan) on top. Let sit for an hour.

Combine the egg, soy sauce, and sriracha. Combine the panko and sesame seeds. Toss the tofu in the flour, dip into the egg wash, and press into the panko mixture.

Heat some oil on a griddle or skillet. Cook the tofu until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes on each side. Serve with more sriracha.

Serves 3-4
Recipe Adapted from Love & Olive Oil

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