Seafood, particularly fish, is often the most challenging food to let go of when transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. For those who have embraced a plant-based diet but miss the taste and texture of fish, there is a wonderful alternative available: vegan fish fillets made with tofu, seaweed, and rice paper. These fillets not only resemble fish visually but also offer a crispy skin that perfectly emulates the satisfying texture of cooked fish.
Recreating the Texture and Flavor of Fish
To achieve a flaky, fish-like texture, we combine the tofu-slicing technique from Sam’s (itdoesnttastelikechicken) tofu fillets with the Jabara Cucumber cutting technique. This process involves slicing the tofu across and then diagonally in the same direction, resulting in extra flakiness.
The idea for the crispy skin comes from rice paper dumplings, which become delightfully crisp when pan-fried with a little oil. By using a starch slurry, the rice paper adheres to the nori and tofu, creating a satisfying and flavorful skin.
While these vegan fish fillets do not possess the texture of real fish, they offer the flaky texture, crispy skin, and seafood flavor that make them an excellent alternative. They are particularly suited for those who appreciate the taste of extra firm tofu or firm tofu.
To create these delicious vegan fish fillets, you will need the following ingredients:
- Extra firm tofu: This variety works best to ensure the fillets stay intact. You can use firm tofu for a softer texture, but be gentle during slicing and cooking. Pressing the tofu helps it absorb more of the marinade’s flavor.
- Dashi broth: You can make homemade kombu dashi broth or mix one packet of kombu dashi granules with one cup of water.
- Ajinomoto: Provides a strong umami-fish flavor. Mushroom stock powder can serve as a substitute.
- Rice vinegar: Adds flavor and helps eliminate the tofu’s inherent taste.
- Sugar: Enhances the overall flavor.
- Nori: Used for the skin and imparting a fishy and seafood-like taste.
- Potato starch: Ensures the rice paper sticks and provides texture on the non-skin side. You can replace it with corn starch if necessary.
- Rice paper: Creates the crispy skin. If you don’t have rice paper, coating the tofu with potato starch can yield a flakey-fried texture, similar to tempura.
Preparing Vegan Tofu Fish Fillets
Prepare the tofu: Start by removing the tofu from its package and pressing it to remove excess moisture. Slice the tofu into desired shapes and pieces. For a fish-like shape, slice the block three-fourths lengthwise, then carve out a fillet shape using the tip of your knife. Save the remaining one-fourth for later use. If you prefer, you can slice the tofu into four rectangles. To achieve a flaky texture, slice the tofu diagonally one-third of the way through, making cuts spaced one-eighth to one-fourth inch apart. Flip the tofu and slice diagonally in the same direction.
Make the marinade: In a shallow container, combine the kombu dashi broth, msg, rice vinegar, and sugar. Add the tofu fillets and place a sheet of nori on top. Cover and marinate for at least two hours or overnight.
Create the crispy skin: Remove the tofu from the marinade and pat it dry. Cut a piece of nori that fits on top of the tofu fillets, along with a similarly sized piece of rice paper. Place the nori on top of the tofu. Mix potato starch with three to four tablespoons of water, briefly dip the rice paper in the mixture, and place it on top of the nori, pressing down to ensure it sticks.
Cook: Heat a pan with oil over medium-high heat. Place the tofu fillets, rice paper side down. Gently press down with a spatula a few times and cook for about one minute or until golden brown and crispy. Dust a little potato starch on the side facing up, then flip and cook for another one to two minutes or until brown and crispy. Pan-fry the other two sides, dusting more potato starch if desired. Remove the fillets from the pan.
Serve: To maintain the crispy skin, add any sauce to the plate or alongside the tofu fish. Place the tofu fish on top. Serve and savor the deliciousness!
What makes this vegan fish recipe truly special is its versatility and customizability. Once you’ve created the fillets, you can season and sauce them according to your preference. For a salmon-like version, add a touch of beetroot or carrot juice for color. Serve the fillets with soy butter, marinate them in a miso sauce and broil in the oven, or grill them for extra flavor. The possibilities are endless!
More Vegan Seafood Recipes
If you enjoy vegan seafood alternatives, here are some more recipes you might want to try:
- Vegan Unagi Donburi
- Vegan Teriyaki Salmon
- Tomato Tuna Donburi Rice Bowl
- Vegan Kaki Fry (Fried ‘Oysters’)
If you’re excited to try this Vegan Tofu Fish recipe, share your thoughts by leaving a comment and rating below. You can also tag me on Instagram @Okonomikitchen to showcase your tasty recreations. Remember to subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Instagram, Youtube, and Pinterest for more mouthwatering delights!
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