Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fried Fishy Sandwiches

As is pretty obvious from some of my previous entries, I really love Toni Fiore's video podcast, "Delicious TV VegEZ."  This past month, the podcast put out a recipe called "Tofu Phish Fillet Sandwiches," and I was inspired!  Here is a link to Ms. Fiore's original video recipe.  Mine is very similar, and the inspiration for it came entirely from the VegEZ original, but let's be honest:  I just didn't want to make mine quite that healthy.  Ha ha!

Lookit, I'm from Arkansas, and I'm from rural, backwoods Arkansas.  I grew up in a place where my brother and I would walk to our own pond--barefooted most of the time--and throw a simple line from a cane pole with a cork bobber and a worm on it into the water.   My mother would make hush puppies and fried bits of catfish and serve it with cole slaw and thinking about it makes me drool...mmm!  So, I loved eating fried fish practically from the time I left the womb.  I also loved fried fish sandwiches.  For years, I would go through the drive-thru of some fast food joint or other and get a fried fish sandwich slathered in cheese and mayo.  I won't lie.  I savored every single horribly unhealthy bite.  When I saw this recipe, a little catfish-shaped lightbulb went off over my head.  I knew I could make this a fried fishy concoction, so I scrambled down to the kitchen and made my little modifications.  Here is what we did in Kitchen de la Nix...and it was GOOD, Y'all.  Seriously, wondrously good.  At the end, I'll tell you how I'll make this differently next time, and remember that if you don't want this recipe fried, you can save calories and fat by making it Toni Fiore's way.  Just watch her video.


Fried Fishy Sandwiches
1 block Frozen Firm Tofu, thawed
Dry Egg Replacer (two eggs' worth)
4 Sandwich Rolls (we used a lovely vegan Ciabatta roll we found at Tesco)
4T Malt Vinegar (Toni used cider vinegar, but I prefer malt vinegar with fish)
1T Old Bay Seasoning
3/4C Panko Bread Crumbs
1/4C Regular Plain Bread Crumbs
2T Plain Flour
2 1/2tsp Nori, ground
1tsp Onion Powder
1/2tsp Garlic Powder
1/2tsp Sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Before you really start assembling things here, you might need to make a few preparations.  First, the nori.  Nori is a seaweed steamed and rolled out into sheets and toasted.  It is typically sold in sheets, and I had never seen any for sale already powdered or minced up into small pieces.  I tried cutting it into tiny pieces, and that would work if you wanted to spend an hour dealing with it, but I didn't.  So...I got out my coffee bean grinder.  I tore the sheet of nori into pieces that would fit in the grinder.  It took less than a minute to grind the entire sheet, and it did the trick beautifully.  If you can find nori already ground up...awesome.  If not, try this or a food processor.


Now for the tofu.  You cannot make this recipe properly without first freezing your block of tofu.  When tofu is frozen, the texture of it changes.  When you thaw a block of frozen tofu, you will find that the texture of it is very spongy and far more structurally sound.  The mouth feel of previously-frozen tofu is different, as well..."meaty" is an apt adjective for it.  For this recipe, you really need to freeze the tofu.  Just put the entire package, unopened, into the freezer as soon as you get home from the store with it.  Take it out and thaw it completely.  When you open the package, squeeze the block thoroughly to remove the water.  You now have a block of tofu that will soak up any sauce or marinade like a sponge - literally.  


Slice the block of tofu into eight uniform slices, blot with a paper towel on both sides, and set aside.  In a bowl, mix together the malt vinegar, sugar, and 1/2tsp of your ground nori.  Whisk these together and set aside.  Using a dry egg replacer like the one I have pictured above, get a 2nd small bowl and mix the equivalent for two eggs according to the package instructions.  Set this aside as well.  

In a medium bowl, mix the panko, bread crumbs, flour, garlic powder, onion powder, Old Bay, remaining nori, salt, and pepper with a fork until all ingredients are evenly distributed.  Taking each slice of tofu, dip them in the vinegar mix, coat with the egg replacer, and then dredge in your bread crumb mix.  Once fully coated, put the slices aside on a plate or tray to await frying.


Cover the bottom of a deep skillet (you don't need a lot of oil...just cover the bottom of the skillet), and heat the oil until a bit of the breading dropped in immediately bubbles.  Once your oil is heated, place each of the fishy planks into the oil and cook on one side until golden brown (about 3 minutes).  Flip each slice over and do the same thing on the other side.  Remove the planks from the oil and place them on some paper toweling to drain.

Voila!  Make sure to share a piece with any Children, Foster Bassets, or Husbands who wander through while you assemble the sammiches.  We made these with lettuce, tomato, and red onion on lovely ciabatta rolls.  They were awesome...and they really did taste like fried fish.  There was one thing we'd change...

The Next Time I Make This Recipe:
I will not dip the individual tofu slices in the vinegar mix.  I will simply press the entire block of tofu, once squeezed free of water, into the vinegar mix on each side.  We love the malt vinegar flavor, but we think the slices soaked up too much individually.  Though it was quite tasty this way, we felt the strength of the vinegar flavor took away from the spices and other flavors in the breading.  This is a matter of preference.  If you want a milder malt vinegar flavor, try dipping the entire block in the vinegar mix rather than soaking each slice.


  1. That sounds really good and I love that you foster animals :) your foster pup is adorable:)

  2. Oh, Carissa, he is absolutely gorgeous. Lovely dog. We hope he finds a forever family soon, but we're really happy to have him in the meantime.

    You really gotta try these sandwiches. Toni Fiore's original video helps a lot with the procedural part of it, too. They were DELICIOUS.

  3. I have everything except the bread crumbs. I do want these badly now. Thanks for the recipe!