Serves 6 to 8.
Sweet chili chicken is one of our all-time favourite appetizers at Vancouver’s Cactus Club Cafe (we are regulars and Jillian used to work there). Of course we had to give it a facelift to make it plant-based, and bam, we nailed it! This is a dead-ringer for the real deal. It’s super crispy with a flavourful tofu interior and coated in a perfect amount of sweet and spicy sauce that you will be addicted to, guaranteed! Pressing the tofu and then soaking it in vegetable stock allows it to soak up more flavour when cooked, but you can skip this step if you forget or do not have time. Be warned, the glaze is very thick! (We are thrilled that Cactus Club now has a vegan tofu version on their menu.)
- 1 package (12 ounces/350 g) extra-firm tofu, drained
- 1 cup (250 mL) chicken- flavoured vegetarian stock or vegetable stock
- 1 cup (250 mL) unsweetened almond milk
- 3/4 cup (175 mL) cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) garlic powder, divided
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) sweet paprika, divided
- 1 cup (250 mL) panko crumbs
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 to 125 mL) avocado oil or grapeseed oil
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped fresh cilantro
- 3 green onions (white and light green parts only), sliced
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) vegan mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) sriracha
Sweet Chili Glaze
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) avocado oil or grapeseed oil
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) Thai sweet chili sauce
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) water
- Prepare the tofu. Press the tofu by placing it between 2 sheets of paper towel, then sandwich it between 2 plates. Place a heavy object such as a stack of books on top; let sit for 1 hour. Cut the tofu into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes and gently press with a kitchen towel or paper towel to remove any remaining liquid.
- Place the tofu in a small, shallow bowl or plastic container, then pour the stock over it to cover. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Make the Sriracha Mayonnaise. Stir together the vegan mayonnaise and the Sriracha in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Set out 3 shallow bowls. Place the almond milk in one bowl. In the second bowl, stir together the cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) salt, 1/2 teaspoon, (2 mL) garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) paprika. In the third bowl, stir together the panko crumbs, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) garlic powder, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) paprika. (2.5 cm) cubes and gently press with a kitchen towel or paper towel to remove any remaining liquid.
- Make the Sweet Chili Glaze. Heat the avocado oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the Thai chili sauce and rice wine vinegar.
- Stir together the cornstarch and water in a small glass until smooth. Add the cornstarch mixture o the sauce and cook on a low boil, stirring, until it is thickened and clear, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- To prepare the tofu, place half of the tofu cubes in the seasoned cornstarch and toss to coat. Remove them from the cornstarch and place them in the almond milk, turning to coat. Finish with the panko coating, lightly pressing it on all sides.
- Heat 1/4 cup (60 mL) avocado oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, cook the tofu until golden brown on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the tofu to a medium bowl. Repeat with the remaining tofu, adding more oil if need. Once all the tofu is cooked, pour a small amount of the Sweet Chili Glaze over the tofu cubes and gently toss to coat using a pair of tongs. Add as much Sweet Chili Glaze as you desire — you will likely not use it all.
- Arrange the tofu on a small platter, sprinkle with the sesame seeds, cilantro, and green onion, and serve immediately with the Sriracha Mayonaise on the side.
More from Fraiche Food, Full Hearts:
Cover courtesy of Penguin Canada
Excerpted from Fraiche Food, Full Hearts: A Collection of Recipes for Every Day and Casual Celebrations by Jillian Harris and Tori Wesszer. Copyright © 2019 by Jillian Harris and Tori Wesszer. Photography copyright © 2019 by Janis Nicolay. Published by Penguin Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.