Southern Fried Vegan

southernmeal.jpgMany years ago, I discovered a recipe for a most unconventional Southern Fried Tofu in a book called “Vegan Vittles” by Joanne Stepaniak. By coating tofu in a complex blend of herbs and a healthy portion of nutritional yeast and sauteeing it in a pan in a small amount of olive oil, you create a rich, crusted golden tofu that evokes the best (and most decadent) flavors of Southern cooking. I have yet to meet a Vegan or Omnivore that doesn’t enjoy this high protein treat. The flavorful crust brings out the best qualities of the creamy tofu inside, and it goes beautifully with rice or mashed potatoes, with a side of some green vegetable for balance and added nutrition. nutyeasttofu.jpg Actually, when we lived in Japan, we stowed a big jar of nutritional yeast in our suitcases, just so we could make this to stave off homesickness. Anytime we wearied of Japanese cuisine, we would boil some potatoes, mash them up, and make a double batch of Southern Fried Tofu- and then enjoy the flavors of home. We were quite relieved when we found that we could order nutritional yeast from Japan’s best mail order natural foods company, Tengu Foods – because the one thing we couldn’t do without was our Southern Fried Tofu! Here in the states, you can find nutritional yeast flakes at any health food store, or online at Amazon. Kal, Bob’s Red Mill, and Red Star all offer gluten free nutritional yeast flakes. (Of course read label to make sure!) It’s chock full of vitamins, especially B vitamins, and is delicious sprinkled on popcorn that has been lightly spritzed with oil/margarine and GF tamari. If you haven’t tried it yet, give it a try. DH, who is admittedly a hard sell for vegan recipes, says this recipe is his absolute favorite thing I make- a 10/10! Try it for yourself and see how you like it!

Southern Fried Tofu
Vegan  Tofu  
1 lb fat-reduced firm tofu, sliced horizontally in 3 slabs, and
pressed for 45 minutes.

Seasoning Mix:
1 1/2 cups nutritional yeast flakes (the fluffy yellow kind)
2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Garlic granules
1 tsp. Onion granules
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp. Dried tarragon
1/2 tsp Dried Dill Weed
1/2 tsp. Dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp. Dried Oregano leaves
1/2 tsp. Curry Powder
1/4 tsp. Dry mustard
1/4 tsp. Ground rosemary
1/4 tsp. chipotle pepper

Dipping Liquid Mix:
2/3 cup low-fat non dairy milk (dairy works too)
2 tsp. Fresh lemon juice (or vinegar)

Flour Coating:
2/3 cup brown rice flour (sorghum or white rice work too), as needed

1 tbsp. Canola or olive oil (or more if needed)

1) Mix all seasoning ingredients (nutritional yeast-ground rosemary)
together in a bowl.

2) Combine milk and lemon juice and stir together

3) Place flour in a mixing bowl.

4) Cut each slab of tofu into 4 triangles, resulting in 12
altogether. Dredge tofu first (one piece at a time) in flour, soured
milk, and seasoning mix. I find that this recipe makes enough mix for
2 recipes at least, so you may wish to put only half of the mix in a
shallow bowl for this step, so you can use the rest later. Follow
these steps for all the pieces.

5) Coat a big skilled with a layer of canola or olive oil, and heat
it. Add the tofu pieces in a layer, browning and then turning over
once. I also turn them on their side to brown the sides as well. You
may have to do several batches, adding oil as needed.

6) Place fried tofu on plate w/ paper towel or on rack. Left over
tofu may be heated in oven for a crispy exterior. YUM!

We usually serve them over mashed potatoes or rice, with a side
of sauteed green veggies (green beans or spinach). I loved these so
much we took nutritional yeast with us when we lived in Japan, and
made it a “comfort food meal” when we were feeling homesick.

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30 Responses to “Southern Fried Vegan”

  1. Sea – I will try this – I’ve been really trying to find ways to incorporate more tofu into our diet – this looks like a winner. What are onion and garlic granules? I’ve never heard of them.


  2. Hi Ellen- I hope you like it! It’s one of our favorites. Sorry about the funny terminology- I just meant onion and garlic powder. :)


  3. Ooh, looks tasty. Especially with a brown mushroom gravy, I bet!

  4. Hi Sea:

    This was a big hit with all of us when I made it last night. I actually had all the ingredients too, for a change. My only problem is that I am pretty inept at pressing tofu. The bottom always seems to crumble on me and so I was sauteeing up tofu curds at the end instead of beautiful, photogenic tofu triangles. The taste was superb. We paired it up with some homemade sushi and extra rice and grated daikon and it was a hit. Thanks for a great recipe!


  5. Rachel-
    I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe! It is one of our favorites as well. To press tofu, I usually just gently slice it in half (horizontally) or in thirds, and then wrap it in a towel and leave it for half an hour or 45 minutes. Sometimes I put something on top of it like another bread board. But I don’t actively press on it- the water just naturally leaches out. Hope this helps. :) Oh yes- and it’s important to use really firm tofu- the soft stuff will crumble on you.


  6. [...] Here’s the link to my previous post about Southern Fried Tofu [...]

  7. [...] I made French Socca, a French Chickpea Crepe Flatbread the other night for dinner, and topped it with a caramelized onion, artichoke heart, tomato, and calamata olive mixture. It was delicious, but I ended up with half of a can of artichoke hearts left over. I wasn’t sure what to do with them until I caught sight of the thriving basil plant on my patio. How about an artichoke heart, basil pesto using something other than pine nuts… something like… pecans? And so a recipe was born. I wanted something light and summery, with less calories than the typical pesto, so cutting out the cheese and limiting the oil made sense. I used two tablespoons of sweet, fruity, locally produced olive oil and somehow that was just enough. Even DH, who isn’t ordinarily a huge fan of pesto, enjoyed this light, summery dish. I paired it with some chilled Celestial Seasonings Tea, A variation onSouthern Fried Tofu, and leftover chilled Roasted Chili Garlic Broccoli. To me, nothing says summer like the sweet, piquant flavor of basil pesto. It would be perfect paired with a classic fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil leaf salad. If you thought pesto was off limits due to dairy intolerance or calorie concerns, think again! Pesto can be as light and allergen friendly as you like. [...]

  8. [...] I made a white roux with lots of garlic powder, and added some nutritional yeast for added flavor. I also made a dairy version for DH, who is skeptical about spinach in general and not the biggest fan of a pie centering on spinach. I followed the same basic recipe for his, but used dairy milk and 4 oz. cheddar and 2 oz feta cheese, just for variety’s sake. To my surprise, I found that I rather preferred the dairy free version, although here’s a big tip- IF you only have vanilla flavored unsweetened rice milk in your house and want to avoid using soy milk to make sure the recipe really works- go to the store and buy unsweetened PLAIN rice milk, because otherwise, no matter how much garlic powder you add to the recipe, you will still taste the ever so mild, ever so insidious flavor of vanilla. Another thing- when the pie first comes out of the oven, it won’t be firm. I don’t mind, myself, and am greedy enough to eat it right then. However, if you want it to be firmer in texture, consider adding xanthan gum or some other thickener- or even more flour. It will become firm after cooling, and especially after refrigeration. It tastes good cold OR hot, making it a good bento box (lunch box) candidate, especially if you have access to a refrigerator. It was VERY yummy with a sliced heirloom tomato (hippie zebra, if you were wondering…) sprinkled delicately with black salt. YUM! So, next time you’re wishing for something cheesy, why not make a cheezy spinach pie with nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast doesn’t taste JUST like cheese, but it does add a salty, cheesy note to recipes that I personally find very, very tasty. Note: If you are new to nutritional yeast, ease into it by trying it on popcorn or in my famous Southern Tofu Recipa or Baked Nutritional Yeast Tofu Recipe, both brought to you by Joanne Stepaniak. [...]

  9. [...] Some time ago I bought the Vegan Lunchbox cookbook by the author of the Vegan Lunch Box Blog. Apparently there is exciting news- her book has been picked up by a major publisher and will be redesigned and released in March 2008, so it should be available all over the country in bookstores soon. I’ve enjoyed her book as is, with its creative, healthy recipes and fun menu ideas, but I’m sure the new version will be great as well, and hopefully reach a wider audience. The other day I was trying to find something new to do with tofu, and I found myself flipping through Jennifer McCann’s book- until I was inspired by a recipe for Tofu Fish Sticks. Basically, you take tofu, slice it, cut it out in fish shapes with cookie cutters (or into boring ol’ sticks), dip in soymilk mixed with lemon and then coat it in a combination of cornmeal, nuts (i used almond and sesame), aonori (blue nori kelp sprinkles), and seasoning. You bake just like regular ol’ boring fish sticks in the oven, and enjoy! They got a thumbs up from DH, and I enjoyed them as well. They’re not quite as addicting as the nutritional yeast southern fried tofu or even baked nutritional yeast tofu, but they are tasty, fun, and something different that would probably appeal to kids. I served mine with leftover GF corn pasta (DH is really into Mrs. Leepers corn pasta) mixed with fresh diced tomatoes, and roasted brussel sprouts, and roasted sweet potatoes. The right tartar sauce would be perfect with these darling fishie sticks- we had ours with a dill mustard sauce ’cause we didn’t have any tarter. So, whether you hunt down Jennifer’s book or just start improvising your own fishie stick recipe following her method- hopefully now you will be inspired to take fish sticks to the next gluten-free, vegan level- ’cause they’re yummy that way! I would give them a 7 or 8 out of 10, and would definitely make them again. [...]

  10. I made this last night and it was SPECTACULAR!!!! I found it in Vegan Vittles and then remembered that I’d seen it on your blog and had intended on making it. It is definitely a keeper!

  11. Hi Ellen! Yup, it’s one of our favorite recipes, hands down. :D I’m glad you liked it! The tofu tom-tom (nutritional yeast baked tofu) is good too, from the same book. (Although Southern fried is the BEST! mmm!)

  12. [...] I’m torn between experiences of the past and present at the moment. I definitely want to share all of my past experiences with you, but now that I’m back home I have a lot of tasty plans for new dishes. So, I think I’ll alternate posts about our trip with posts about my latest culinary creations. Our first real meal home was basmati rice with southern fried tofu and roasted chili garlic broccoli. But after that, I started playing around with some new recipes. To use up leftover basmati rice, I came up with Spanish Rice Quesadillas with Refried Bean Recipe for a tasty and healthy breakfast. DH made a special request for dinner, asking for a “main dish salad with asian flavors.” I adapted a sauce recipe from an unpretentious cookbook called “All You Can Eat Chinese and Thai Cooking” and came up with a mixture of lettuce, carrots, jicama, apple, and rice noodles for the base of the salad- enough carbs and vegetables to make us both happy. DH proclaimed it to be exactly what he wanted, and oddly enough, it turned out to be just what I wanted, too. In fact, it was so good I wanted to share it with you all right away. My next post will probably be the conclusion of my series on our Indian culinary experience, but for now, here’s a little taste of the activity in my kitchen lately. I plan on making a batch of DFIL’s Gluten-Free Norwegian Christmas Bread today, and still intend to share Adeena’s yummy recipe for Gluten-free Teff Dinner Rolls, so you can expect to see these recipes soon, too… Enjoy! [...]

  13. [...] southern fried tofu with rice and garlic chili broccoli pizza made from Chebe mix with artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, chard, and cheese By the Bay’s wonderful Potato Knishes with my mods of chard and garlic corn tortilla quesadilla with beans and rice and a Thai Peanut Noodle Salad Recipe This coming week will feature [...]

  14. Fried tofu is really yummy. For novice nutritional yeast people- do NOT use Brewer’s yeast.
    Personally, I would cut the tofu in 8 slabs. You can just use a kitchen towel. Some people use paper towels but they are wasteful and don’t soak up as much water.

  15. Hi Pamela,
    Thanks for coming by. Fried tofu is yummy, isn’t it? I always use a kitchen towel for draining the tofu, and actually, I just end up putting the tofu straight out of the fry pan onto a plate- so no paper towels are involved. I wrote this recipe ages ago and I guess my method has evolved a bit. ;) As far as shape, it’s a matter of preference. The smaller the piece, the more crispy surface you have in contrast with the creamy tofu- so that’s partly why I do the smaller triangles. Now it’s tradition. ;)


  16. [...] Vegan Southern Fried Tofu Mashed Cauliflower (like mashed potatoes) with Slow Cooked Southern Greens in Cashew Macadamia [...]

  17. [...] dish. And wouldn’t it be nice to have biscuits regularly with my other southern dishes, like southern fried tofu or slow cooked greens? (Yes! Absolutely!) So I decided to turn things around a bit and instead of [...]

  18. [...] Deep South:  Book of Yum’s Southern fried tofu, Granny’s green beans (overcooked pole beans with onion and bacon) and Southern style risotto [...]

  19. [...] Monday: Holiday Favorites Pumpkin-Apple-Fresh Basil bread-free Stuffing with vegan gravy and Southern Fried Tofu [...]

  20. [...] Mock Mayonnaise potato salad and Southern Fried Tofu [...]

  21. Is regular flower only omitted for Gluten-Free purposes?
    I’m trying to make this recipe for my boyfriend tonight and I know he has regular flour at his house. Can I use it?

  22. Hi Maria,
    This is a gluten-free blog so we never use gluten flour in our recipes. However, you can use any flour that you prefer.


  23. [...] Valentine’s Day Favorites! Southern Fried Tofu (Big time comfort food in our house) Salt-crusted baked Potatoes (Ditto!) Butter Braised [...]

  24. [...] I’ve had a recipe idea rolling around in my head. I have been longing for some of my tasty Southern Fried Tofu Recipe but since I’m avoiding soy for Baby Yum, it is off the menu. So I thought, what if I could [...]

  25. This recipe is amazing! The only thing I did differently was add a little more oil to fry (unhealthy, I know). This is honestly the best tofu I’ve ever prepared. Look forward to trying more of your recipes.


  26. [...] and onions as vegetable sides. For those who are on speaking terms with tofu, I serve my Southern Fried Tofu, usually with mashed potatoes (or cauliflower), french bread, or rice, with some savory vegan [...]

  27. One Happy Vegan Says:

    This is the best damn tofu I have ever had and I eat tofu all the time! This recipe rocks, thank you for posting it!

  28. [...] Nutritional yeast gravy Yum nutritional yeast sauce Nutritional Yeast Coated Baked Tofu Strips Pan Fried Southern Fried Nutritional Yeast Tofu Mashed Cauliflower with Nutritional Yeast Cheesiness Dairy-Free Cheesy Nutritional Yeast Spinach [...]

  29. Wow, I had forgotten about this recipe and needed something to do with tofu for dinner tonight. Did a search here and voila, had a hit on my hands. We all gobbled it up, well not the 4 year old but he didn’t eat anything. Just wanted to say Thank You! Delicious I won’t forget about it again.

  30. I cut my tofu in 3rds..and then press. I wrap paper towels or a tea towel under and over the tofu, put on a baking sheet and then some dishes from the cupboard to weigh it down. I usually cut my tofu in to fingers.. about the size of your pinky but twice the girth! Works great.. I actually made a HUGE container of the N.Y. mix/seasoning, and whenever I have a hankering, it’s ready to go! Great recipe. (Sometimes I make crumbles, get ‘em really crispy, then make a ‘bowl’ with sauteed green beans, a wee bit of potato, crumbles on top and gravy all over..YUM)

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