I have shared with you “modified” versions of my grandma’s recipes before, but this one will be a stretch.
When I was little, I LOVED staying at my grandma’s house. She had all kinds of amazing things going on for us kids. She knew how to make a kiddo happy. The most delicious chocolate cakes, the best games, fun outings. I was her favourite (don’t worry, everyone knew that. I’m not outing a secret here); and she used to make my favourite meal every time I visited her: Her “crispy chicken”, and potato crisps on the side. Hey, I was not born vegan!
I decided to take her recipe as a base, but modify it to make it vegan, gluten-free, and much healthier. I think she’d have approved.
A small but mighty ingredient: Black pepper
In this recipe, I’m using only a quarter teaspoon of black pepper because my sweetheart doesn’t like it so much. It is a shame because pepper has amazing benefits, especially during this time of a novel pandemic, devastating fires in California, and toxic environment in general. This small but mighty spice is a warming metabolism and digestion booster. It is one of the ingredients in Trikatu, the supplement traditionally used in Ayurveda to increase metabolism. Along with cumin and coriander, it increases the bioavailability of zinc, which everyone seems to be talking about, in relation to Covid. It provides relief from sinusitis and nasal congestion; and, especially important for us living close to the fires, and breathing in smoke, black peppercorns (black pepper and pipali, or long pepper, which is even more miraculous, if you ask me- too bad it’s not as popular in the West) are long-term lung tissue builders and powerful detoxifiers, which is why they are the preeminent herbs for asthma.
Please have a look at the notes at the end of the article for substitutes.
- 1 block organic extra-firm tofu (If you’re in the US, we REALLY love Hodo brand, though it is pricey, so we save it for special occasions!).
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil.
- 1 tablespoon gluten-free tamari or soy sauce.
- 1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch.
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper (or to taste).
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and prep an oven-safe baking tray- I love my Pyrex– by oil-spraying it.
- To prepare the tofu: Drain the tofu and gently squeeze out some of the water, either use your palms or use a cutting board. If you make tofu quite often, I recommend investing in a tofu press. This helps drain the tofu so you get a crispy result every time. Anywho, after draining, let the tofu rest for around 10-15 minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare the sauce. In a bowl, mix the cornstarch, oil, tamari and black pepper. Blend well so that there is no starch piece left visible.
- You’ll love this part: Pour this mixture, along with the drained and cubed tofu pieces, in a zip lock bag. Zip it and give it a good shake until the tofu pieces are coated with the mixture.
- Pour the coated tofu pieces over onto your prepared baking tray. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tofu is golden on the edges. You might want to give it a toss after the first 15 minutes and then continue baking.
- If the tray is broiler-safe, I recommend broiling for a few minutes just to get even more crunch!
- Ta-daaa. Your tofu is ready. You can use it as is, as a side dish, in salads, in stir-fries, and so on.
- When I want a sweet and sticky sauce, instead of black pepper, this is what I do: I mix soy sauce and coconut sugar to taste (usually 1/4 cup soy sauce and 4 tbsp coconut sugar is good). I boil this mixture until it gets a syrup-like consistency. Let this cool down and add to the ziplock bag with other ingredients.
- If you like turmeric, and/or want a nice golden colour to your tofu, consider adding Your super Golden Mellow mix. This is a mixture of turmeric, ashwagandha, ginger, cinnamon, lucuma, and pepper (you mostly taste the turmeric and pepper). You’ll have the benefits of these ingredients, and it will give your tofu a nice golden colour).
Editor’s note: The information in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programme.