I’ve been on a bit of a coconut kick lately. I purchased a jar of coconut oil with the intent of using it on my sensitive skin, but its subtly sweet coconutty goodness quickly found its way into my cooking.
Quick tangent, back to the skincare thing… this stuff is awesome! I use mostly natural products nowadays and my skin is much happier. Coconut oil is great rubbed into skin in lieu of lotion (I sometimes combine them) and a drop or two is also fantastic in hair (makes my natural waves look extra beachy).
Ok, back to tofu. I use both coconut oil and unsweetened flake coconut in this recipe and it is oh-so-yummy, not to mention healthy! Although coconut oil contains saturated fats, these are actually the healthy kind that can raise your HDL cholesterol. Additionally, coconut oil provides antioxidants, boosts your immune system, helps you absorb minerals, and can control blood sugar (Source). Even my meat-loving husband loves this recipe, you know, the one who is obsessed with bacon and chorizo? He says it reminds him of a combination of coconut shrimp and fried mozzarella. Score!
I served it up with a simple dipping sauce of low-fat mayo mixed with some curry powder, but you could use whatever you like. Along with some simple sauteed pea pods and cucumbers, this was a hit.
Panko Coconut Crusted Tofu
1 block of extra firm tofu
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup un-sweetened flaked coconut (I used the large flake kind and chopped it up a bit)
2 tbsp. milk
2 tbsp. coconut oil
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. kosher or sea salt (plus more for sprinkling)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1.) Cut your tofu in half thickness-wise (so you are creating two “planks” of tofu, half the thickness of the original block). Lay a few paper towels on a plate, then place the two pieces of tofu on top. Layer on a few more paper towels then place another plate on top, then something heavy like a pot or a tea kettle. This is reducing the amount of water, creating a firmer tofu. Let sit for about 15 minutes.
2.) On a plate, combine the panko, coconut, and seasonings. In a bowl, combine the egg and milk.
3.) Set the oven to 250*F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside. Set a skillet to medium heat and add the coconut and canola oils.
4.) When the tofu is done draining cut each plank into four strips (for a total of eight strips). Coat each strip in the egg / milk mixture, then press them into the panko/coconut mixture. I press it on pretty well (I like it crunchy!).
5.) When each strip is coated, add four pieces at a time to the pan. Pan fry each side, for just a minute or two per side. Watch them closely, then can burn. When cooked on all sides, transfer to the paper towel-lined baking sheet and place in the oven to stay warm. Repeat this with the other four pieces and allow to drain on the paper towels.
6.) Sprinkle the finished pieces with a little salt and serve with the dipping sauce of your choice (I used curry mayo).