Here’s the thing about spring in the southeast- it is NOT gradual. No clear easy ramp up from cold to warm, from a scattering of snow in the oak leaves to the tender baby leaves and azalea blossoms. Instead, the cold and warm days battle it out until spring, as though by chance, wins out.
We’re in the middle of one of these confrontations right now: warm and lovely last week, lows of 12 F the last few days, and a few inches of snow and ice last night. Since our state lacks an efficient method of snow removal AND the fact that southerners seem constitutionally incapable of driving on said snow and ice, I’m off school. Again. For the fourth time this (very mild) winter- although it’s a good excuse to get a recipe up on the blog. I know it’s been awhile.
According to anthropomorphized groundhogs, the extended forecast on weather.com, the Farmer’s Almanac, AND the behavior of our chickens, it looks like this might be the last big hurrah for this winter, which is totally thrilling. Except, of course, that we have one more cold weather task to finish before the weather turns for good: Tempeh the pig will be going to freezer camp in less than two weeks.
Meanwhile, we’ve been lucky to have a handful of guests over the last few wintry weeks, with the requisite delicious Farmlet food: lots of chicken and dumplings, braised rabbit, and the last few chunks of pork belly from Acorn, as we work to empty the freezer and prepare to restock. This recipe, however, is none of that. And yes, it might seem a little insane to include a recipe for tofu here. After all, I’m an unrepentant carnivore- I generally don’t eat things that include beans, AND I’m an active tofu-phobe (please see the names of our current pigs to help flesh this out. Heh). Most things I share here, we have grown on our own little chunk of land- something that is definitively untrue for tofu (except of course for the pig that shares that name).
But after 20 years of cooking for lesbians in the woods each summer, I make a handful of crowd favorites that come up again and again. And since that community of women gets to asking for this PARTICULAR recipe at least twice a year, it seems a great time to get it down in writing for posterity. Truthfully, as tofu goes, this IS pretty insanely delicious- both hot and cold. They’re sort of a cross between tater tots and tofu, savory and crispy and addictive. As with most of our summer recipes, the original author of this one is unknown (and frankly, it’s not rocket science- many fried tofu recipes are similar). But in honor of the womyn, the ferns, and long summer mornings spent over a hot wok, I give you (my version of) Lesbian Tofu Nuggets:
Tofu Nuggets (feeds 4-8, depending on what else you’re having)
A sharp knife
A container to marinate tofu in
A cutting board
A deep skillet
A small colander
2 blocks very firm tofu
1/2 c tamari sauce or soy sauce
1/4 c water
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 c cornmeal, either yellow or white
1 c nutritional yeast (not brewer’s yeast or baking yeast- find this at your local health food store)
1.5 t ground black pepper
1/4 t cayenne pepper (optional)
1 t salt
Vegetable oil as needed
The night before:
Drain and cut both blocks of tofu in to 1/2 inch dice. Toss with tamari, water, and garlic. Place in covered container in the fridge overnight- give the container a good shake when you go into the fridge, to distribute the marinade.
The day you want to eat them:
Mix cornmeal, nutritional yeast and seasonings in a large bowl.
Meanwhile, begin heating a half inch of oil in a large deep skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Drain tofu chunks, and toss a handful or two at a time in the yeast breading. Test your oil for temperature- either heat until it begins to shimmer just a bit, or toss a little chunk of bread in there- once it starts to brown, you’re good to go. Once the oil is hot, carefully add 1/4 of the tofu to the hot oil.
Stir occasionally and gently until evenly browned all over. Drain nuggets on paper towels and eat them. Many folks dip them in ketchup (I personally think this is SUPER odd), but they’re also good with sriracha sauce or other hot sauce.
They keep and reheat surprisingly well, but you won’t have any left over. Trust me.
Until next time,