Spicy Fried “Chicken” Sandwich (2021)

Crunchy, spicy, creamy, and tart—this “chicken” samite is total bliss. We replicated spicy fried chicken with protein-packed tofu and added cornmeal to the batter for extra crunch. If you’re looking for a texture similar to chicken, don’t skip the freezing step. When tofu freezes, the texture transforms from firm and crumbly to chewy and meat-like. Whether you freeze your tofu or not, make sure to drain the tofu well between paper towels before breading it; too much water prevents the batter from turning crispy and golden. Arrange the tofu blocks in a single layer on a freezer-safe plate or in a large plastic container and cover with plastic or a lid. Freeze until solid, at least 5 hours and up to a month in advance. Remove tofu from freezer and let defrost completely, about 4 hours on the counter or overnight in refrigerator. Drain off any excess water that may have accumulated. Arrange defrosted tofu in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with several sheets of paper towel. Place a few more layers of paper towels and another rimmed baking sheet on top of tofu. Weight baking sheet with a few cookbooks or cans of beans. Let drain, changing paper towels when saturated with water, at least 1 hour or up to overnight in refrigerator.

Spicy Fried “Chicken” Sandwich (2021)

When tofu is finished draining, make sandwich. In a shallow bowl, whisk together Dijon mustard, pickle brine, hot sauce, and vinegar. In another shallow bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, cornstarch, chili powder, cayenne pepper, onion powder, baking powder, garlic powder, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cut each piece of tofu crosswise into 2 planks; you should have 4 planks total. Working with one piece of tofu at a time, coat tofu in dry mixture then dip it in wet mixture. Return to dry mixture, then wet and one more time in the dry mixture. Place on a clean plate. Repeat with remaining tofu. Pour oil into a large cast-iron skillet until it comes ½ inch up side of skillet. Place over medium-high heat. When oil is hot and just starts to shimmer, reduce heat to medium. Fry tofu, turning once, until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain.

Spicy Fried “Chicken” Sandwich (2021)

On a cutting board, smash garlic clove with back of a knife. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Continue mashing with the side of a knife until garlic turns into a paste. Scrape garlic paste into a small bowl and stir in lemon juice and mayonnaise. Season with more salt, if needed, and pepper. Spread garlic mayo on bottom halves of each bun. Top with lettuce,  fried tofu, and pickles. Sandwich with top bun and serve.

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