Gluten-free · Salads · Uncategorized

Vegan MoFo: Bulldog BBQ Tofu Salad

     I think as vegans, we can all relate to Lisa Simpson on one level or another.  Whether you’re at work, with friends or family, or at a wedding (ugh), you can bet that you will be in the dietary minority (unless you’re only around fellow vegans all the time, which, congrats).  I get strange looks all the time from people when I politely decline their food and start to drink green juice instead.  I’ve also gotten positive reactions from chefs willing to accommodate me to acquaintances asking insightful questions pertaining to the reasons why I went vegan, etc.  Navigating social landscapes is definitely something that can be challenging but also rewarding as someone who lives this unique lifestyle.

The most challenging dish to sell to people who aren’t keen on vegan (or just “healthy” food in general) is plain old salad​.  Hence this…

     Yep.  I feel her pain.  (#same)

The funny thing about salad is, though, it can be just as easily mind-blowing as it can be boring and unappetizing.  This rule applies to every food, though, in my humble opinion.  Omnivores throw fried meat, potatoes and tons of cheese on their salads and say it makes them “tasty”, so why can’t vegans do their equivalent of the same?
I love salads.  They’re great all year round.  I love that they can consist of cooked and raw vegetables alike.  I also like to mix pickled and fermented vegetables in mine to add flavor, texture and nutrition.  A great, quick and easy lunch is some salad greens, chopped seasonal vegetables and some make-ahead protein to throw on top.  When I’m feeling lazy, I’ll throw beans on top that are barely seasoned.  However, for VeganMofo, I decided to do something a little more involved and special…

 I made some oven-fried cornmeal crusted tofu.  Not only did I make delicious and crispy tofu, but I made a Japanese bulldog sauce to go on top of it.  What’s bulldog sauce, you ask?  Well, it’s basically a sweet and sticky BBQ sauce that’s usually served with tonkatsu (or fried pork cutlets).  This is a classic and homey Japanese meal that I enjoyed as a young kid.  I definitely recommend making a vegan version of the cutlets if you can (Here are a few ideas from some fellow bloggers: Vegan Ronin | Lazy Cat Kitchen).  They’re coated in panko breadcrumbs and are wonderfully addictive.
The sauce itself is interesting because it has fruit purees in it that lend their sweetness.  Along with the fruit, bulldog sauce has tomato paste in it as well as carrot.  Instead of trying to automatically recreate the sauce itself, I decided to create my own vegan version with household ingredients that most people have already or can find easily at the store.  I added a kick to mine by throwing some Frank’s Red Hot sauce in there!  You can definitely sub sriracha and that would be an excellent idea.  The resulting sauce is slightly spicy, tangy, thick with a depth of sweetness from molasses and mirin.
If you can’t find mirin, you can always sub maple syrup or your favorite liquid sweetener.  This sauce goes very well with the tofu and works as a dressing for the salad on its own.  You can also dress your veggies with your favorite dressing if you’d like.  I don’t care for a lot of dressing so I left mine alone with the exception of a splash of apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper!
The only thing I will tell you is this: if you’re trying to impress someone with tofu, salad and your sauce making skills, use this recipe!  There’s no way anyone can deny that eating a vegan salad is a good time if you serve them this.  (If they don’t like it, then more for you!)  Go out there and make some friends!  ​👯🥗

Bulldog BBQ Tofu Salad

Yield: About 5 Servings
Free from: Nuts, Gluten

Ingredients

  • 1 small head cabbage (I used Nappa)
  • 1 medium head of leaf lettuce (I used red lettuce)
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 large cucumber, seeds removed and cut into matchsticks
  • sesame seeds for garnish, opt.

Tofu

  • 1 block extra firm tofu, drained (I also pressed mine overnight to achieve a dry texture)
  • 1 cup cornmeal (I used the blue kind since I had it on hand)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 coconut oil, melted (optional)

Bulldog Sauce

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tsp ume vinegar (or sub apple cider)
  • 2 Tb Tamari/soy sauce
  • 1 Tb mirin/maple syrup
  • 1 Tb molasses
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tb hot sauce/sriracha

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Instructions
Preheat oven 400 F.

  1. Cut your block of tofu into chunks.  I left mine rustic looking, but feel free to cut into cubes if this makes you anxious.  😛
  2. Prepare the cornmeal crust by whisking the cornmeal, salt, pepper and garlic powder together in a bowl until totally incorporated.
  3. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper for easy clean up.
  4. Toss your tofu pieces in the cornmeal until they are thoroughly coated and then place them all on the cookie sheet with some room between them.
  5. Once your tofu is all coated, drizzle the melted coconut oil over them, if using.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 13 minutes on each side (flipping them helps to brown them more completely).  Remove them when they are golden and crispy to cool.
  7. While the tofu is sizzling in the oven, chop your veggies!
  8. I washed my cabbage and lettuce, drained them and then tore them into bite-sized pieces.  I don’t like to cut delicate greens so this worked just fine.
  9. In a large mixing bowl, combine the greens, carrot and cucumber matchsticks and sesame seeds, if using.
  10. Now, mix up that sauce!  The Bulldog sauce comes together in a flash if you have a whisk handy.  Simply throw all the ingredients into a medium sized mixing bowl and whisk until smooth.  Taste for seasoning.  Mine definitely didn’t need any, but feel free to add salt and pepper or more spices to your liking.  It should be slightly hot, sweet and tangy!  😋
  11. For each portion, fill a bowl with the salad mixture, top with the tofu and drizzle on the bulldog sauce.  Like I said, I used my sauce as a dressing so add whatever other dressing you would like.  You can also coat the tofu in the sauce, but I tried that and found it to be too much for my liking.  I’m more of a sauce dipper than smotherer.   😉

4 thoughts on “Vegan MoFo: Bulldog BBQ Tofu Salad

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