Last November, Mr. Wright and I found ourselves in New Orleans for a business conference. I'd been dying to try some of the local vegan fare -- which, by the way, is becoming easier to find in the Big Easy -- and we had an evening to kill.
We hitched a pedicab to Seed, which served us not only amazing Southern vegan comfort food, but the best matcha tea ever brewed this side of Tokyo.
If you go to Seed, by all means, try the Southern Fried Po'Boy. It'll knock your socks off, f'true and f'sho!
Living in Washington state, and without a NOLA trip on the horizon, I was desperate to recreate the delicious sandwich, and all I had to work with was the description:
fried tofu, light chickpea flour breading, lettuce, tomato, vegan mayo, poboy bread
Hmmmm... Okay. I'm up for a challenge!
I used this recipe from The Vedge as inspiration (notably, I froze the tofu, omitted the salt, used mustard powder in place of wet mustard, tossed in some extra seasonings, and added olive oil to the batter, which helped mine "cling" a bit better), and knocked out this delicious knockoff:
NOLA Vegan Po'Boy Sandwiches (with Gluten-Free Option)
1 - 14 oz. block extra firm tofu (not silken)
1/2 c. chickpea (garbanzo) flour
1/4 c. nutritional yeast
1 t. mustard powder
1 T. Cajun seasoning
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1/4 t. ground sage
2 T. olive oil
1/2 c. + about 1 T. water
Canola oil for frying
A deep fryer or deep skillet to fry in, and a candy thermometer to check oil temperature.
First, drain your tofu, put it into a plastic zipper bag, and freeze overnight. Do not skip this step. Freezing the tofu helps it hold its shape, encourages it to really grab onto the breading, and creates a delicious, chewy texture.
Thaw the frozen tofu, then press firmly between paper towels to remove all excess water. It may take a few pressings to achieve this, but be patient... and thorough.
Slice the tofu block into 16 equal pieces.
Heat oil to 350 degrees F, and hold at that temperature.
In a baking dish or flat-bottomed bowl, combine chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, mustard powder, Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, black pepper and sage.
Stir in olive oil and 1/2 cup water.
Check batter consistency. It should resemble a thick, pourable batter. If necessary, add water, a teaspoon at a time, to reach the appropriate consistency.
Dunk the tofu pieces into the batter, coating well on all sides.
Fry battered tofu until crispy and golden; about one or two minutes on each side.
Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.
Now, to assemble your po'boy sandwiches, you'll need:
1 baguette loaf, sliced lengthwise (use a Gluten-Free loaf, if desired)
Lettuce or spinach leaves
Note: I also added a delicious hummus and a few slices of leftover breaded eggplant from my Eggplant Pomodoro recipe, which can also be made with Gluten-Free breadcrumbs in place of whole wheat. Traditional po'boys come "dressed" with lettuce, tomato and mayo, so mine is rather "fancy dressed," but I'm a Northerner, so I'm pleading ignorance.
Cut that baguette into sandwich-sized lengths, slather it in vegan mayo, and pile on the greens, tomatoes and tofu nuggets.
Then, open WIDE, 'cause this sandwich is more than a delicious mouthful! Call up ya mom'n'em, too... There's plenty to go 'round!
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