Cooking tofu in the air fryer may be my favourite method because it makes the breading super crispy without being greasy and the circulation of hot air in the fryer basket helps remove some of the excess moisture in the tofu, making it chewy and concentrating the flavour of the marinade, which I love. But don’t worry if you don’t own an air fryer, I have an oven-baked option for this recipe that is just as tasty!

I saw a recipe on Pinterest by the Well Vegan Blog for Coconut Crusted Tofu, and it inspired me to try and recreate it in the air fryer. Unlike their recipe, I use date sugar for the marinade (mostly because I couldn’t find coconut sugar) and I use a combination of coconut milk and water for the batter, to really enhance that coconut flavour.

The trick to any battered air fryer recipe is to spray a light layer of oil before cooking. This helps makes the exterior of the tofu crispy and prevents it from being too dry.

Here’s the recipe:

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

For the Marinade

  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp water
  • ¼ cup date sugar (coconut sugar or brown sugar also works)
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger

For the Batter

  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp water

For the Breadcrumb Coating

  • ½ whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • ¾ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Olive oil cooking spray

Directions

  1. *Optional* drain the tofu and wrap in a tea towel and place something heavy on top to press out any excess moisture for 30 minutes.
  2. Cut the tofu into small cubes and transfer into a shallow dish or loaf tin.
  3. Make the marinade: In a microwave-safe bowl, mix together the tamari, water, and date sugar. Microwave in 30 second intervals until the sugar has dissolved, then add the lime juice and grated ginger and stir to combine.
  4. Pour the marinade over the tofu and mix to evenly coat all of the tofu. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. Make the batter: When the tofu is ready, assemble the batter. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, corn starch, and baking powder, then add in the coconut milk and water and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
  6. In another bowl, whisk together the breadcrumbs and shredded coconut.
  7. To assemble: Take the tofu from the fridge and dip each piece into the batter. Tap off any excess and then dip into the breadcrumb and coconut mixture, using your fingers to gently press the breadcrumbs into the tofu. Place in your air fryer basket and repeat until there is a single layer of tofu bites in the basket, spaced about 1 cm apart.
  8. Spray the tofu with an even layer of olive oil cooking spray and cook at 370-375oF for 9-11 minutes, flipping halfway through and spraying the other side with some more oil.
  9. Repeat steps 7&8 with the remaining tofu.
  10. Serve with your favourite dipping sauce or add to a rice bowl for some protein and crunch.

Oven-Baked Option

If you don’t own an air fryer, don’t fret. Here’s the oven-baked option for this recipe:

  1. Follow steps 1-4 as listed above.
  2. Preheat oven to 400oF.
  3. Follow steps 5-7 as listed above, placing the breaded tofu on a parchment lined baking sheet rather than in the air fryer basket.
  4. Spray with olive oil cooking spray and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. After 10 minutes, flip the tofu over and spray the other side with cooking spray to ensure even crisping and browning.
  5. Serve with your favourite dipping sauce or add to a rice bowl for some protein and crunch.

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