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Baked Harissa Popcorn Tofu

 Crisp little bites of breaded tofu flavoured with harissa and spices. Serve with a dip for the perfect snack.

Baked Harissa Popcorn Tofu

BAKED HARISSA POPCORN TOFU


I've been making these tofu bites for a while now and they are so good.

I thought it was about time I shared them with you.

They are super simple to make and they are baked, so a healthier option all round.

There's some oil in the harissa we flavour these with, but no added oil.


WHAT IS POPCORN TOFU?


Popcorn tofu is a breaded snack made with tofu.

The tofu is cut into small, bite-sized cubes, coated in breadcrumbs and baked or fried.

For a healthier version of popcorn tofu, bake them.

They will still be crisp and crunchy on the outside, but with less fat and calories.


firm tofu in a tofu press

WHAT TYPE OF TOFU DO I NEED TO MAKE POPCORN TOFU?



To make popcorn tofu you need a firm tofu.

The two main types of tofu are firm or silken.

Firm tofu is used mostly for savoury dishes where tofu is cooked in slices or chunks.

Silken tofu is a creamier consistency and is mainly used for sauces and desserts.

Want to find out more? Check out Viva's Guide to Tofu.



DO I HAVE TO PRESS TOFU?



When using firm tofu it usually has to be pressed.

Why does it need to be pressed?

Firm tofu is pressed to remove most of the moisture, so when you cook it the tofu is firm.

You can also buy extra-firm tofu, which doesn't need to be pressed, just patted with some kitchen paper.

You will notice that extra-firm tofu is more of a solid block and less spongy than firm tofu. 

Extra-firm tofu does save time but either firm or extra firm are good options for savoury dishes.


HOW TO PRESS TOFU


Pressing tofu is super easy.

You can either do it with a tofu press or with a few bits and pieces from around the kitchen.

Once the tofu is pressed it can be marinated or coated and cooked.


TOFU PRESS

A tofu press is the easiest option. 

You pop the firm tofu in the inside bowl of the press, add the lid and tighten.

Tofu presses are usually tightened with a screw or some kind of springy elastic band.

As it presses the liquid pours into the outer tub.


HOMEMADE TOFU PRESS

To press tofu without a commercial press, just wrap it in plenty of kitchen paper, then wrap it in a clean tea towel.

Top your wrapped tofu parcel with something heavy.

I have used a few cookbooks or a couple of tins of beans as a weight but just look around your kitchen to see what you have that could safely sit on top.

Leave it for 20 - 30 minutes until the liquid has drained off.


spiced breadcrumbs

WHAT IS POPCORN TOFU COATED WITH?


Popcorn tofu is coated in breadcrumbs.

I like to add a handful of nuts or seeds to the mixture, as well as spices.

Just add slices of bread to a blender or food processer and whizz up, then add the nuts or seeds and pulse until they are chopped too.

Don't overdo it with a power blender or you will end up with mush.

Once they are whizzed up, mix in the spices.

If you are using shop-bought breadcrumbs, finely chop the nuts and mix into the breadcrumbs with the spices.

I wouldn't bother getting my food processor out for a few nuts, but you could if you want.

Be careful if you are using a blender. Blend for more than a few seconds and you will end up with homemade nut butter.

Delicious, but not what you are looking for in this dish.


HOW TO COOK POPCORN TOFU


There are various ways you can cook popcorn tofu.

  1. BAKED - on an oven tray, turning halfway through.
  2. DEEP-FRIED - a tasty option but higher in fat.
  3. AIR-FRIED - fried in an air fryer with just a spoonful of oil. 

vegan mayo

WHAT DO YOU USE AS A BINDER INSTEAD OF EGG?


Vegan mayo is used as a binder, when making popcorn tofu.

It works really well binding the breadcrumbs to the tofu with no bare patches.

Vegan salad cream would work too, if you have that in the fridge.

I was also thinking that aquafaba (the water from a tin of chickpeas), which is quite gloopy might work well too, but I haven't tried that yet.

If you try the aquafaba, let me know how it works.


rose harissa

FLAVOURING THE MAYO


Flavouring the mayonnaise is another opportunity to add flavour to popcorn tofu.

I flavour the mayo with rose harissa, but any harissa would work.

You could also leave the mayo plain if you like.


WHAT IS HARISSA?


Harissa is either a spice mix or a paste, which is popular in North Africa and the Middle East.

It is made from peppers, chillies, spices and herbs.

If you buy or make your own spice blend, you can just add oil and it's ready to use as a marinade or spread.

Harissa often included rose petals and is often labelled rose harissa if it does.

My husband loves it swirled through mayo to scoop up with quesadillas or spread on a sandwich or wrap.

It also makes a good marinade for tofu or vegetables.


WHAT ELSE CAN YOU USE INSTEAD OF HARISSA?


If you don't have harissa, here are a few other ideas of how to flavour mayo for popcorn tofu.

  • Hot sauce
  • Pesto
  • BBQ sauce
  • Brown sauce (it's a UK thing!)
  • Tomato puree
  • Sundried tomato puree
  • Chilli paste

Harissa Popcorn Tofu on a platter with a trio of dips

HOW TO SERVE POPCORN TOFU


Popcorn tofu is a tasty snack but can be served as part of a meal. It's a great option for kids too.

Here are a few ideas on how to serve it.

  • Serve with dips
  • Serve with potato wedges & mini corn on the cob
  • Serve with a dressed salad
  • Serve with rice and vegetables
  • Serve with couscous and hummus


DIPS TO SERVE WITH POPCORN TOFU



Here are a few ideas for dips.

  • Ketchup
  • BBQ sauce
  • Hot Sauce
  • Vegan mayo
  • Vegan mayo mixed with lemon juice and zest
  • Vegan sour cream (or creme fraiche) mixed with fresh herbs
  • Vegan plain yoghurt mixed with fresh herbs
  • Hummus
  • Pesto


A baking tray of breaded tofu

WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE POPCORN TOFU


Here are the simple ingredients you need to make popcorn tofu.

  1. FIRM TOFU - Has to be firm tofu, not silken.
  2. CORNFLOUR - Which is also known as cornstarch.
  3. BREAD - Wholemeal or white bread (you can also use shop-bought breadcrumbs).
  4. NUTS - I used salted peanuts, but you could use other nuts The nuts are optional but really make a fab topping. You can use seeds instead of or as well as nuts.
  5. SPICES - I used chilli powder, paprika, cumin, ground coriander, salt and pepper, but you could use a ready-made spice mix or make your own.
  6. VEGAN MAYO - Used as a binder.
  7. HARISSA -To flavour the mayo. 


WHAT EQUIPMENT DO YOU NEED TO MAKE POPCORN TOFU?



You don't need any special equipment to make popcorn tofu.

  1. A FOOD PROCESSOR OR BLENDER - To make the breadcrumbs. Don't have one? Buy ready-made breadcrumbs.
  2. A KNIFE - To cut the tofu.
  3. SPOON - To measure the spices and mayo.
  4. 2 BOWLS - One for the mayo binder and one for the breadcrumbs.
  5. BAKING TRAY OR SHEET PAN - To bake the tofu on.
  6. OVEN - To bake the tofu in. You could also use an air fryer, deep fat fryer or cook in oil.

HOW LONG WILL POPCORN TOFU KEEP?



You can store popcorn tofu in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.

It loses its crispness, but is still a tasty snack.

It's very easy to just open the fridge door and pop another piece in your mouth.


Popcorn tofu bitten into to show the white tofu centre

WHAT DOES POPCORN TOFU TASTE LIKE?



Popcorn tofu is spicy on the outside and almost milky in flavour on the inside.

The crumb coating is spicy and crisp and the tofu is soft and chewy with a mild flavour.

The contrast of flavour and texture is fabulous.


MAKING POPCORN TOFU FOR CHILDREN


My son likes these but finds them a little spicy. He loves dunking them in ketchup, but always has a drink ready for any spicy bits.

If your child is good with spice, make them as per the recipe below (full recipe at the bottom of the post).

If they are not keen on spice you could flavour the mayo with harissa for a bit of flavour and warmth without heat, or try one of the other alternatives I shared above. That's it, don't add spice to the breadcrumbs.

Just season the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper and no spices.


LUNCHBOX SNACK


These breaded tofu bites make a great lunch box snack for kids going back to school and for adults too.

They are good hot or cold.

Add a wee tub of dip, some crunchy veg sticks to eat with them and some paper napkins to wipe your fingers.

A fabulous change from sandwiches.


IF YOU HAVE A NUT ALLERGY



If you have a nut allergy, you can still make these.

Just leave the nuts out of the breadcrumb mixture.

It's a tasty mix without them and just an added extra, not a vital ingredient.

If your child is taking them into school, definitely skip the nuts in case they share them with a friend or even just sit beside a friend with a severe nut allergy.



MORE TOFU RECIPES TO TRY



Here are a few more easy tofu recipes to try.



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Easy baked harissa flavoured popcorn tofu

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HOW TO MAKE HARISSA POPCORN TOFU


Scroll down for step-by-step photos followed by a full printable recipe. If you don't have a printer, hit print then save as a PDF. 

You can also use the wee Grow Me widget with the heart on the right to save your favourite recipes by signing in. Every time you come back your favourites will be right there, waiting for you.


Baked Popcorn Tofu - Step 1- Breadcrumbs

STEP 1


  1. Preheat the oven.
  2. Press the tofu (unless it is extra firm tofu, which doesn't need pressed), see notes above.
  3. Whizz up bread in a food processor or blender into breadcrumbs. Add nuts (optional) and whizz again.
  4. You can also use shop-bought breadcrumbs.
  5. Add spices and mix well.
  6. That's the coating ready.


Baked Popcorn Tofu - Step 2 - mayo binder

STEP 2


  1. Now to make the binder, to hold the breadcrumbs on.
  2. Mix harissa into mayo. There are other suggestions above, but you can leave the mayo plain. The harissa adds extra flavour.


Baked Popcorn Tofu - Step 3 - cubed and coated tofu

STEP 3


  1. Slice and cube your pressed tofu.
  2. Dip the tofu cubes in cornflour (also called cornstarch).
  3. Now dip each cube in the flavoured mayo, then roll in the spiced breadcrumbs.


Baked Popcorn Tofu -  Step 4 - baked tofu

STEP 4


Place the breaded tofu cubes on a baking tray.

I lined mine for easy cleanup but you don't have to.

Bake until a deep colour and crisp, turning halfway through.

Serve with dip and enjoy!
baked tofu, breaded tofu, easy tofu recipe, tofu snack, tofu, popcorn tofu, tofu bites, spiced tofu
snack
vegan
Yield: 38 - 40 bites
Author: Jacqueline Meldrum
Baked Harissa Popcorn Tofu

Baked Harissa Popcorn Tofu

Crisp little bites of breaded tofu flavoured with harissa and spices. Serve with a dip for the perfect snack.
Prep time: 15 MinCook time: 25 MinTotal time: 40 Min

Ingredients

  • 450g firm tofu (don't worry if your block is smaller), pressed (see notes)
  • 3 tbsp cornflour (also known as corn starch), more if you need it
  • 2 slices wholemeal bread (or any bread you have)
  • 4 tbsp salted peanuts, or other nuts (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 5 tbsp vegan mayo
  • 1 tsp rose harissa

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/350f/ gas mark 4.
  2. Press your tofu (see notes). If you are using extra-firm tofu you can skip this step as it is pre-pressed.
  3. If you're making your own breadcrumbs, whizz the bread up in a food processor or blender, then add the nuts (if you are using them) and whizz them too.
  4. Pour the breadcrumbs into a bowl, add the spices, mix in and set aside.
  5. Mix the mayo in a bowl with the harissa (see notes for alternatives), set aside.
  6. Slice and then cube the pressed tofu.
  7. Pour cornflour (cornstarch) into a bowl and dip each cube of tofu in it so they are all well coated. 
  8. Now dip the tofu in the mayo, then roll in breadcrumbs. I found using 2 teaspoons a good way to toss in mayo and breadcrumbs without getting too messy. If you are over-generous with the mayo, you may run out and have to make up some more.
  9. Lay the breaded tofu on one or two baking trays (I lined them for easier cleaning up) and bake for 25-30 minutes, turning once halfway through, until crisp and deeper in colour.
  10. Serve with dip.
  11. Enjoy!

Notes:

Press tofu in tofu press to remove excess liquid.

If you don't have a tofu press, wrap generously in kitchen paper, then wrap in a clean teatowel and weight by adding cookbooks or tins on top for 20-30 minutes.

Instead of harissa you could use hot sauce or pesto, see more ideas in the blog post.

You can also leave the mayo plain.

Skip the nuts if you have a nut allergy or are sending to school in a lunchbox.

You can use less spices in the breadcrumbs or leave the spices out and just season with salt and pepper.

These bites can be kept in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. They won't be as crisp but are still a tasty snack.

Calories

26.96

Fat (grams)

2.10

Sat. Fat (grams)

0.34

Carbs (grams)

0.95

Fiber (grams)

0.29

Net carbs

0.66

Sugar (grams)

0.27

Protein (grams)

1.50

Sodium (milligrams)

49.52

Cholesterol (grams)

0.01
Created using The Recipes Generator

21 comments

  1. Ooh, these look yummy! My sister bought me an air fryer for my birthday and I don't honestly know what to do with it. This might be worth trying to frying them up quickly - although I'm a big fan of the lined baking sheet myself. I haven't experimented much with harissa, but seems like now's a great time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes these would be perfect in the air fryer in fact tofu on it's own is supposed to be fab in it. I don't use mine enough. I hope you guys are well. It's been too long!

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  2. Oh I have a tub of tofu at the back of the fridge. I was wondering what to do with it. I might try it with srirachi sauce instead of harissa. Jill

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    Replies
    1. Oh yes that's a great idea, although even spicier!

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    2. It was really good but boy was it spicy with the srirachi. Jill

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  3. We fooled everyone that ate this that it was Tofu used pistachio nuts and it was wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is reminiscent of spicy nuggets right enough. Pistachios are a good idea Glad you enjoyed it

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  4. This version of popcorn tofu looks incredibly flavourful! Can't wait to try it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you try it and enjoy it as much as we do.

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  5. What a delicious way to cook tofu! Sounds absolutely incredible with all those spices. Love those dipping ideas too.

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  6. Oh wow! These look so tasty and amazing! So excited to make this for my family!

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    Replies
    1. These areca real family pleasee. Let's face it adults and kids love anything with a dip.

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  7. This is such a genius idea to use harissa and tofu! Nothing beats delicious crispy tofu.

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  8. I might try the air fryer suggestion! This is my kind of snack - love how crispy they are!

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    Replies
    1. Oh yes they will be wonderful in the air fryer. Enjoy them!

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  9. These sound absolutely incredible! I just adore harissa and am always looking for new things to do with tofu.

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  10. I can just imagine how delicious this tofu is its sounds fabulous and a must try soon!

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  11. TOFU is my favorite! I love this recipe! thanks a lot for sharing!

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  12. What a great idea. So easy and healthy. Looks delicious too. Now I can't wait to give this a try.

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I love reading comments, so thank you for taking the time to leave one. Unfortunately, I'm bombarded with spam, so I've turned on comment moderation. I'll publish your comments as soon as I can and respond to them. Don't panic, they will disappear when you hit publish. Jac x