Wednesday 2 October 2013

Chili Cornmeal Crusted Tofu & Mexican Rice

Chili Cornmeal Crusted Tofu with Mexican Rice.

This was a lovely meal! I've been wanting to try this chili cornmeal tofu since 2007. I kid you not, that might just be a new record for me....sigh, I do get around to things, eventually :-) 

Chili Cornmeal Crusted Tofu

It was featured in a Canadian Living magazine back then as a coating for catfish but I thought it would make a really nice crispy coating for tofu and it does. Great flavour with a crispy crunchy coating, they were perfect dipped into some salsa. I used a soft but not silken tofu here (Cauldron brand for those in the UK/IRE) but I'm sure any non-silken tofu would work well. I opted to marinade mine in some vegetable stock for added flavour - I used my standard veg stock - Marigold Organic Vegan Vegetable Bouillon powder, but just use whatever stock you like.

Chili Cornmeal Crusted Tofu and Mexican Rice.

The Mexican rice has been a standard in our house for months now. I got the recipe from FOOD.COM, (submitted by Pot Scrubber); as you can see it had an average rating of almost 5 stars and nearly 600 reviews so I knew it had to be good! It's absolutely gorgeous, great flavour but more importantly, amazing texture as you end up with perfectly separated grains of rice. 

Mexican Rice

I have made a few changes, mostly I reduced the amount of oil as I found it unnecessarily high and a little too oily the first time. I also used the option of a can of tomatoes over fresh as it's easier. I replace the cilantro with parsley, I know it's not traditional but I despise cilantro! For the chillies, I just use whatever chillies we happen to have growing in our poly-tunnel so I've used different chillies every time; as a result, sometimes it's hot, sometimes not! This time I also added a green pepper simply as I had one on hand but that is optional. Basically as long as you keep the amount of rice and liquids the same you can do what you like with this one.

Crispy Chili Cornmeal Crusted Tofu.

Chili Cornmeal Crusted Tofu - serves 2.

• 200g tofu, soft or firm but not silken.
• 2 Tbsp cornmeal or dry polenta
• 2 Tbsp flour
• ½ tsp hot chili powder 
• ¼ tsp salt
• 2 Tbsp corn oil to fry
• 1 tsp vegetable stock to marinade
• salsa to dip
• fresh lime wedges to serve

Please note: The chilli powder I've used here is Schwartz brand Hot Chilli Powder. It's actually a mixture of: chilli pepper, cayenne, cumin, salt, oregano and garlic.

Mix the vegetable stock with a splash of hot water and stir until dissolved. Top up with 125ml of cold water and mix well. Set aside.

Slice the tofu into whatever shape you like, I went with sticks. Make sure they are not too thick, about an inch should do. Press the tofu between sheets of paper towel, changing the towel as necessary until the tofu is fairly dry, mine takes about an hour and a few changes of towel. Soft tofu will take longer than firm here.

Pierce the tofu a few times with a fork then place in a shallow dish and pour over the vegetable stock. Cover and let marinade for at least 1 hour, turning them once or twice.

Mix together the cornmeal, flour, chilli powder and salt then tip onto a plate. With one hand, remove a tofu stick out of the marinade and let the excess liquid drip off, place into the cornmeal mixture and using your other hand press the mixture onto all sides of the tofu. Continue with the rest of the sticks keeping one hand wet and the other dry - it's just tidier this way!

Tip - make sure you only coat the tofu right before you fry them, otherwise the mixture can get absorbed into the tofu and you won't get a nice crispy coating.

Heat the corn oil in a frying pan until hot then fry the tofu until golden brown and crispy on both sides. Transfer to a couple sheets of paper towel to drain away any excess oil.

Serve immediately with some salsa to dip into and a wedge of lime to squeeze over.

Mexican Rice

Mexican Rice - serves 6 as a side dish/3 as a main.

• 1 can (400g) plum tomatoes with juice
• 1 large onion, diced

~ Add the whole tin of plum tomatoes and raw onion to a blender and blend until smooth~

• 225g white long grain rice
• 2 Tbsp corn oil
• 1 green pepper, diced small - optional
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 red chillies or jalapenos, finely chopped. (De-seeding is up to you!)
• 1 cup/ 250ml of the tomato/onion puree
• ¼ litre water mixed with 1 tsp marigold vegetable bouillon (or equivalent vegetable stock of your choice).
• ¾ tsp salt
• 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro or parsley

~wedges of fresh lime and slices of avocado to serve~

Preheat the oven to 180C. Wash the rice very well until the water runs clear. This step is very important to give you perfectly separated grains of rice - do not skip it! I put my rice in a fine sieve and place it in a bowl, fill it with water and wash the rice with my hands then lift the sieve out of the water, empty the bowl and repeat until the water is clear. I finish with placing the rice in the sieve under cold running water. Let the rice drain very well.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan then add the rice. Fry on a gentle heat until the grains look fairly clear, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili and green peppers (if using) and fry for a few minutes more.

Add the tomato/onion purée, vegetable stock and salt and bring to the boil. Transfer to a large greased casserole dish with a lid - make sure there is room for the rice to expand. Now pop it in the oven for 30 minutes. Give it a stir halfway through and stir in the finely chopped cilantro or parsley at the end. 

The rice should be perfectly cooked at this point with all liquid absorbed and nicely separated grains BUT all ovens are different. If there is still liquid left then cook it a bit longer; if it is dry but the rice is not cooked then add a bit more water and cook a bit longer.

Serve immediately with a wedge of lime to squeeze over. To store leftovers safely, spread the rice out onto a large plate and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to a suitable sized container and get it into the fridge within 1 hour. Reheat well either in the microwave or on the stove top with a splash of water.

The rice is a perfect side dish to the chili-cornmeal crusted tofu and salsa, just serve with lime wedges and sliced avocado. A side salad wouldn't go amiss either!

Chili Cornmeal Crusted Tofu with Mexican Rice.

Nutritional Information

Chili-Cornmeal Crusted Tofu - 1 serving, including oil to fry:
Calories: 193
Protein: 9.8g
Fat: 10.8g
Sat Fat: 1.8g
Fibre: 2.1g
Carbs: 14.3g
Sugar: 0.8g
Sodium: 294mg
Calcium: 112mg

Mexican Rice - 1 side serving out of 6:
Calories: 215
Protein: 3.9g
Fat: 7.9g
Sat Fat: 1.2g
Fibre: 1.9g
Carbs: 32.6g
Sugar: 2.5g
Sodium: 461mg

Dessert Option
Coconut - Lime Bundt Cake


  1. I want to make this. I wish I had a bigger kitchen and a vegan grocery store where I live.

  2. Can you tell us what sort of camera you use for the fab photography? I must try that tofu dish!

    1. Thanks :-) I have a Canon EOS 1100D. Hope you like the tofu!

    2. Thank you! Not tried the tofu yet, I have the cornmeal, just need to get the tofu!

  3. This looks delicious. Love the sound of both the rice dish and the cornmeal crusted tofu. I made a cashew crusted tofu this summer which was so tasty :)

  4. This tofu sounds so good! Will definitely be trying this :)

  5. Well thanks for solving my "what's for dinner?" conundrum for tomorrow :) I suppose that the tofu would bake just as well as it fried? I also think I may try cauliflower rice rather than standard rice. Can't wait!

    1. Cool! I haven't tried it baked but I don't see why not, should be just fine :-) Hope it works out for you!

  6. That looks delicious never thought of using corn meal with tofu must give it a try.

  7. This looks wonderful, I've been looking for more creative tofu recipes - thanks!


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