Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Vegan English baking: Baked tofu 'scampi' with peas and potato

This is my fourth Vegan English baking post, but the first that is savoury rather than sweet. Unusually for me, I have been as enthused about this post as the sweet-themed ones, and have been looking forward to publishing it today.

For those of you not familiar with scampi, they are a type of small prawn commonly found across Britain. Deep-fried scampi are a standard item on pub menus, with the scampi usually being dipped in egg and breadcrumbs before the deep frying. In my younger years, it was one of my standard pub menu orders when on holiday in England and I found the scampi to be served, invariably, with peas and either chips or baked potato.

Since Mel posted her recipe for tofu fish fingers, I have wanted to try a fish-inspired tofu dish. I was thus interested to note that Mel's tofu fish fingers were adapted from Bryanna's tofu scallops. It is not a huge leap from scallops to scampi (different species, but similarly sized!) and I decided that tofu scampi would be just the thing for my English baking theme.

As you might have deduced, I decided to bake my scampi rather than fry them. I generally prefer baked or roasted foods to fried ones, and also don't trust myself with a pan of hot oil and the task of plunging items into it. Baking seemed a safer choice all around.

I followed Bryanna's and Mel's recipes closely, but simplified the ingredient list slightly and used Panko breadcrumbs instead of the Anchor brand I usually use. I found the Panko by chance in an Asian store and was pleased to have the opportunity to try them; as it turns out, I liked them less than regular breadcrumbs, perhaps because I didn't deep fry them when they are intended for that purpose. I found them a bit too light and also too pale in appearance (a minor complaint, but it irked me nonetheless!).

Breadcrumb brands aside, I really enjoyed this meal. I wasn't sure what to expect in taste, but the tofu pieces do indeed taste seafood-y. They are not going to be mistaken for true scampi, in taste or in appearance, but they certainly gave a nod of acknowledgement to the pub dishes of my memories. Mr Bite has never tried scampi and he didn't think these were particularly fish-y, but he did say that they didn't taste of tofu and that he liked them, so I will call that a success even if I didn't deliver a strong seafood experience for him.

The main feature that made these 'scampi', rather than tofu fingers or scallops, was the shape. Fried scampi generally form a rough triangle shape and that is what I tried to create here (picture a prawn that has been breaded and you will see what I was aiming for!). I served them with baked potatoes and peas (me) or mushy peas (Mr Bite), and can recommend those side dishes. I didn't bother with tartare sauce but Mel and Bryanna both provide vegan recipes for that if you are interested.

Baked tofu 'scampi'
A baked vegan version of the deep-fried English pub classic
Adapted from Bryanna's tofu scallops and Mel's tofu fish fingers
Makes about 24 small 'scampi' pieces

350g block of tofu
1 cup of water
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 sheet nori / seaweed, crushed or shredded
1 tsp brown sugar

1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used almond) curdled with 1 tsp vinegar
1 cup breadcrumbs

Ahead of time, press your tofu and cut the block into three strips. Cut each strip into 4 triangles, and then cut each triangle in half to give 24 pieces that approximate small curled prawns in shape.

In a large shallow dish, combine the water, soy sauce, lemon juice, 1 tbsp vinegar, crushed nori and brown sugar, and whisk to combine. Place the tofu pieces in the marinade and allow to sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes but preferably longer.

When the tofu has marinated, preheat your oven to 200'C and line two baking trays with nonstick paper.

Place your plain flour, curdled non-dairy milk and breadcrumbs in three bowls. Dip each 'scallop' in the flour, then milk, then coat well in the breadcrumbs. Place on the baking tray.

Cook the scallops for 20 minutes, turning at the 10 minute mark, or until golden brown and crispy.

...coated and before cooking...
...and after cooking.

These are best served straight from the oven, or at least re-heated in the oven. The crispy coating becomes soggy if microwaved, but I did find that eating the leftovers cold was quite enjoyable too (something that wouldn't be found, I suspect, with traditional scampi!).

All in all, this was a great variation on tofu and a fun meal to make. I am not sure if I will worry too much about the shape of the tofu pieces in future but these are definitely likely to appear again in some form.

Have you ever had scampi? What about fish-inspired tofu dishes?

This post is part of my Vegan Month of Food contributions for October 2012. 


  1. Yay, I'm glad this worked for you! I tried a baked version of the fingers recently but I also used polenta as the coating and we really didn't like them, I think it was due to the polenta and not baking but I have been meaning to try baking them again with breadcrumbs.

    I love your scampi shaped tofu, they look great! I don't mind the leftovers cold either, the man made himself a cold tofu "fish" finger sandwich once which he loved.

    1. Thanks Mel - it was a great recipe! I've made a note to steer clear of polenta (the coating is such an important part, I can see how it not being right would sink the dish somewhat) but would recommend baking with breadcrumbs if you're keen to try that.

      I'm going to keep a cold tofu fish finger sandwich in mind :-)

  2. What a FUN idea!!1 Scampi tofu. genius! I have only had scampi in the fish form and have never had a faux tofu fish before but I guess this is now my time! I prefer the baked to fried too...hands down!
    Very fun post!!

  3. Ooh, Kari! You know how much I LOVE experimenting with tofu ;). This sounds divine! Scampi tofu...I like the sound of that! And I'm with you...I do NOT want to mess with a pot of hot oil so I bake everything. Tim's response would be very similar to Mr. Bite's, I would imagine. We should be grateful that they don't completely reject the foods we put in front of them hehe

    1. Absolutely! I'm so grateful when he likes a tofu dish that I don't care if his experience of it is completely different to what I intended, so long as it's deemed edible :)

  4. I've never heard of 'scampi' tofu. It looks really good and I think your tofu has turned out very well xx

  5. This looks very good indeed - I don't mind tofu, although a lot of people seem to be turned off at the mention of it.

    1. I think once you've immersed yourself in the world of tofu, you forget that some people don't like it. At the same time, I live with someone who likes it in small doses only so I do relate to the being turned off concept if it's not prepared well!

  6. Wow this sounds really delicious! I miss things like scampi, I will have to try this! Glad it worked out baked, I also don't like frying- messy, dangerous (for me at least ;))and not healthy!

    1. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who doesn't trust themselves with frying!

  7. Since I never really liked shrimp or scallops when I ate them, I've never really felt a need to make a dish that tastes like them. These do look tasty though!

    Now if I could salmon-ify a dish...mmm.

    1. Salmon is one thing I would have no idea how to make without actually using salmon. It has such a distinctive flavour! If you manage it, please share :-)

  8. That's so interesting - I've never heard that definition of scampi before! Which I hesitate to write, in case I'm in some strange American enclave and everybody else is like, um, what, that's obviously what everyone in the world means when they say it! I've always experienced scampi as small shrimp sauteed in butter and garlic - though now I want to try your version!

    1. You're actually spot on with your definition :) I think shrimp in America are generally called prawns in England (and sometimes they're called shrimp there too), so the main difference in the American version seems to be sauteeing rather than bread crumbing. My version is a vegetarian pretender so I've been a bit loose with my use of 'scampi' ;)

  9. Scampi tofu is a new one for me but it looks really interesting.

  10. Until you cut them into little shrimp shapes, darlin', I'm going to call these tofu scallops. So there. :P (P.S. Tofu + nori = GOOD.)

  11. I never had scampi but always liked the name - I remember Mel's recipe and am keen to try this - I want enough seafood flavour to feed my nostalgia for fish and chips but not enough to make me remember the actual taste of the fish (if that is at all possible). No doubt I would need chips or at least roast potatoes with these to really taste the try nostalgia

    1. I think chips or potatoes are definitely important - I found the peas important too! - and you may find that the seafood flavour that comes from the nori is enough to give the nostalgia without being too overpowering. I didn't find it particularly strong, but it was definitely different to any tofu I'd had before.


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