Sitting at my favorite Irish pub the other day, I saw a big platter of fish and chips going by perched (pun intended) on the waitress's arm. A fish joint alumnae (I was First Mate at the seafood shoppe), I was struck with longing - not for the fish, but for the batter. Oh, that batter. So I concocted my own vegetarian version - beer batter...tofu. Yep. Tofu. White fish is relatively without flavor (not entirely), so this turned out to be a better idea than I first thought. And to be honest, my first thought was "Lori, you're crazy. That's going to taste like crap."
It didn't. It even passed muster with my England-raised husband, who thrived on fish and chips.
Beer Batter Tofu
3 egg whites (vegans, you can easily substitute Egg Replacer here)
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup beer (I used Boddingtons Ale, but any mild ale will do)
2-3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbl. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbl. cornstarch
1 Tbl. Old Bay Seasoning
1-2 tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
Oil for frying (eliminate if oven baking)
1 carton extra-firm tofu
Drain tofu and press slightly between paper towels to dry. Cut tofu on a diagonal, corner to corner, making two triangles. From there, stand one triangle on the "fat" end, then cut through, making three same-size triangles. Repeat with the other side. Set aside.
Mix flour, baking powder, soda, and cornstarch in a bowl. Set aside.
Beat together egg whites and milk. Add beer. Slowly stir in flour mixture, making sure all dry ingredients are wet. Add more flour as needed to make sure consistency is thick and doesn't run easily (this may take a little more flour - just keep experimenting until the batter is thin enough to adhere to the tofu and thick enough to not all run off).
Heat about 1/2 inch of safflower or vegetable oil in a skillet on medium heat. Once oil is heated, dip tofu into batter, using a wooden spoon or small spatula to keep the tofu from tearing or getting lost. Lower into oil carefully and fry, 4-5 minutes on each side, then transfer to paper towels to drain.
If you don't want to fry it, bake it! I did it both ways. Frying is much more flavorful, but the baking still retained a good deal of flavor. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray. Dip tofu as described above and place on tray (expect a bit more batter run-off with this method). Bake for 20 minutes (crust should be golden).
Serve with fries or boiled potatoes. And plenty of malt vinegar!