Sunday, June 24, 2018

Air "Fried" Tofu and Tempeh Steaks Coated with Quinoa

I'm excited about our new air fryer, the Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven TOA-60. I got it about a week ago and am impressed by its toasting (even and fast) and baking, with or without convection (it's fast!). I finally wanted to try the air frying function.

I believe that all "air frying" is with this oven is convection baking, maybe with faster air circulation, and with food put in a rectangular basket with holes allowing air circulation. That basket sits atop a baking tray that I put aluminum foil on to make cleanup easier.

For my first try, I was going to make a battered seitan, but my wife forgot to pick up bread crumbs and it turned out that we were out of seitan. How about tofu steaks for kiddo and me, and tempeh ones for my wife?

I have read that quinoa can be a good coating, so made some quinoa. I also bought some frozen French Fries. I put a little canola oil on a paper towel and wiped the basket to help with keeping food from sticking.

The fries were easy. I wanted to buy Cascadian Farms brand French Fries that are coated with a little apple juice to enhance browning without a lot of oil; for example, their crinkle cut fries have 4g of fat per 3 ounce serving. The store I quickly stopped at didn't have these, but they did have Alexia brand organic truffle fries, which I bought. They turned out to indeed be rather oily, with twice as much fat (8g per 3 ounces).

I covered the provided baking pan with foil to ease in cleanup and put the mesh basket, very lightly rubbed with oil, on top of the baking pan. The fries were to be cooked for 425°F for 15m, but I went with 400°F for 12m. They came out great but maybe a bit too crispy; 10-12m at 375°F would probably have sufficed.

Here is what I did for the steaks:

  • 1/3 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/4 t salt
  • I would have used a bouillon cube, but for some reason the Rapunzel brand cubes I love haven't been available for some weeks now
  • 4 ounces tofu for two of us, cut into approx. 1/4" x 1" x 2" pieces
  • 2 ounces tempeh for one, cut into approx. 1/4" x 3/4" x 1 1/2" pieces
  • (optional) 6-10 half moons of onion (approx 3/8" thick)
  • (optional) 1/8 cup frozen or fresh mushroom pieces
  • 3T nutritional yeast
  • 1t garlic powder or garlic granules
  1. I first cooked the quinoa by mixing the water, quinoa, and salt (and bouillon cube or broth, neither of which I had), bringing to a boil, then simmering, uncovered for 2 or 3 minutes.
  2. I took the quinoa off the heat and let it stand, covered (or uncovered - it may take a bit longer), for another 7-10 minutes or so till the liquid was fully absorbed and the quinoa took on its characteristic spiral shape.
  3. I dredged the tofu, tempeh, onion, and mushroom through the quinoa. The quinoa didn't stick well (in the future, I might try using a vegan "egg" such as Ener-G Egg Replacer, or even, for a savory and sweet flavor, maple syrup, first), so I mostly just patted some quinoa down on top.
  4. I air fried for 350°F for only about 7 minutes (I thought it would take longer, but it was done in 7 minutes!) and served.

Wow, we all loved the results of the air fryer. The main course was surprisingly good! It was so easy and came out so crispy and flavorful. My wife and I added hot sauce and my daughter added soy sauce to the steaks. This was a very successful first attempt!

Ideas for the future

 I'd like to try making French Fries from scratch by soaking potatoes for 20m then drying them before air frying them. But the frozen ones, oily though they were, were very good. I bet less oily frozen fries would be great!

My original idea of working with seitan is exciting; I can't wait to try hopefully crispy air fried seitan. I need to make or get some bread crumbs and also consider better sticking of a coating.

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