It comes as no surprise to anyone who reads my blog that I’m always trying to find interesting vegetarian analogs for meat-focused meals I enjoyed in my youth. Fried chicken is definitely one of those. It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten KFC, but I do remember how much I once enjoyed it.
I’ve read several recipes on how to make the best meatless fried chicken, with tons of cool tips and tricks to adjust the flavours and textures. While I’m still tweaking this recipe to get as close as I can to the remembered taste of the Good that is Finger Lickin’, I find that this is a good starting point, for two reasons: (1) I’m lazy, and (2) I’m not sure I want to slavishly recreate the flavour of chicken so much as I want to make something that is it’s own deliciousness and not trying to be something it, honestly, will never be. A third reason is an odd one that may be a little specific to my needs, which is that I also cook for my husband who is an unrepentant carnivore, and I don’t necessarily want to make two completely separate meals all of the time (see reason #1). So, this recipe had to be accessible for and delicious to both of us. to that end, my collage photo below also shows the (actual) seasoned and fried chicken tenders I made for him, giving them the same treatment as my tofu.
A few changes I will make the next time I try this recipe: I will definitely more heavily season my tofu prior to dipping and frying, both by adding more spices to the flour mixture and possibly by brining my tofu for a short period. Tofu really is a blank canvas that we can do virtually anything to, after all.
Fried KFC Copycat “Chicken”
YIELD: 8 pieces (4 svgs) | PREP: 30 mins | COOK: 10-15 mins
- 1 pkg/450g firm tofu, frozen and defrosted (or equivalent boneless chicken breasts)
- 1½ cups/192g all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup/120mL milk (any kind)
- 2 cups/215g Panko or regular breadcrumbs, or a mixture
- 1 tsp/6g salt
- 1 tsp/2.5g black pepper
- 1 tsp/2.5g onion powder
- 1 tsp/3.5g garlic granules or powder
- 1 tsp/2.25g sweet paprika
- ½ tsp/1g cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp/1g dried parsley flakes
- ¼ tsp/0.5g poultry seasoning or dried sage (optional)
- Slice defrosted tofu into 8 even pieces; lay out on clean kitchen towel on a cutting board and cover with a double-layer of paper towels. Place baking sheet and a heavy weight overtop to press tofu for at least 15 minutes. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, prep your breading station: place flour in one container, crack eggs and add milk to second and whisk until combined, and add breadcrumbs and all spices to third and combine. Have a plate or other vessel at the end of the line to receive breaded tofu.
- Add 1-2 inches of fresh vegetable or other high-smoke point oil to a high-sided frypan and heat to between 350°-375°F/180°-190°C; line a container to receive fried items with a couple of layers of paper towels and set aside.
- Once tofu has been suitably pressed, coat with flour on all sides, then dip in egg mixture, then press firmly into breadcrumbs and coat on all sides. Repeat until all pieces have been coated.
- At this point your oil should be ready; place tofu pieces into hot oil (don’t overcrowd the pan) and fry on both sides until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes depending on the size of your tofu pieces. Drain on paper towel lined plate at let cool for 1 minute. Serve hot with your favourite sides. Can be frozen and reheated by toasting or dry-pan frying at a later time.
If you want to skip the tofu altogether and just go for boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenderloins, skip step 1 and continue onwards with the remaining directions, using your preferred protein!