Vegan Mochi Tofu Nuggets


I was inspired to make these little nuggets of vegan goodness by a recipe for mochi chicken that was posted in the forums by member SojoMojo. He says that mochi chicken is a common dish in Hawaii; he grew up eating them and now loves to use them in his bentos. (As I learn more about Hawaiian cuisine, I realize that it departs from Japanese cuisine in many interesting ways, even if many of its roots are in Japan.) The mochi flour, cornstarch and egg batter produces a coating that is hard and crispy on the outside, and soft and mochi-like on the inside. Chicken lovers should try his recipe for sure!

For this vegan variation, I’ve used kouya dofu, or free-dried tofu. See an indepth description of kouya dofu. You can find it in the dried goods section of a Japanese grocery store, and it should be pretty inexpensive. It keeps indefinitely in the pantry, making it a great item to stock. If you can’t get hold of kouya dofu, see the notes below about how to use regular tofu you’ve frozen yourself. I’ve also eliminated the egg from the coating, but the flavor-filled liquid in the pre-cooked tofu still produces a nice soft mochi-like interior.

As with all the vegan-protein recipes I post here, this tastes delicious to omnivores like myself too. As a matter of fact, when I packed a bento recently for the self-professed “bovo-vegetarian” in the house recently with these nuggets together with something meaty, he said he preferred these a lot more!

Recipe: Vegan Mochi Tofu Nuggets

The whole process takes some time, but you can cook the tofu in advance and just coat and fry them up when you need them.

About 50 to 60 calories per nugget, depending on how well they are drained after frying.

For Step 1:

  • 4-6 kouya dofu squares
  • 3 cups of vegan dashi, using dried shiitake mushrooms if possible (you can use the shiitake mushrooms for another dish). Or, use a vegetable stock cube dissolved in water.
  • 3 Tbs. soy sauce (2 if you are using a vegetable stock cube)
  • 1 Tbs. mirin
  • 1 Tbs. sake

Soak the kouya dofu squares in water for a few minutes to soften. Lightly press them to expel the water. Cut the squares into quarters.

Combine the other ingredients in a pan and bring up to a simmer. Put the kouya dofu in (add some water or dashi if you need it to cover the squares), and simmer for about 10 minutes with a lid on. Turn the heat off and let cool. You can refrigerate this for 2-3 days. The simmered kouya dofu is delicious as-is, so you could use half of them just so (press out a bit of the liquid to prevent a flood in your bento box) and the rest for the nuggets.

For Step 2:

  • The cooked kouya dofu
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup mochiko or mochi flour (‘sweet’ or glutinous rice flour, available at Japanese or Asian groceries and health food stores)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • Oil for frying

Combine the mochi flour and cornstarch. Take the kouya dofu squares out of the liquid, and press lightly to get rid of excess moisture. Coat them in the combined flour.

Heat up a frying pan with about 1/2 inch / 1 cm of frying oil. (You can add a few drops of sesame oil if you like to add a nutty flavor.) Fry the nuggets on both sides until golden brown and crispy. Drain off the oil well.

For bentos, let them cool down before putting into the box. They are also delicious piping hot.

Using regular tofu

If you are using regular tofu, you will need to freeze it as per the instructions on this page. Once the tofu has become spongy, press out the moisture as well as you can, then proceed as above and cook them in the liquid, etc. Regular frozen tofu doesn’t have the same meaty texture as kouya dofu, but it’s still pretty good.

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Re: Vegan Mochi Tofu Nuggets

I bet this will be good with seitan as well.

Re: Vegan Mochi Tofu Nuggets

What a coincident! Yesterday, I was looking for a chicken tofu recipe for some good health protein. I remember my mother making a chicken tofu dish that can be served cold. I tried calling her to ask for the recipe, but she isn't good about giving exact measurements. I don't think she's ever used measuring spoons or cups when she cooks so it makes it daunting to follow her cooking instructions!

Anyway, this looks GOOD. I'm looking forward to giving it a try this weekend since I need to add a bit more variety to my bento.

Re: Vegan Mochi Tofu Nuggets

Mmm..just made these for dinner (with fresh, frozen tofu) with some well steamed aubergines and rice. Not in a bento I'm afraid, but delicious nonetheless. These are really nice and crispy!

Re: Vegan Mochi Tofu Nuggets

They really look tasty. I have made something like this before and put sauce on the top of them.

I think with a recipe like this sesame oil really adds to the flavor.

Re: Vegan Mochi Tofu Nuggets

This is a great recipe. They're a little bland by themselves, but dipping them in soy sauce and wasabi really completed this dish. The texture is really nice and of course they would be a perfect dish for your bento box.

Re: Vegan Mochi Tofu Nuggets

I had a couple problems making this. I went to my local grocery store and the staff had no idea what mochiko was... and I live in Japan! The staff (I think about 3 members were called) decided it was a mysterious kanji package with no hint of mochi or ko. But there was a picture showing that it could be used for dango or manjuu and it did say mochi in hiragana somewhere on the package so I guess that was it. As I was frying it, the cubes soaked up all the oil and I had to keep reloading the pan with oil to keep frying it lest it burnt. I think there's something like 3 turns of oil in those puppies. The result is it tastes of fried something, the texture is definitely meaty. I think these make great snacks, although the process was a bit much for me to do at one time. This is the first time I've enjoyed tofu. Thanks Maki!

Re: Vegan Mochi Tofu Nuggets

Actually, Mochiko is a name that's unknown in Japan. It's a Hawaiian term mainly. In Japan, you could get shiratamako (白玉粉), which is grainy, and break it up a bit into a fine powder before proceeding. Shiratamako is mochiko with some potato starch added.

Re: Vegan Mochi Tofu Nuggets

Ah, I figured the problem was something along those lines!

Re: Vegan Mochi Tofu Nuggets

Maki: I dunno if you'll get this, but I just wanted to say how much I love these. I've been making them for my lunches for a little while now. I added a little pepper to the rice flour coating and I serve them up in my bento with a little container of sweet chili sauce. DELISH

Also, thank you SO MUCH for introducing me to kouya dofu. I adore this stuff.

I'm going to try using it the dry/grated method to make some gluten-free vegetarian sausages for my breakfasts and bentos next!

Re: Vegan Mochi Tofu Nuggets

Believe me, I do (eventually) read all the comments! I'm glad you like kouya dofu - it is a great, versatile ingredient, especially for vegans/vegetarians.

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