Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Tofu Fish Sticks

This has been one of the most requested recipes on the Vegan Lunch Box blog. Everyone's crazy for these cute little fishies! Of course, you can cut them into any shape you prefer, sticks being the easiest and most economical. They stay crispy and crunchy in the lunchbox.

Kelp granules can be found in shaker containers at health food stores or here at vegangoods.com. Sprinkle them on any food for a low-sodium salt alternative; it is a good source of iodine.

serves 4

1 lb. package firm tofu, drained
2/3 cup fine organic cornmeal (or white flour)
2/3 cup sliced almonds
2 tsp. sweet paprika
2 tsp. kelp granules
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. dill weed
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2/3 cup plain, unsweetened soymilk
1 lemon
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and coat parchment with olive oil. Set aside.

Combine the cornmeal or flour, sliced almonds, paprika, kelp, salt, onion and garlic powder, dill weed, and black pepper in a blender, and blend on high until most of the almonds have been turned into a coarse meal, with a few larger pieces of almond remaining. Pour the mixture into a wide baking dish or pie plate.

Place the plain soymilk into a bowl and set next to the cornmeal mixture.

With a sharp knife, cut the tofu into even slices just under ½-inch wide. Cut tofu out into fish sticks, or use a fish-shaped cookie cutter to cut out tofu fish.

Working with one piece at a time, dip the tofu into the plain soymilk, then toss gently in the cornmeal mixture to coat evenly. Place on the prepared baking sheet. When all the tofu fish are on the baking sheet, sprinkle them with olive oil.

Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the tofu fish over and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until crispy (if making tater tots, place them on the baking sheet for the last 15 minutes).

Remove tofu fish onto a plate, and squeeze some fresh lemon juice evenly over the tofu.


Anonymous said...

Do you have a calorie content for this, I would love to try it.

LadyRachelLynn said...

Obviously baking is healthier, but can these be fried and if so, any special instructions?

Michelle said...

my son's school is nut free, so no almonds for school snacks.. do you think sunflower seeds would work just as well?

Anonymous said...

Here is the nutritional data for each serving of this recipe as I calculated it. (Note: this is just an estimate; actual data may vary depending on specific ingredients used.)

Calories. . . . 310
Fat Calories . 140
Total Fat . . . 16g
Sat Fat. . . . . 1g
Cholesterol. . 0mg
Sodium . . . . 1197mg
Total Carb . . 28g
Fiber. . . . . . 4g
Sugars. . . . . 1g
Protein . . . . 15g

Anonymous said...

are kelp granules the same as kelp powder? or is there a difference?

Jennifershmoo said...

Thanks for the calorie count. I'm not sure how you arrived at your numbers -- perhaps entering all the ingredient amounts and dividing by serving size? If so, remember that the tofu is dipped in the soymilk and coating; some of the coating mix and soymilk are left over after all the tofu are covered.

I think kelp powder would work just fine. It is finer than the flakes.

Hi, ladyrachellynn -- Yes, I'm sure they could be. Fry away! I bet the calorie count will go up, but they'll be tasty. :-)

Hi, michelle -- I don't know about sunflower seeds, they might be tasty. If I couldn't use the almonds I would probably substitute more cornmeal.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the recipes! I made these for dinner tonight with some ginger dipping sauce, and your cheeze fondue recipe with assorted vegetables (Friday night dipping-fest!). Both recipes were fantastic! Your blogs are so inspirational. Having an interesting, healthy lunch really brightens my day, and I always look forward to your updates.
All the best,

JennyLouWho said...

Hi, Jennifershmoo! I tried these this weekend and absolutely loved them! I love how crispy they get, and that the kelp does give them a "fishy" taste. One note: the recipe doesn't say when to add the dill and pepper. I assumed it was with all the other dry ingredients. I really appreciate all your hard work, and am eagerly awaiting your cookbook!

Jennifershmoo said...

Thank you, Anne and Jenny, that's so great to hear! Jenny, thanks so much for catching that skip in the instructions for me -- I've fixed it for the book.

Anonymous said...

I've heard the trick for creating a fish like texture is freezing the tofu overnight.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this recipe!! I can't wait to try this. As a college student that packs a lunch your blog is very helpful. =)

Beth said...

I didn't even make these RIGHT and they still turned out awesome. I ran out of almonds, so I ended up using some almonds, sunflower seeds (hey michelle, it works!) and pumpkin seeds, then making sure I ground them fine. My fiance and I ended up making yummy vegan "fish" tacos with them, and they were wonderful! Awesome recipe, Jennifer, I can't wait for the cookbook.

Anonymous said...

I didn't have any almonds, so I used Scottish oatmeal instead. It worked too! These fishies are amazing! :)

Anonymous said...

Yum! Thank you jenniferschmoo.

Anonymous said...

I finally, after weeks of drooling, made these last night and they were divine!!! I made a burrito with whole wheat tortillas, red cabbage, red and orange bell peppers and FF plain yogurt (not vegan obviously) but that put the capper on my first completely vegetarian day. Thank you for the inspiration!!!!

Lisa in Seattle

kat said...

I made these bad boys tonight after finally tracking down some kelp granules at the health food store. I have to say they are FIERCE. Absolutely fierce. It's almost midnight here so I only sampled one, but I can't wait to eat my lunch tomorrow!!!

Anonymous said...

Just out of curiosity - why would anybody who rejects the idea of eating animals turn around and intentionally make a food product that attempts to mimic what an animal tastes like? Isn't that sort of like wearing a T-shirt condemning violence against women while engaging in rape-fantasy sex play?

Anonymous said...

A couple things: I don't feel that's a great analogy, and what is bad about flavor? Did an animal suffer to make your tofu taste fishy? Also, for those just getting into vegetarianism/veganism, foods that resemble meat make the transistion easier. And those who don't want to eat meat-tasting food won't. But I think there needs to be options.

Also, fantasy and real life are different things. It's kind of like thinking about swearing out a co-worker but actually just smiling at them.

Anonymous said...

My answer to why I would want a food that tastes like the meat/seafood "real thing" is this. I didn't become vegan because I didn't like the taste of meat and fish, I became vegan because I feel it's wrong to kill animals for food when it is unnecessary. We have so many other healthy, tasty options. Like this recipe.

Anonymous said...

well said. Most people aren't vegan because they hate the taste of meat, but the fact that it is meat or what was done to the animal to make it end up on your plate. Do some research & you would be surprised.

Anonymous said...

Is wax paper the same thing as parchment paper?

Anonymous said...


I made the tofu fish sticks for my husband and I last night, and they were delicious! We both enjoyed them greatly. And even better was the fact that they were simple to make. I did noticed that I had a lot of soy milk and batter left over when I was done dipping the sticks.


Anonymous said...

nope, wax paper and parchment paper are two different things. i don't think you want to put wax paper in the oven-- it might melt or do something funny. parchment paper is a great way to avoid having to grease the pan! the bottom of your cookies, or whatever you're baking won't stick to the parchment and will be golden brown.

LadyRachelLynn said...

I make these all the time now. I fry them, because my hubby loves it that way. I also skip the soymilk dipping step, with no problems.

My family also loves it when I just cut the tofu into four large slices and dip them into flour with all of the menetioned seasonings. We call them Tofu Fillets.

Just had to add that comment.

Anonymous said...

I adore this recipe. I've made it a dozen of time or more. I use almond meal from trader joes and keep some of the breading mixed up in the freezer so its super fast.

I also dip the tofu bites in cornstarch before the milk and breading. I find the breading stays on better.

Fantastic recipe!

JJ (Lady Di) said...

This might be too late to be seen, but do you think I can use dulse flakes instead? I really have a hard time finding the kelp (I can find it in sticks but nothing smaller locally), but no problem finding dulse.

Jennifershmoo said...

I think dulse flakes would work just the same, giving it a bit of a "fishy" taste. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I just made these as part of the vegan cook a long any my boyfriend want me to make sure to tell you that these were way better than the ones we had at my favorite restaurant in Portland. xoxo.

Michelle Gilbert, CCA, APAIA, R.SPE.P. said...

OK, that's it... I'm buying the book!! Jennifer, your recipes are fabulous. I've been testing and admiring them for months. When I get a carnie to eat these on Super Bowl day, you know your recipe's a success!!!!

Oh, and I used part dulse, part kelp. The dulse gives a nice depth. I had frozen tofu and it worked great.

Off topic for this post, but I make the pumpkin carob muffins weekly. It's IMPOSSIBLE to mess them up. They are fabulous. I've subbed so many things... banana, oatmeal "okara" (I make my own oat milk) in place of flax... even sweet potato instead of pumpkin! They rock.

Can't wait to get the book.

Chef Jeena said...

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Anonymous said...

After eagerly anticipating this recipe for months, I finally tried it last night, but the results are not what I expected. After baking them for 30 minutes, the breading was a bit powdery. So, I tried deep-frying them, which help with the texture, but I never did get the taste right. Admittedly, I used a few substitutions in the recipe, but nothing that should've altered it too much. The main problem was I substituted Nori flakes (seaweed) for Kelp powder, but there was absolutely NO fish flavor to be found in the end result. I haven't given up; I will double the seaweed and experiment some more until I get the desired results. Thanks!

Jennifershmoo said...

>>Admittedly, I used a few substitutions in the recipe

Please try the recipe as it is written before telling the world that it is a disappointment. I cannot be responsible for a failed recipe if you have not actually used the recipe I wrote, and besides, not everyone's tastes are the same. You don't detail all of your substitutions, but I imagine that they have changed the outcome somewhat.

I do know that nori flakes are not as strong-tasting as kelp flakes. I would recommend using kelp and even adding a bit extra if you really like that fishy flavor.

Anonymous said...

Kelly said...

This is wonderful..I have yet to try the recipe's but everything looks very tasty. I am a new vegan and also a SDA. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...


This recipe sounds great. I will try this over the memorial day weekend. I think I will deep fry mine though. I'm glad I came across this blog.

CarolinaDreamz said...

I am leaving a footprint to say I was here.

I am not Vegan. I do believe, though, that this recipe has reduced my "don't know what to do with Tofu" fear.

Up until now, I eat it in hot and sour soup! Thanks for some inspiration!


Anonymous said...

I probably won't ever become a full on vegan or vegetarian, but this recipe does sound delicious. I'm going to give it a shot. I currently consume dairy, eggs, and seafood. I can probably eliminate the first two easily, and am currently trying to limit the seafood down to just a few times a month. I'm sure this recipe will help!

Kim said...

Anonymous said...

Just out of curiosity - why would anybody who rejects the idea of eating animals turn around and intentionally make a food product that attempts to mimic what an animal tastes like? Isn't that sort of like wearing a T-shirt condemning violence against women while engaging in rape-fantasy sex play?

10:45 AM

That is an awful analogy.
People who don't eat animals don't always make that decision because they don't like the taste. Typically it's an environmental or animal rights thing, making substitutions isn't ridiculous.
There are also people who are very much against violence but happen to like a bit of S&M in the bedroom. ;)

This recipe sounds great, I'll have to try it. I am, however, quite concerned about finding kelp flakes in my tiny little redneck town.

Anonymous said...

I have been wanting to make these for over 2 months now. However I live in a small town in MS and had to wait until I went to Whole Foods in Birmingham to get the kelp granules. It was worth the wait. I only needed 1/2 the breading for a package of tofu. I used blue corn meal & substituted rice milk for soy milk since that was what I had. This was a hit with my family. We are not Vegan, but are gradually moving in that direction. Thanks for the recipe!

catnip13 said...

Anonymous said...
Just out of curiosity - why would anybody who rejects the idea of eating animals turn around and intentionally make a food product that attempts to mimic what an animal tastes like? Isn't that sort of like wearing a T-shirt condemning violence against women while engaging in rape-fantasy sex play?

10:45 AM

Well, maybe.

But I fail to see the supposed hypocrisy in either case.

Both are situations where everyone gets what they want, and no one gets hurt.

Anonymous said...

I just made the tofu fish sticks and didn't know when to add the dill!

Jennifershmoo said...

Sorry, I left it out of the instructions! It's been corrected.

Anonymous said...

do you think if you put the tofu in the freezer for a day, and took it out and defrosted it would it taste ok? i know it wil be like chewier....

Anonymous said...

It's right eating and good dieting! Thanks for the recipe!

M. said...

Today I made these for the second time (the first time was a long time ago). You can't get kelp granules here so I've just used dried seaweed and blended it as well as possible - probably not nearly as good, but they're tasty nonetheless.

I find the best when eaten with a mild to moderately hot and a bit sweet chili sauce such as Lingham's, normal sweet chili sauce would probably work well too, even though it's sweeter and not as hot.

I'm looking forward to getting your book for my birthday in April. :->

SheDevilBiker said...

Well, I sure am looking forward to tonight's dinner now.

I have been dying to make this recipe for ages and finally bought the final needed ingredient today. Or so I thought...

Turns out my kelp is the big wodges of it, so unless I roast it up and crumble it into granules, it's a no go. Happily I read the above comments before giving up in big baby tears, and saw a couple of readers have used dulse flakes, which I also have. They certainly seem fishy enough.

Thank you all for sharing your experiences of the recipe. Now I know it can still be done tonight.

Anonymous said...

We had these for Sunday lunch and they were delicious -- tofu fish and chips and peas! (The chips were really roast potato wedges, but close enough.) I couldn't find kelp granules over here so I used "wild wrack granules" instead and they worked fine.

Anonymous said...

I just bought a laptop lunchbox and eagerly await that vegan cookbook for kids. This looks great. You can buy almond meal at Trader Joes. You can use this instead of ANY flour. My son has major food allergies...and this stuff tastes great. Thanks for this receipe!

Anonymous said...

I'm new at all this, just became a vegetarian in late March. The only other tofu thing I tried, was a soy sauce one, and hating salty things, blech... ANYWAY! I tried these and I had to buy these 2 new spices (kelp and dillweed) and loved the way they smell and taste! I might even add a little more next time! I only had silken tofu, which is easier to break up, but froze it first and it helped with that. I'll have to get tougher tofu though. The most amazing thing I found(newbieness showing) is that of the 'fishsticks' that were leftover, the ones that overcooked and kind of dried out were the best! Just the opposite of most things you make. So those are all going to be reheated for future meals anyway, so they will end up properly dried up when I heat them next time :) Thanks for all your hard work and generous freebies :)

Brittanie said...

I have literally been waiting... years to make this recipe and I can't find kelp granules anywhere! Would blending up nori sheets work?

Anonymous said...

The nori is the mildest of the fish tasting stuff. The kelp is in the middle, and the dulce is the the strongest fishy taste. If you want to try the kelp, and maybe they have dulce too, look in the paragaraph before where she gives a link. Somehow, the page it actually goes to is the old site, but this is the page at the new site, and you can choose kelp or dulce or both from the drop down box:


Coffee Minute said...

I love theseee! We made some slight modifications though, and they turned out excellent! (in case you don't feel like a fishy taste, but instead, a curry taste)

1 lb. package firm tofu, drained (OK - basically, get a can of regular Roland tofu, and slice the pieces in half)
1/3 cup fine organic cornmeal (or white flour)
1/3 cup sliced almonds (blend these up!)
2 tsp. sweet paprika
2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. cumin
1.5 tsp. salt
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2/3 cup plain, unsweetened soymilk

When they're ready, dip them in mango chutney. YUM! Thanks so much for your recipe!

Anonymous said...

I want to make this recipe for my sister, who is questioning vegetarian-ism. She is allergic to all nut. Are the almonds needed or can they be substituted?

Anonymous said...


I've made these a couple of times, and I really like them. I am wondering, though, why I can't get them to be crunchy. I think I'm following the instructions, but somehow, the outside remains soft. Any advice? Thanks for the recipe!


Unknown said...

Annonymous at 6:00 AM with the sister:

Higher up in the comments, someone used sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Someone else used Scottish oats. So you could probably sub the almonds.

LucyDelRey said...

Jennifer, I know that I'm a bit late in commenting on these, but they were terrific!! I omitted the almonds due to allergies and used a 12 ounce block of extra firm tofu. I only used half the breading and saved the other half for the next batch. I really enjoyed them and thought they taste better at room temperature than right out of the oven (so it's a great lunch box item). They were so good and I had to stop myself from eating the whole batch.
Thanks again for the recipe which will be added to my rotation.

Nachos said...

I had a look at all the comments here before trying out the recipe and I just need to stress to anyone else who is doing the same thing that it's REALLY IMPORTANT that you follow Jennifer's instructions!

There's so many things that can go wrong if you try to alter this recipe. I was a total smart-arse and after reading the above comments, thought I could handle it. Anyway, I ended up cutting my tofu sticks just a little too thin and they went tough and chewy in the oven. :( :( :(

Again, I can't possibly stress how important it is to follow Jennifer's instructions! Do it properly and the recipe is an absolute gem & a keeper.

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Anonymous said...

I am WAAAAY late to the commenting party, but I just had to thank you for this recipe. We're vegetarians, not vegans, but my husband is allergic to fish and had never had a fish stick. Since finding this recipe, I've made it at least 30 times, and it's always fantastic! I use whatever nuts we have in the house and don't notice any difference. Also, when I first started making it, I couldn't find kelp granules, but I did have big squares (maybe 2 inches across?) of kelp. I just threw a bunch in the blender with the nuts and they got ground up just fine. I've since found the granules which are more convenient. One last suggestion: my husband loves these with cocktail sauce (ketchup and prepared horseradish), which he'd never had before! I bought a copy of the cookbook basically because I felt like it was a way to pay you back for all the enjoyment we've gotten out of this single recipe...all the other recipes in the book were just a bonus.

Apple said...

i totally want to try this recipe.

Anonymous said...

I don't have any garlic or onion powder, do you think I could just put half a teaspoon of garlic, and half a teaspoon of onion in a food processor and add that to the soymilk? Or is powder more or less flavorful than fresh?

Jennifershmoo said...

That will probably be fine, although the flavor will probably be different. I think the fresh onions and garlic will taste a bit stronger. Try it and see!

Anonymous said...

I made these tonight for fish tacos (I used the Veganomicon recipe for coleslaw) and they were delicious! Thank you! I also mase a "fancy sauce" of veganaise,lime juice and texas pete. I served it on corn tortillas. Thank you I have been craving this for soooooooooo long!

gizmosdaisy said...

I am a vegetarian, but my children are not. We all agreed that these were delicious!

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Unknown said...

I really enjoyed these! They're spectacular! I also have a recipe posted on my blog at genesis129project.com without any nuts for those who want a nut free tofu fishstick.

Unknown said...

I did like this recipe, but, this must be the kids version. I'm a garlic freak and couldn't taste the garlic, I also would like a little spicy kick to it. I found the tofu rolled around in the breading just fine without dipping in any other liquids, soy, almond milk, etc. the tofu is wet to begin with...so, if you don't want the extra step, you can skip it. I tried several different dipping sauces, one I made was lemon juice, honey, and crystalized (candied) ginger, thickened with a little arrowroot. I then mixed it with some sweet hot and spicy thai sauce and wow, that was yummy. I also like the cocktail sauce, idea. Thank you!!!