Fried tofu pockets for stuffing are a vegan and gluten-free alternative to chicken breast or pork chops in all your stuffed protein recipes!
This recipe is inspired by abura-age or inari-age, which is a Japanese deep fried tofu pocket. Sort of like a pita pocket, but made by deep frying thin slices of tofu until they puff up. There is a thicker version called atsu-age, which is kind of what we are doing here, but then carving out the inside.
And once you fry them, then simmer them in your favorite sauce later, they soak up so much more flavor than plain tofu does!
What type of tofu do I use?
Instead of using thin slices, we are frying entire halves of the tofu block and carving out the middle. I wanted a bit more “meat” to them for subbing chicken and pork in some of my favorite stuffed (whatever) recipes. They also work great instead of seitan for my gluten-free family and friends.
For my tofu pockets, I like to use the high-protein, super firm vacuum packed tofu. I like them because I don’t have to press them – just drain, rinse, and pat dry.
If you don’t have access to that type, you can use extra firm tofu and press it for a couple of hours before starting with the recipe. To press it, wrap it in a clean kitchen towel and skillfully balance a skillet and some books or cans on top. After a couple of hours, most of the moisture will have been expelled from the tofu and it’ll be ready to pat dry and get started.
What type of oil do I use?
Use whatever oil you like for frying. I use cheap vegetable oil because it’s easy to find and easy on the pocketbook. You can also use soy oil, peanut oil, or shortening. Just make sure that it’s clean, not rancid (it’ll smell horrible if it is), and safe for you and anyone else you’re cooking for.
What tools do I need to make this recipe?
The tools here are pretty minimal:
- a stovetop
- medium saucepan
- heat-proof tongs or a slotted heat-proof spoon or spider
- a sharp knife for cutting the tofu
- paper towels or clean cardboard or newspaper for draining the tofu
- a plate to go under the draining tofu
- a wooden skewer, chopstick, or spoon for testing the oil
What can I stuff the fried tofu pockets with?
You can also stuff them with meatballs, your favorite cheese, your favorite Thanksgiving stuffing, mushroom pâté, squash, some Just Egg mixed with vegan sausage for a breakfast addition, or whatever else your heart desires!
Can I make this soy-free?
I haven’t tried it myself with any other variety of “faux-fu”. There are a few on the market though, including a chickpea based one and Pumpfu, which is made with pumpkin seeds. If you try one, please let me know how it turns out!
Can I make these fried tofu pouches in an air fryer?
The texture doesn’t come out nearly the same, but I won’t stop you from trying! I don’t have a clue on how long or how hot to do them to get the same-ish result. If you give it a try and get a great success, please let us know!
How do I store it?
Once you fry the tofu and carve it out, it’ll keep for about 2-3 days in the fridge. Just make sure that you have it in an air-tight container. It should keep for a few months in the freezer as well, granted it’s in a good container. Just let it thaw without opening the container.
- 1 block tofu, high-protein super firm
- 2 cups (500ml) oil for frying
- Place the oil in a medium sized saucepan and put it over medium heat.
- Drain the tofu, rinse it in cold water, and pat it dry
- Slice the tofu in half. I do this diagonally, but you can do whatever you like best.
- Use a wooden skewer, spoon, or chopstick to test the oil. Slowly lower it in, and if you see bubbles form around it, the oil is ready.
- Using a spider, tongs, or slotted spoon, carefully lower each slice of tofu into the hot oil. Make sure to wiggle the tofu pieces around so that they don't stick to the bottom.
- Once the tofu begins to turn golden brown in the part that's submerged in the oil, carefully flip it. This takes around 15 minutes for me.
- Once the submerged part of tofu begins to turn golden brown, flip it again so that a new side is facing down. This time usually goes much quicker for me - around 7-8 minutes.
- Repeat this process until all sides of the tofu are nice and golden except the "front" which we are going to carve out.
- Turn off the heat and VERY carefully remove the tofu pieces with a slotted spoon or spider and place onto a plate lined with paper towels, or clean cardboard or newspaper to drain.
- Once the tofu has cooled enough to safely handle (around 20 minutes for me), carefully use a paring knife and carve out the inside of the tofu from about 1/2 inch (1.25cm) from the outer edge.
- Reserve the removed tofu for another recipe.
- You can use the tofu pockets right away, or store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
Please see the blog post for information regarding substitutions.
If you want a lower fat content in your final recipe, feel free to rinse the tofu in hot water or give it a flash boil and pat dry before filling.