These all-vegan tofu franks aren’t fooling anyone, but who cares? They’re delicious! Made from tofu that’s soaked in a smoky marinade and then baked and grilled, for a frank that’s tender and juicy inside, while crisp and delicious on the outside.
You got me. I’m that person. The one who shows up at your 4th of July barbecue with the homemade tofu hot dogs.
It’s okay though. You really don’t need to invent an allergy to tofu or pretend to like them. You probably will actually like these. They’re pretty darn good. Hear me out.
I do not like veggie hot dogs. In fact, I didn’t even like regular old meat-based hot dogs when I was a kid. These franks are not an attempt at impersonating hot dogs. That would be a really tough thing to do, and probably not all that great an idea. I have yet to see a cookbook or blogger attempt a realistic version of vegan hot dogs, instead usually seeing things like carrots and eggplants stuffed into hot dog buns. That’s just fine by me, because carrots and eggplants are way better than any hot dog I ever ate. I opted to stuff tofu into hot dog buns. Savory, marinated, baked and grilled tofu, to be accurate. As I often do, I chose to play up the good features of meat foods I never really liked. Works every time.
Getting the tofu right was a little complicated. The marinade is key. All those smoky, savory flavors, those are the aspects of hot dogs that I wanted in my tofu franks. Baking is my favorite way to prepare marinated tofu, because it cooks all of those delicious flavors in, but I wasn’t happy with the outer texture when I finished baking these, which is why I went and grilled them up in a bit of oil. This gave the dogs a nice crisp outer shell, which is exactly what I wanted. I made these a couple times, and on one attempt I left my skillet unattended and burned them a bit…and it was awesome. If you like burned food, then burn these on the stove. If you’re grilling, then burn them on the grill, as that would probably be even better. Just brush the outer surfaces of your franks with a bit of oil and you should get that outer crust I was so fond of in my stove top version.
The recipe yields three to six links. If you want big fat franks that barely fit in the bun, go for three, cutting the brick of tofu lengthwise into three identical strips. For smaller franks, cut into four strips, and for little baby franks, go for up to six, keeping in mind that the outer surface is the best part, and the greater your number of franks, the higher your outer surface to inside ratio. My favorite way to eat these was actually do go with six franks and double them up in the buns. Finally, if want round-ish franks, go and shave down the edges of your tofu strips. Totally not necessary, but fun. Throw your tofu shavings into the marinade with everything else and then eat them on a salad, in a sandwich, or by the handful. They’re delicious.
- 1 lb. extra firm tofu, drained and pressed at least 30 minutes (the longer, the better)
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. maple syrup
- 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp. liquid smoke
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tsp. paprika
- ½ tsp. onion powder
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 3-6 hot dog buns
- hot sauce
- Cut tofu lengthwise into desired number of links. Optionally, shave down the corners of each link using a sharp knife, to get a round shape.
- Stir soy sauce, maple syrup, vinegar, liquid smoke, garlic, paprika, onion powder and pepper together in a shallow dish.
- Place tofu links into marinade and gently toss to coat. Allow to marinate at least 1 hour at room temperature, or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator (again, the longer, the better), tossing periodically to recoat with marinade.
- Preheat oven to 400º. Arrange links on a parchment lined baking sheet. bake 40 minutes, turning about half way through cook time and basting with any excess marinade. Remove from oven.
- Coat a medium skillet with oil and place over medium heat. Once hot, arrange links in skillet in a single layer, working in batches if they don't all fit. Cook about 3 minutes per side if you cut your links square, or just roll them every three minutes or so if they're round, until nicely browned all over.
- Stuff links into buns and top with ketchup, mustard, hot sauce and/or sauerkraut.