These tofu steaks are covered in a crispy seasoned panko mixture and served with rich and savory caramelized onion gravy.
I’m a planner. Usually, when I have plans to work on a recipe, I get all the ingredients a day or so in advance, so that in the next day I’m all ready to start cooking right away and snapping photos of my food in the perfect morning sunlight.
But it never really happens like that. In fact, some days I make three or four trips to the supermarket, because I always forget something. Fortunately, I have a store that’s a half a mile down the street, so not a huge deal. The employees know me, but they don’t know what I do for a living, because that can get a little weird when I try to explain it to people. (“I post recipes on the internet for a living” usually ends up leading to a long discussion!) But some days, on my third or fourth trip, I’ll get a cashier who’s all “You really like this place, huh?” I just tell them I like to cook a lot, which hey, is true!
So I intended to make some crispy tofu steaks with mushroom gravy, when I realized that I totally forgot to buy mushrooms. It was cold out and I just couldn’t muster the energy to run out to the store one more time for a measly pack of mushrooms, and inspiration hit: I could make caramelized onion gravy! Also, this was kind of fortunate, because I have kind of bombarded you guys with mushroom recipes this year, and I haven’t given caramelized onions nearly enough love.
The caramelized onion gravy was an excellent choice. I’m so glad I forgot the mushrooms. The tofu steaks are super crispy with a light seasoning, while the gravy packs a ton of flavor. A little bit of the gravy goes a long way—in fact, the small amount of gravy that this makes was enough for the tofu steaks + a side of mashed potatoes. (I highly recommend serving this with mashed potatoes, despite the fact that I photographed it with asparagus. Better yet, make both!)
My husband commented that this was the best steak dinner he’s ever had. I’m with him on that, but you might want to take his word over mine—I think I’ve had a total of three steak dinners ever, including cauliflower steaks.
Crispy Tofu Steaks with Caramelized Onion Gravy
For the Tofu Steaks
- 1 14 ounce package extra firm tofu*
- Olive oil for frying
For the Caramelized Onion Gravy
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, sliced thin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- Pinch raw sugar
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3/4 to 1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
For the Batter
- 1/2 cup unflavored soy or almond milk
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 large garlic clove, minced**
For the Panko Coating
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
To Make the Caramelized Onion Gravy
- While the tofu presses, place the olive oil, onion, thyme, and sugar into a medium skillet and place it over medium-low heat. Allow to cook, flipping occasionally, until the onions begin to brown and caramelize, about 30 minutes. Add the wine, raise the heat to medium, bring to a simmer, and allow to cook until most of the liquid has cooked off, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour to form a paste coating the onion.
- Stir in the broth and soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a simmer and allow to cook until it becomes nice and thick, about 5 minutes. It gets thick quickly, so add in some additional water if it becomes too thick. Taste test and add more soy sauce if you'd like.
Make the Crispy Tofu Steaks
- In a shallow dish, whisk together the batter ingredients. Allow the mixture to sit for about 10 minutes, until it thickens up.
- In a separate dish, stir together the ingredients for the panko coating.
- Cut the tofu in half width-wise, then cut each piece in half thickness wise, creating 4 slabs.
- Very generously coat the bottom of a large skillet with oil and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, place one of the tofu slabs into the batter, flipping to coat each side, then transfer it to the panko mixture and coat each side. Place it into the skillet, and repeat for the remaining tofu slabs. Cook each for about 4 minutes per side, until golden brown, very carefully flipping between sides so as not to remove the coating.
- Divide the tofu steaks onto plates and top with caramelized onion gravy. Serve.
This recipe only makes a small amount of gravy, but like I said above, you only need a little. If you're a serious gravy monster, make a double batch.
*Be sure to press the tofu for a minimum of 15 minutes, but with this recipe, the longer the better. I wrapped mine up in some towels and topped it with a couple of books early in the day, then let it sit for a couple of hours before cooking.
**Is it weird that I included a garlic clove in the batter? Maybe. I intended to include garlic powder in the panko coating, but that's another ingredient I forgot to buy. The fresh garlic version tasted great, but feel free to skip it and instead include 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder in the panko mix.