These scrumptious vegan “fish” sandwiches are made with marinated, battered and fried tofu fillets and served with creamy homemade tartar sauce. Super indulgent and oh so delicious!
I often tell people that I didn’t like meat when I was a kid. This is true, but most of the time I ate it when asked. One thing that I almost inevitably refused to eat though, was fish. Don’t most kids hate fish? I sure did!
Except for crispy fish stick or fillets. Which makes sense, because they’re fried and all. And who can hate fried food? Not this kiddo!
So I was pretty excited when I decided to create a recipe for vegan fish fillet sandwiches.
How to Veganize a Crispy Fish Fillet
Tofu is the answer. And this recipe is adapted from my crispy tofu “chicken” sandwiches. It just uses different seasonings!
I’ve seen lots of recipes for crispy vegan fish where nori gets wrapped around a block of tofu. This kind of sounds like a good idea, but at the same time I can’t quite bring myself to try it. It just looks funky and I feel like all the seaweed flavor would be on the outside of the tofu, and maybe too intense (I’m not a big nori fan!). Folks who have, what did you think? Let me know!
So I did things a little differently for my tofu “fish.” I marinated my tofu in a broth that includes miso for savory flavor, and dulse for oceany flavor. I’m much more on board with dulse for making things taste fishy, and I found it to worked well for making both vegan scallops and tuna salad.
“What is dulse?” you may be asking. It’s little red algae flakes. They add a savory but subtle flavor and as far as texture is concerned, I can’t even tell they’re there.
How to Make Vegan Fish Sandwiches
First, whip up some tartar sauce using vegan mayo, capers, pickle relish, a bit of red wine vinegar, and dill.
You’ll be using two blocks of tofu. That seems like a lot, but you’ll only be using about 2/3 of each block, so really 1 1/3 blocks for 4 sandwiches. Not too much! I’ll explain in a second why we do it this way.
Start by pressing your tofu to get some of the moisture out. Wrap it in paper towels, followed by a dish towel, and then place something heavy on top, like a cookbook or cutting board weighted down with a few cans of food.
While your tofu presses, whip up that marinade. You’ll need your miso and dulse, along with some lemon juice and garlic.
Cut your tofu into slabs. Cut a third off the end of each block, so you have a big square, and then cut each square in half, thickness-wise. Now your slabs are perfectly sized to fit on buns! You’ll have some leftover tofu. Stick it back in the fridge or freezer and use it for something else.
Soak your tofu slabs in the marinade for at least 30 minutes.
When your tofu is almost done soaking, mix up some flour and Old Bay Seasoning in one bowl. This is for dredging. In another bowl, mix up some non-dairy milk, flour, flaxseeds, lemon juice and salt. This is your batter.
Heat up some oil in a skillet. Grab a tofu slab, and dredge it in the flour mixture, then batter it, then flour it again.
Fry it up until golden and crispy.
Serve your tofu fish on buns with creamy tartar sauce, lettuce and tomato.
Tips for Making Perfect Vegan Fish Sandwiches
- Where can I find dulse? Try a natural foods store, or online.
- Can I just leave the dulse out? You can. The tofu won’t taste quite as much like a fish fillet, but it’ll still be delicious!
- Where can I find miso? Try the international foods section of your supermarket, or online.
- Be super careful when cooking with hot oil! Never leave food unattended while frying, turn down the heat if it starts to sputter, and keep a lid handy in case a fire occurs.
- Don’t pour your used oil down the drain. Instead, pour it into a sealable, disposable container, like a coffee can, and trash it. You can also reuse it.
- Reheat leftover tofu fillets by placing them under the broiler until they crisp back up.
Crispy Vegan Fish Fillet Sandwiches with Tartar Sauce
These scrumptious vegan "fish" sandwiches are made with marinated, battered and fried tofu fillets and served with creamy homemade tartar sauce. Super indulgent and oh so delicious!
- 2 (14 ounce or 400 gram) packages extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
For the Marinade
For the Tartar Sauce
- 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill
- 2 tablespoons pickle relish
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon capers
- Salt & pepper to taste
For the Batter
- 3/4 cup unflavored and unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Breading
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
- Canola oil, or high-heat oil of choice
- 4 sandwich buns, sliced open and optionally toasted
- Lettuce leaves
- Tomato slices
- Pickle slices
Grab one of your tofu blocks and cut about one third off of the end, so that the remaining portion is square. Cut the square in half, thickness-wise, so you have two square shaped slabs.
Repeat using the other block of tofu. You'll be using the square shaped slabs for the sandwiches. Save the remaining tofu for another use.
Whisk all of the ingredients for the marinade together in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup.
Place the tofu slabs into a shallow dish and pour the marinade over them. Allow the tofu to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, or longer in the refrigerator.
While the tofu marinates, stir the ingredients for the tartar sauce together in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate the sauce until ready to use.
When the tofu is almost finished marinating, whisk all of the batter ingredients together in a medium bowl.
Stir the breading ingredients together in a separate medium bowl.
Pour about a half inch of oil into a medium (preferably cast iron) skillet and place it over medium heat. Give the oil a few minutes to heat up.
When the oil begins to shimmer, grab one of your tofu slabs. Dredge it in the breading mixture.
Transfer the tofu slab to the batter mixture, and carefully dip both sides to coat.
Return the tofu to the breading mixture and coat all sides a second time.
Carefully place the tofu into the hot oil. Repeat for as many tofu slabs as you can fit into the skillet without crowding. You can cook the rest in a second batch.
Cook the tofu slabs for about 5 minutes on each side, until golden and crispy.
Transfer the cooked tofu slabs to a paper towel-lined plate.
To serve, place a tofu slab inside each bun. Top with tartar sauce, lettuce, tomato, and pickle slices. Serve.