Incredibly delicious vegan fish recipe made from marinated tofu and seaweed then pan fried with a tempura like crispy and light crust perfect for the ultimate tacos. So easy that you could make it every day if you really wanted to!
Divinely flaky center with a crispy light crust, no batter needed, this is the perfect recipe for making vegan fish tacos, or to serve alongside homemade fries as a delicious pure vegetarian alternative to the classic “fish and chips” or fish sticks.
Serve as an entree or appetizer wrapped in crispy Nori seaweed sheets and drizzled with your choice of savory sauces. From Tzatziki to chimichurri, avocado aioli to my favorite tropical mango basil sauce or a simple squeeze of zesty lemon juice; you simply can’t go wrong with this delicacy that checks all the boxes!
About the Tofu
The most important detail is that your tofu is Extra Firm in texture. If you have the option of choosing Silken + Extra Firm by all means go for it. I like using the Mori-Nu shelf stable cartons as those do not need to be pressed and offer the silkiest flaky fish like texture. It’s pretty incredible how well it works in this recipe.
It’s a simple combination of tamari, water, seaweed, rice vinegar, paprika, onion and garlic powders plus just a touch of liquid smoke for depth of flavor. A couple of hours of marinading is just fine, however this can be done overnight as well and even a couple of days in advance. Drain the tofu well and pat dry any extra moisture before dusting in the corn starch.
Ingredient Tips + FAQ
- Toasted Nori – Have plenty of these tasty seaweed sheets to go around. They add umami seafood flavor to the meal but can also be used as a tasty crispy vehicle for all the goodies much like a tortilla or taco shell. I like to line my serving platter in seaweed instead of parchment paper for both flavor and effect!
- Corn Starch – This is all you need to dust the fillets with for that light and airy tempura like texture. I suspect rice flour or tapioca could work if an alternative is needed.
- Does this really taste like fried fish? – YES it does! Between the texture and the flavor from seaweed you really have a seafood flavor profile much like a halibut or tilapia but not like salmon.
- Oil for Frying – Any basic olive oil or vegetable oil will work fine here. You’ll need just enough to nicely coat the bottom of the pan for a nice sizzle not for deep-frying. Do not use your good cold pressed extra virgin for this.
- Air Fryer Method – Although I am a a big fan of air frying tofu (especially this delicious Peanut Tofu), I must admit I did not love It for this recipe. This one needs that fatty sizzle in the skillet until golden crispy.
On Storage + Reheating
This is one of those meals that I suggest to only cook as much as you will eat at once straight out of the skillet. If you must reheat any leftovers do so under the broiler for about 3 minutes until the coating crisps up again. It will be good, just not as amazing as the first time around.
- Tzatziki Sauce
- This Chive Pesto
- Mango Avocado Sauce
- Italian Tomato Salsa
- Avocado Mango Salad
- Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans
- Green Apple Coleslaw
- Pickled Red Onions
- Pineapple Fried Rice.
- 2 x 15 oz blocks extra firm tofu (Mori-Nu extra firm)
- 1/4 cup corn starch for dusting + more as needed
- Oil for frying
- 1 pack toasted Nori seaweed for serving
- Lemons for serving
- If using Morinu extra firm silken tofu then you must not press it. Carefully remove from the box and slice it. Any regular extra firm tofu packed in water must be drained and pressed to remove as much of the water as possible.
- Cut each block of tofu in half horizontally through the center as to make a thin fillet. Cut each fillet into 3 pieces so you will end up with 6 pieces from each original block of tofu ( so a total of 12 pieces form 2 blocks). (Alternatively you can choose to cut them into once inch sticks, triangles or squares. I prefer to marinade the larger pieces then break them into smaller pieces before frying).
- Using a sharp knife lightly score the top of each piece of tofu to make 1/4 inch thick cuts.
Marinade the Tofu
- Combine all the marinade ingredients in a flat glass container and add the tofu pieces making sure they all get coated in the marinade. Refrigerate for a couple of hour or overnight. (Note worthy: Wakame seaweed has a way fishier flavor than Nori).
- Remove the tofu from the marinade and transfer to a paper towel lined plate to pat dry any excess moisture.
- Prepare a large plate lightly dusted with corn starch. Place the tofu pieces on top of the corn starch and sprinkle with a light dusting of cornstarch on top. Carefully toss to coat well on all sides without breaking the tofu too much unless you want to of course.
- Meanwhile preheat a large heavy bottom or enameled cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add a good drizzle of oil, enough to coat the bottom really well but not too much. (You want to pan sear not deep-fry).
- Add a small piece of the tofu to the pan and if it sizzles nicely you can add the rest of your coated pieces but without overcrowding the pan. Work in batches and cook a couple of minutes on each side until a golden tempera like crust is formed.
- Line a platter with a few of the toasted nori sheets and transfer your vegan “fish” pieces on top. (Seaweed is used in lieu of parchment paper for visual appeal and to boost that seafood flavor).
- Tear a couple of the nori sheets into small pieces and sprinkle over the top. At this point you can also add a few sea salt flakes and serve promptly with lemon wedges, our delicious Tzatziki sauce or garlicky zesty chimichurri.
- Make "fish tacos" with fresh tomato salsa and a few different sauces; or serve as “fish and chips” with sea salt vinegar chips or homemade fries.
- Toasted Nori - Have plenty of these tasty seaweed sheets to go around. They add umami seafood flavor to the meal but can also be used as a tasty crispy vehicle for all the goodies much like a tortilla or taco shell. I like to line my serving platter in seaweed instead of parchment paper for both flavor and effect! For an extra fishy flavor use Wakame seaweed in the marinade as it is way more pungent than the Nori sheets).
- Corn Starch - This is all you need to dust the fillets with for that light and airy tempura like texture. I suspect rice flour or tapioca could work if an alternative is needed.
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