Nashville Hot Tofu is perfectly sandwiched between buttery bread with crisp quick pickles. Lightly dressed creamy coleslaw adds a little extra crunch, and a little something to take the edge off the heat.
Here’s What I Learned About Nashville Hot
As a Texan, I know a little something about being prideful about food being prepared a certain way. For example, chili should never have beans (oops, mine does). Or barbecue must be seasoned with only salt and pepper, and only smoked with post oak, and no sauce, or sauce is okay but only if it’s tomato-based and peppery, etc.
So when I decided to make a tofu version of Nashville Hot Chicken, I worried Nashvillians would be as finicky as my fellow Texans. And y’all, I was right to be worried. There are many rules about Nashville Hot Chicken. There’s even a Nashville Hot Chicken Coalition, which is what I decided to take as the law regarding Nashville Hot, because, well, they seem really intense.
My goal was to make it as authentic as possible, while also making sure it was as delicious as possible, and adjusting for the fact that there would be no chicken or lard. Because as I learned, Nashville Hot paste is basically lard and cayenne pepper. So I made some adjustments to the authentic spice mix, adding in some extras to bring some additional flavor since tofu can be kind of bland on its own. And I swapped out plain white bread and swapped in brioche because brioche bread is amazing. It’s basically a more indulgent version of plain white bread.
With my variations, I’m pretty sure I won’t get Hot Chicken Coalition Certified (yes that’s real), but I did get Picky Husband Certified, so that’s good enough for me.
Techniques for perfect Nashville Hot Tofu Sandwiches
- Find ghee. Lucky for us vegetarians, ghee is becoming more and more common in regular grocery stores. It’s basically clarified butter, and it has a high smoke point. It also has a buttery, yet somewhat neutral flavor that makes it a great substitute for animal fats like lard and bacon. (I use it in this Mushroom “Bacon”, Egg, & Cheese Brunch Pasta, for example).
- Heat to taste. I like spicy food and found that 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper were perfect for me after generously applying it to the tofu. But I definitely have had hotter Nashville Hot food, so if you are after something that will melt your mouth, up to a total of 6 tablespoons of cayenne pepper still tastes amazing and makes it extra hot
- Make these quick dill pickles. Store-bought pickles will work, but these pickles are extra briny and extra crunchy making them perfect for this dish. I was so happy that I took those extra few steps.
Southern & Modern Spicy Dishes
- 8 Brioche or white bread slices
- 1 14 ounce package extra firm tofu
- 1/4 cup ghee
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
- 1 teaspoon achiote powder
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 8 ounces shredded cabbage
- 2 tablespoons mayo
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon extra-fine sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- Pickles, for serving
- 2 cups flour
- 2 eggs
- Coarse salt
- Freshly ground pepper
Press the tofu: Slice your tofu through the block into 4 slices to fill the bread. Place the slices of tofu on a plate with a paper towel between each slice. Balance a salad plate on top to squeeze the liquid out of the tofu. Let it sit like that until time to fry.
Cook your spicy paste: In a small pot, bring to a simmer, 1/4 cup ghee, 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder, 1 teaspoon achiote powder, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and 1 and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt. Turn off burner and cover until ready to use.
Coleslaw: Stir together 8 ounces shredded cabbage, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon extra fine sugar, and 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley.
Toast your bread: Brush bread with melted butter. Place on a cookie sheet under the broiler to toast (about 30 second to 1 minute).
Get the oil ready: Heat one cup of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. The oil should not smoke, but should be hot enough that the tofu sizzles when you put it into the oil.
Setup 3 bowls for breading the tofu: 1st bowl: 1 cup flour seasoned with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. 2nd bowl: two eggs whisked together with 1 tablespoon hot sauce. 3rd bowl: 1 cup flour seasoned with 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 2 teaspoons cayenne powder.
Bread the tofu: Dip tofu into 1st flour bowl and shake off excess. Dip the tofu into the egg mixture, and gently shake off the excess. Dip the tofu in the 3rd bowl with flour, thoroughly covering both of the sides. Then place the tofu straight into the hot oil and cook until the breading is golden brown, turning once, about 3 minutes on each side. Once the breading is golden brown, remove from oil and place onto a paper towel lined plate.
To Serve: Brush tofu with spicy paste. Place coleslaw on one slice of toast, arrange tofu and pickles on top, top with another slice of toast.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 823Total Fat: 55gSaturated Fat: 27gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 344mgSodium: 1834mgCarbohydrates: 122gFiber: 7gSugar: 18gProtein: 34g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.