Nuggies have been one of my favourite late-night, drunken snacks at the Townehouse every since I moved back to Sudbury.
When I stopped eating meat, it meant they were off my menu, but I still crave them something bad. There’s nothing like greasy fried food with an array of dipping sauces—fortunately, I have found other vehicles for said sauces (fries, onion rings, my fingers etc.)
Gardein tenders hit the spot, but they’re pretty pricey for eating at home on the regular, so I decided to try coming up with a homemade copycat version. Unfortunately, I don’t have an extruder so I’ve had to resort to more rustic technologies.
As I thought about it, I remembered that Miyoko Schinner has a recipe for “Gold Nuggets” in the Homemade Vegan Pantry that use a combination of vital wheat gluten, tofu, and okara. I figured I’d use it as a starting point.
The results? When cooked properly, our household gave them an 8/10.
They’re only a 7/10 unless you cut them into rabbit shapes. Just kidding. Although it did make them a heck of a lot cuter, and if you have kids, this trick would probably convince them to eat anything in nugget form.
I’ll go into the process of making Miyoko’s “Gold Nuggets” here, but I won’t include the recipe because you should buy the book. The recipe is visible on the Google Books preview if you can’t afford it right now, but if you can, you should. The Homemade Vegan Pantry is stellar, whether you’re vegan or not.
The recipe for “Gold Nuggets” starts by using the leftover soybean pulp from making soy milk and blending it with vital wheat gluten, medium firm tofu, spices, and nutritional yeast.
I kneaded the dough for a while after mixing all the ingredients, it was much wetter than the UnRibs, which was a bit alarming but wound up working out. Then, I rolled it out until it was maybe half an inch thick and cut out cute shapes with my cookie cutter because, well, because I could and why not? Everyone knows those dino nuggies taste better than regular ones.
Next, you dredge the nuggets in flour, flax egg, then panko bread crumbs and either fry them or bake them. We fried them because we don’t hate ourselves. If I try baking them, I will update this post with a note though.
The recipe yield was huge. I cannot emphasize this enough. It will make enough for at least eight servings. I wound up frying half and sticking half in the freezer breaded but uncooked. I noticed after Miyoko says to freeze them after cooking, but I’m curious to try cooking them straight from the freezer. Maybe I’ll even try baking them. Maybe.
Also, note my super neat set up? I’m not exactly the most efficient cook when it comes to making space for myself.
I found that frying them was trickier than I thought it would be. I used about a centimeter or half an inch of peanut oil for a reference point.
Miyoko says to cook them for around three minutes per side, but I would say you’re looking at at least five to six minutes per side before they’re completely cooked through. The ones that were under-cooked looked great, but had the taste and texture of raw pizza dough.
The book also says to cover them while frying but this created steam, and combining a dripping wet pan lid with hot oil is not something I would recommend. With all this in mind, I’d say be sure your pan is hot but keep the heat at medium or even medium low as they cook so they don’t darken before they’re cooked inside.
I would definitely make these again, maybe messing around with the ratios a touch to get an even “chickenier” or “Gardeinier” texture. I might even add a speck of MSG to boost the flavour.
All said and done, these aren’t an easy, last minute solution, but they hit the spot! Never going to give up nuggies, in some form or another.