Tupelo Honey Cafe is one of Asheville’s more well-known restaurants, but until this summer, we haven’t had a chance to go there. But when we saw they had Buffalo tofu wings, we knew we had to stop there for lunch. The wings were completely worth it—they weren’t really wings, just tofu cut into sticks and most likely deep-fried. As soon as we finished eating, I starting dissecting the dish in my head, figuring out how I could make it at home.
1) I froze the tofu. Freezing tofu changes its texture and makes it chewier.
2) I coated the tofu in cornstarch and pan-fried it in a little oil. Cornstarch is a great trick for making foods crisp without deep-frying. It works on sweet potato fries too!
3) The problem with the crispy cornstarch tofu is that once the tofu wings are tossed in the Buffalo sauce, the exterior gets soggy. The solution to this is to bake the wings until they crisp up again.
Buffalo sauce is typically made with a lot of butter. The butter helps cut the heat of the sauce a little bit. The thought of butter on tofu made me feel slightly queasy; I’ve read recipes using broth instead, but I opted to use melted coconut oil. Don’t worry—the wings don’t taste like coconut oil, but it makes these wings completely vegan.
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The wings as I made them are spicy without being too spicy—I favor pleasantly spicy rather than painfully. You can toss the wings in additional sauce after they’ve baked or serve them with more sauce on the side if you prefer spicier wings. I whipped up a cashew-based ranch dressing to serve with the wings, but bottled works too if you want to save some time.
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