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Vegan Fish and Chips, Tofish (Battered Tofu)

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British cuisine, often mocked universally, might surprise you. There are countless humble regional recipes that pack a punch in flavor — but we’ve also learnt how to perfect simple plates, like fish and chips. For over a century, the British have devoured fish and chips. Even when rationing affected other foods during the World Wars, the British government exempted the dish, showcasing our unwavering love for this iconic dish. Now, it’s high time I shared my vegan tofish and chips! 

I grew up in a seaside town. We lived just a few minutes from the coastline, and there was a chippie (slang for fish and chip shop) less than a minute’s walk from our front door. Since I was raised a vegetarian from birth, I always just got chips — wrapped up in old newspaper is how they used to come — along with a portion of gribbles/scribblings (That’s the regional Devon dialect), crispy fried batter bits. Although a fair amount of vegan fish and chip shops have opened across the U.K., there’s still none back home. Oh well! Now I’m an adult, I can just make some myself. 

And let me tell you, these vegan fish and chips — or tofish and chips — are something special. I’ve made vegetarian fish and chips with battered halloumi before, but this might be even better. And obviously, since it’s made with tofu, it’s suitable for vegans. 

Everyone knows I make the best chips. Fluffy-on-the-inside, crispy, and golden brown. But today, it’s alllllll about the tofish, or battered tofu “fish.” We’re going to marinate those tofu slices in a salty, fishy, umami-packed paste. Once it’s infused with all that intense flavor, we’re going to coat it in an alcohol-free light, airy, and crispy fish batter that rivals even the best chippies. 

Close up photo of vegan tofish and chips.

What is Vegan Fish and Chips Made Of?

Thankfully, more and more vegan options are popping up around the world. The increased visibility of plant-based diets has led to several variations of vegan fish and chips. Among the most prevalent are battered banana blossoms and chips, vegan jackfruit “fish,” enoki mushroom battered “fish,” and, of course, this recipe — tofish (vegan tofu fish and chips)!

For full quantities, please see the complete recipe further down the page.

Ingredients for Vegan Tofish (Vegan Fish Made From Tofu)

  • Extra firm tofu is our vegan fish! I always like to use my homemade tofu, but storebought works well too. Press it before using it! 
  • Sushi nori provides that distinctive “from the sea” taste to our vegan fish. I grind the nori sheets in a food processor to make an ultra-intense powder. 
  • Rice vinegar adds a touch of acidity to the tofu, brightening the flavor.
  • Vegan fish sauce is a specialist ingredient, but it’s worth having some in the house for Asian recipes like pad thai or tom yum soup. For this tofish and chips, it lends a delightful savory, briney, fermented, and umami-loaded flavor. 
  • White miso boosts the umami of our tofu. Although umami is naturally present in meat, fish (and some vegetables), most plant-based substitutes lack it, so building up that savory profile is vital. 
  • Salt is an essential seasoning, and this recipe is no different! I love using sea salt. 

What is Sushi Nori?

Sushi nori is a dried edible seaweed commonly used in Japanese cuisine, especially for sushi.

Ingredients for Chip Shop Style Crispy Fish Batter

  • Plain flour, otherwise known as all-purpose flour, is the basis of our batter recipe. 
  • Cornflour makes the batter lighter and adds more crunch. It’s the secret to a great chip shop-style fish batter, so don’t skip it. 
  • Baking powder adds rise to the batter, making little air bubbles that result in an airy crust rather than a dense batter. 
  • Sparkling water is the key! Don’t even think of replacing this with still water. The carbonation in the sparkling water makes this batter unbelievably crisp and golden — avoiding the curse of soggy fish batter! 
  • Salt is a must. Don’t forget to season your food at all stages, but have a light hand. 
Tofish with nori sheets, lemon, and chips.

Are Fish and Chip Shop Chips Vegetarian?

Although you might assume that chips (fries) from a chippie are vegetarian/vegan, sadly they’re often not. Many chip shops across the U.K. still use beef dripping (animal fat) to cook the chips, making them unsuitable for vegetarians and vegans. Plus, although some joints use vegetable oil, not everyone uses a separate fryer for the chips. If this is a deal-breaker for you, it’s always best to inquire in advance. 

Or … better yet, make your own! When you commit to cooking homemade vegan fish and chips, you can be 100% sure that everything in your kitchen is catered to your own specific diets and allergies. 

This tofish recipe is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans, in addition to being nut-free and alcohol-free. 

Vegan fish and chips with battered tofu, chips, and salad.

How to Make Vegan Fish and Chips

Making a vegan alternative to fish and chips is surprisingly straightforward. Initially, the process might feel overwhelming, but it’s crucial to break down the methodology into easily manageable steps.

For a more in-depth breakdown and ingredient quantities, be sure to scroll down to the recipe card!

  1. Marinate the tofu in a mixture of nori powder, rice vinegar, vegan fish sauce, white miso paste, and salt to taste for a minimum of 30 minutes (or up to overnight). 
  2. Heat the oil to deep fry your tofish. The oil is ready at 180 C (356 F).
  3. Mix the batter by combining plain flour, cornflour, baking powder, ice-cold sparkling water, and salt to season. 
  4. Coat the tofu in plain flour (so the batter can stick), then dip into the batter. Carefully lower a tofu filet into the hot oil and fry until golden brown. 
  5. Season with plenty of salt and vinegar! 

Tips to Make the Best Tofish and Chips

  • Marinate that tofu! All the flavor comes from that marinade bursting with savory umami flavors. Please don’t skip or shorten the marinade!
  • Use cold ingredients for the batter — this is essential! Room temperature components bind together better and help develop gluten, which can result in tough, dense batter. Ideally, you should keep all the ingredients in the fridge before using them, even the flour. 
  • Don’t overmix the batter. Some lumps are O.K. — overmixing develops gluten, which we already know is an issue. 
  • Use the batter straight away. Again, you don’t want the batter to warm up. Plus, the reaction between the rising agents (baking powder and sparkling water) only lasts a short time, so you need to work quickly. 
  • Don’t overcrowd the pan while you’re frying up your vegan tofish. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to cook one or two at a time, not all of them at once. 
  • Serve it hot! This is one recipe that’s best eaten fresh. Leftovers just don’t have the same oomph.
Chips with battered tofu, mushy peas, and lemon.

What to Serve with Vegan Fish and Chips?

  • Mushy peas are my go-to pairing for this tofish recipe (or any vegan fish and chip recipe, honestly!). While the dish can be incredibly polarizing, I highly recommend you try it. You can buy cheap tinned mushy peas or make your own using marrowfat peas, as instructed in my vegetarian fish and chip recipe. They’re thick, creamy, buttery, and subtly flavored with hints of lemony goodness.  
  • Chip shop curry sauce is beloved in Wales and North-East England. This chip shop-style curry sauce isn’t like an authentic Indian curry — it’s thick, fruity, and perfect to pour over your chips.
  • Vegan tartare sauce might be the most classic vote, and it tastes incredible with this homemade tofish and chips. The sharp and tangy flavors play well with the crisp batter and rice vinegar I use in the tofish marinade. You can make yours vegan using vegan mayonnaise mixed with capers, gherkins, and fresh herbs. 
  • Fresh salad is the simplest option, but it deserves a place on this list. A fresh and crisp selection of mixed greens with lemon wedges complements this fish and chip no beer recipe so well. 

This Tofish Recipe Is …

  • Vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore friendly!
  • Full of flavor
  • Light, crispy, and golden
  • Not at all greasy
  • Easy to replicate at home
Vegan Fish and Chips, Tofish (Battered Tofu)

Vegan Fish and Chips, Tofish (Battered Tofu)

Yield: 2 Pieces of Battered Fish
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

This tofish recipe might just be the best vegan fish and chips you'll eat. The tofu is moist and flaky, coated in a crispy and golden batter.

Ingredients

  • ~200g Extra Firm Tofu
  • 1l Neutral Cooking Oil, to deep fry
  • Apple Cider Vinegar or Malt Vinegar, to serve
  • Sea Salt, to serve

For the Marinade

  • 1/2 Sheet Sushi Nori, ground into a powder
  • 1/2 tsp Rice Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Vegan Fish Sauce
  • 1 tsp White Miso
  • Sea Salt, to taste

For the Batter

  • 10g Plain Flour for Dusting the Tofu
  • 1/2 Sheet Sushi Nori, whole
  • 45g Plain Flour
  • 2 tsp Cornflour (Cornstarch in U.S.)
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 90ml Sparkling Water
  • Sea Salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Cut the tofu into fish fillets. You can trim the shape of the tofu to resemble a fish better or keep it rectangular.
  2. Marinate the tofu. In a deep container, mix nori powder, rice vinegar, vegan fish sauce, white miso paste, and salt. Once well mixed, add the tofish fillets and marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes (or up to overnight).
  3. Heat the oil to deep fry your tofish. The oil is ready at 180 C (356 F)*. Wait for the oil to come to a temperature before continuing with the next steps.
  4. Mix the batter. In a flat bowl, whisk together plain flour, cornflour, baking powder, ice-cold sparkling water, and salt.
  5. Coat the tofu in plain flour (so the batter can stick), layer a strip of sushi nori (cut to the same size as the tofu) on top, then dip into the batter. Carefully lower your tofish into the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Don't overcrowd your pan. Drain on kitchen towels.
  6. Season with plenty of salt and vinegar, then serve with a sauce of your choice (recommendations above!)

Notes

* Tip! Use a cooking thermometer to accurately check the temperature of your oil.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 704Total Fat: 7.6gSaturated Fat: 1.5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1604mgCarbohydrates: 65gFiber: 6gSugar: 4.7gProtein: 18.7g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

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