Replica Recipe: Trader Joe’s Tofu Edamame Nuggets (Gluten-Free)

A while back, a friend of mine posted on Facebook, lamenting the discontinuation of a food they were very fond of – Trader Joe’s Tofu Edamame Nuggets. One of my “big autistic superpowers” is being able to accurately replicate commercially produced food products (See: a big chunk of the recipes in “More Than Poutine!), so I wanted to help.

Problem 1: I’d never tried the source material.

Problem 2: The source material was no longer available… and my friend lived very far away!

I DO love a challenge though, so I offered to give it a go anyway. My husband is borderline vegetarian himself, and is always up for fun new treats.

First level research was easy: Finding the ingredient listing, nutritional data, and product images online – both commercially photographed, and photos from customers who bought them.

This gave me a good idea of what I’d need for my recipe – minus a few unnecessary commercial ingredients.

The next step was to fill in the missing pieces, the information that’s not as easily obtained through an ingredient list.

This is where thorough questioning came in. Lucky for me (and them, and all of you!), my friend is as good at answering questions as I am at asking them. Within a few minutes, I had a long list of very detailed information about the textures, mouth feel, ingredient sizing and proportions, and much more.

My lovely friend is also autistic, which was absolutely a blessing – NO ONE notice, catalogs, and clearly and efficiently relay fine details about things like an autistic!

Between the nutritional data and my friend’s detailed notes, I was able to put together a fantastic recipe. Aside from the “leave out unnecessary commercial ingredients” adjustment, I also developed this recipe to be gluten-free, as my friend has wheat issues.

I’m basically an obligate carnivore, and I’ve got to say – these are really tasty. REALLY tasty!

I’ve done up the directions so that you can cook and eat these fresh, OR be more true to the source material and par-cook them before freezing, so they’re available as a “throw it in the oven” convenience food, later on.

If you were a fan of the source material, be sure to try these and let me know what you think!

Replica Recipe: Trader Joe’s Vegetable Nuggets

Makes about 28 nuggets

Filling:

1 Brick medium-soft tofu, about 1 lb
½ White onion
1 Egg
1 Tbsp Soy sauce
1 ½ tsp Nutritional yeast, optional
3/4 cup Soy flour
1/4 cup Corn starch
1 tsp Garlic powder
½ tsp Pepper
3/4 tsp Salt
2/3 cup Shelled edamame
1/3 cup Shredded carrot (Large shred, not fine)

Drain tofu, wrap in 3 layers of paper towels, and place in a strainer. Add something a little heavy – we used a peanut butter jar – on top, to press. The tofu will mush a bit, that’s OK. Allow to stand for ten minutes. Discard paper towels, chop up pressed tofu and transfer to a food processor.

Grate onion. With clean hands, squeeze out as much water as you can. Measure 2 Tbsp squeezed onion into a food processor, along with egg, soy sauce, and nutritional yeast, if using. Blitz until smooth and well combined.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine soy flour, corn starch, garlic powder, pepper, and salt. Add tofu mixture, stir until smooth and well combined. Add edamame and carrot, stir until vegetables are well distributed.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using two tablespoons, scoop mounds of filling onto the prepared baking sheets – you’ll want rounded Tablespoons, close to about 2 Tbsp in volume. Use a wet finger to smooth mound into a “nugget” about 1.5″ x 2.5″, and about ½” thick. Once all nuggets are formed, transfer pans to freezer and allow to chill until firm.

Once your patties are prepared, heat vegetable oil to 375 F. You can use a deep fryer, or a heavy pan. If not using a deep fryer, use a deep, heavy pot, filled to at least 3″ deep. As oil is heating, prepare your batter:

Batter:

½ cup Masa flour
½ cup White rice flour
1/4 cup Corn starch
½ tsp Baking powder
1/4 tsp Paprika (for colour)
1 Large egg
1 tsp Soy sauce (does this need salt?)
1 1/4 cup Cold water

Whisk together dry ingredients. Add egg and soy sauce, whisk until well combined. Add a small amount of water, stirring to combine. Continue adding cold water, stirring gently until just combined – mixture can be a bit lumpy.

For best results, set bowl of batter in another, larger bowl that is filled with ice. The colder the batter, the better the coating!

Gently dip chilled patties in the batter one at a time, slowly removing from the batter and allowing excess to drip off. Carefully transfer to heated oil. Fry a few at a time – turning every couple of minutes.

To eat immediately:
Fry until golden, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer fried pieces to platter lined with paper towels. Salt lightly – if you’d like – and serve hot!

To freeze and heat/eat later:
Fry only until batter is no longer wet and is only lightly golden, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from oil, transfer to paper towels, and blot well. Cool to room temperature. Arrange on baking sheet lined with parchment paper, freeze. Once frozen, transfer to airtight freezer container until use.

To bake frozen nuggets:
Preheat oven to 350F. Place frozen nuggets on a baking sheet, bake for 10 minutes. Flip each nugget, bake for 10 more minutes. Serve hot!

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