About few months back, I was online and saw a picture for Vegan Fried Chicken. At first, I thought it was an oxymoron. How can one make fried chicken without chicken?? Then I saw the picture, and lo and behold, it looked exactly like fried chicken with it’s golden color, shaped like a chicken leg, and crispy texture. Vegan Fried Chicken, for all its intents and purposes, seems like a sanctimonious slap in the face to the ancestors. How dare we try to reinvent the wheel in the name of health and saving an innocent bird. I mean, it’s fried for crying out loud and it’s not like we’ll run out of chicken anytime soon right?
So I reposted the picture and decided that I was going to give it a shot. I got the recipe from Zaachary Bird’s Cruelty Free Chicken (CFC) drumsticks and got inspired. How did he get that meaty, stringy texture like chicken? And how did he shape it into a drumstick? After, reading the recipe over and over, I got inspired. I wanted to create my own version of vegan fried chicken and judge for myself. I also did some research on other recipes and versions. Byrd’s version, is more KFC style. I’m a Popeyes girl, so I tried to get as close to Popeyes as I could. I found young jackfruit from a local Asian grocery store. Be sure that it is packed in water and unsweetened. I didn’t have cajun spices so I created my own blend using paprika, cayenne, thyme, garlic powder, ground chilies, etc. To get that extra crispy crust, instead of buttermilk, I used a blend of soy creamer and aquafaba*. The process seemed tedious and messy at first, but the final product was so tasty and I was so amazed that it came out as good as it did. The texture reminded me of eating mushrooms or catfish. The chik’n was well seasoned and not too salty. Ok, enough of that, here’s my recipe below…
No Chicken Fried Chicken
2 cans of Unsweetened young Jackfruit drained
2 tsp of Nutritional yeast
1 1/2 cups of water
1/4 tsp black pepper
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
4 pieces of cauliflower*
1/2 cup of flour (or more if needed) 1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp paprika 1 tsp ground chilies
1/2 tsp garlic powder 1 tsp Adobo Seasoning
1/4 tsp poultry seasoning 1/2 tsp thyme
Oil for frying
3 tbsp unsweetened soy creamer Dashes of hot sauce
Drain the jackfruit and place the jackfruit in a bowl. Since the jackfruit is cut into triangles, cut off the hard tip and discard. Rinse the jackfruit well and drain. In a saucepan bring water to a boil and add the jackfruit, nutritional yeast, and onion powder. Stir for 10 minutes on med heat and bring to a boil again. Cover and let it simmer on low for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let the liquid soak into the jackfruit and cool. Once the jackfruit is cool, squeeze and drain the remaining liquid and place into a bowl with salt and pepper to taste. Shred the “meat” with a fork to reveal a stringy, meat like texture and set aside. Meanwhile, remove the stems from the cauliflower and cut into 4 pieces. Shape the stems into small ‘bones’ for the meat. Take the meat and mold it around the bone and wrap tightly using saran wrap. Freeze the pieces for 1 hour. Heat oil in a cast iron pan to 350 degrees. Create a wet/dry station by mixing the soy creamer, hot sauce, and aquafaba in a bowl and the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Working quickly, dip the meat pieces in the wet mix, followed by the dry mix, taking care that they don’t fall apart. Arrange each piece on a wire rack before frying. Fry the pieces in oil, turning once to a golden brown color on both sides for about 10 – 12 min each on both sides. Remove from oil and drain on the wire rack. Season with salt and pepper and the spice mixture. Enjoy with any side you choose!
*Cauliflower is optional. It can be messy to deal with when cutting so one can omit this and just shape each piece or flatten into a thigh or breast piece.
**Aquafaba is the liquid floating in a can of garbanzo beans. It is made up of proteins, starches, and soluble plant solids that can be used as an egg white substitute.