Yesterday, I accomplished a culinary feat. Checked off a personal goal. Realized a dream.
Since we went vegan, my partner and I have missed a lot of the junk food we used to crave. We strive to be healthy plant-based eaters, which sounds like it should be easy, but our propensity to munch on carb-heavy meals and fattening snacks (like french fries — my most serious weakness) sometimes gets in the way. We’re only human. We’re trying.
But one deep-fried snack we’ve missed in particular is mozzarella sticks: ooey, gooey, crispy, yummy. In college, there was an on-campus delicatessen open until 4 a.m. on weekends that served heaping, grease-stained paper bags full of mozzarella sticks. They were awesome. My friends and I would inevitably end up there after we went to the bar and would buy several bags, chow down on mozzarella sticks, then stumble back to our respective dorms and apartments to sleep off the alcohol and awful food.
My partner and I have had a lot of conversations about trying to make vegan mozzarella sticks at home. Years ago, my mom and I would have the same conversations about making non-vegan mozzarella sticks. My mom could never figured out how to bread the cheese so it wouldn’t fall apart in the deep fryer. My partner and I lack a deep fryer, which always seemed necessary to the project. And until Follow Your Heart released the VeganEgg earlier this year, attempts at breading for the purpose of frying didn’t really go our way.
Yesterday, everything changed.
In the last several weeks, I’ve been dreaming almost exclusively of onion rings. Unfortunately, those do not make an appearance in this post. Sorry. But my partner suggested that instead of making onion rings (using the argument that without some type of fryer, they wouldn’t get that big, airy crunch that’s so necessary), we could buy some FYH mozzarella and make mozzarella sticks instead.
So we did.
The process, overall, was pretty similar to making fried Kite Hill ravioli, at least in terms of ingredients and instructions. I did a quick Google search to get tips for frying cheese and specifically for breading and frying vegan cheese before I got started. The one thing I saw (on the PETA website) that seemed new, but logical, was to dredge the cheese in flour before “egg” washing and breading it.
Let me tell you: that trick worked so well. The PETA website also suggested freezing the breaded cheese sticks for a couple hours before frying them in hot oil, which seemed to help them maintain their integrity while cooking. I was really impressed with how the overall product turned out, but most of all, I was impressed with the crispy, crunchy breading!
My partner loves really crispy fried food and it’s something I generally struggle with in my home cooking, so I was pumped when AR told me that they were impressed with the breading, too.
I don’t think this is a recipe we’ll repeat often (there’s no health value here! at all! HA!) but it was definitely tasty, and I look forward to doing variations on it in the future. (As much as we both love FYH, we’d love to try this recipe with my homemade tofu ricotta. Like tiny, fried cheese curds. Delicious.)
To achieve a crispy, crunchy outer texture and an ooey, gooey, melted center, I first cut a block of FYH mozzarella into 32 small, mostly even rectangles, then dredged them in flour, then a VeganEgg wash, then the bread crumb mixture before freezing for two hours. I fried them for 3-4 minutes each in about 1-2 inches of vegetable oil and let them rest for a few minutes before eating.
These vegan mozzarella stix are dreamy.
I don’t go to bars much anymore — college was enough for me, honestly — but these bring back that same semi-shameful, middle of the night feeling of mmmmm, food that I remember so well.
Now for the recipe!
Vegan Mozzarella Stix
Prep Time: 2.5 hours | Cook time: 3-4 minutes | Total time: ~3 hours
Makes 32 mozzarella stix, serves … many
What you’ll need:
- 1 block FYH mozzarella
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 tsp. corn starch
- 1 VeganEgg (made with an extra 1/4 cup of cold water)
- 1 cup vegan panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tsp. paprika
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp. dried basil
- 1 tbsp. dried oregano
- 2 cups of vegetable oil (for frying)
- marinara (for dipping) *optional
What you’ll do:
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or wax paper — something nonstick. This will serve as the resting place for your mozzarella sticks and will keep them from getting stuck together while they chill.
- Cut the block of mozzarella into several small, even pieces. (I managed 32, as mentioned earlier.) Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and corn starch. Set aside. In a larger bowl, combine the rest of the dry ingredients. Set aside. Finally, make VeganEgg wash by following the instructions on the packaging — but include an additional 1/4 cup of cold water to dilute the texture and intensity of egg flavor.
- Using a clean hand, dredge each piece of mozzarella in flour/corn starch mixture, tap off excess, then drag through VeganEgg wash until coated on all sides. Using your other hand, remove mozzarella from wash and drop into breading mixture. Using the same clean hand with which you put the mozzarella in the flour, scoop breading onto the mozzarella stick until coated. Set on baking sheet to rest.
- Repeat step 3 until all mozzarella pieces have been floured, egged, and breaded. Rest them about 1/2″ apart on the baking sheet so they do not stick together. Put the baking sheet in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
- After 2 hours, remove baking sheet from the freezer. Line another baking sheet with paper towels or cheese cloth.
- Heat vegetable oil in a sauce pan or deep skillet on the stove until oil reaches 350°F. Using tongs, transfer 5-6 mozzarella sticks to the oil, let cook for 3-4 minutes (or until golden brown, with cheese clearly melted), then transfer to second baking sheet to rest.
- Repeat step 6 until all mozzarella sticks have been cooked and the excess oil has drained off, onto the paper towels or cheese cloth.
- Serve immediately with marinara sauce and enjoy!