Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Barbecued Tofu

Well, I got back in the kitchen to prepare today's lunch because I was in the mood to try a new recipe and eat something that I've never had before. After thinking about a few different things, I finally decided on some type of new tofu dish. So I dug out the vegan cookbooks and started searching for a recipe. I saw several that involved frying the tofu in a skillet. Now, I've eaten tofu several different ways, but I've never actually fried it up in a skillet. So before I got started, I went and read the helpful hints & tips on prepping your tofu, before you cook it, in Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Isa has lots of tips in there and she recommends pressing your tofu real good, for like an hour, before you cook it. This helps get all the excess water out and makes it easier for the tofu to soak up the flavors of whatever you cook it in. So, as soon as I got home yesterday, I took a package of tofu out of the fridge, opened it, wrapped it in a clean kitchen towel and then sat a bunch of weight on top of it and let it press for an hour. Then I was good to go.

I ended up deciding on a recipe for Barbecued Tofu from The Garden of Vegan by Tanya Barnard & Sarah Kramer. This was my first time EVER making my own barbecue sauce from scratch, and it came out really delicious if I do say so myself. But basically, all the recipe involved was making the sauce and then marinating the sliced tofu in it (the recipe said 5 minutes, but I let mine marinate for more like 20 minutes). Then into a hot skillet they went to fry until they were nice and brown. There are actually three pieces of barbecued tofu in the lunchbox but I think it's kind of hard to see them all in the picture because one of them is hiding behind another one.

I ate some of this last night, and while the barbecue flavor is really good, I am apparently not too keen on using tofu as a "meat replacement", as in a big piece of protein that you cut up and eat in the place of meat. I love tofu in Scrambled Tofu, and I even like it when you cube it up and steam it and use it in a stir-fry or Thai food or something like that. Sliced and fried though, even after pressing, it just doesn't have enough texture for me to really accept it as a replacement for something meaty. I tried freezing it once, for a different recipe, and I didn't think that helped it firm up enough either. I guess I just need to accept the fact that tofu is only going to get so firm, and that's it. I guess the only other thing I haven't tried is baking it. Maybe that would give me a texture that I liked better.

Anyway, I guess what I am saying is that this Barbecued Tofu tastes good, I just wish it had more texture to it. I think I would have enjoyed this more if I had just made it with some nice big slices of seitan, or heck, even grilled tempeh. Just something with a little more bite to it. Maybe I just need to try baking my tofu. Maybe this is just as good as tofu gets in a dish like this. I do love tofu, in other dishes where it is obvious to me that it's just TOFU and not pretending to be anything else. In a dish like this though, where you slice it up and fry it, I guess my mind just expects it to be a meat replacement and is expecting more in the texture department than tofu can deliver. But the barbecue sauce recipe is yummy and it does taste good on the tofu. Perhaps I should have just cubed or crumbled up the tofu and then cooked it in the sauce and put it on a bun. I think I might have liked that better. Maybe next time.

To go with the tofu, I've got a bunch of steamed broccoli there in the green container and then a few Rosemary Roasted Potatoes in the little yellow container. I always have to clench my teeth and make myself be good when I pack these two items now because I SO want to fill the BIG container up with potatoes and put the broccoli in the little container. But I made myself be good, once again.

And I have really gotten on a kick here lately with this homemade roll business. I've been making them almost every day. I mentioned it in a post the other day, but all I do to make them is use my favorite pizza crust recipe with the following modifications: I use 1 1/4 cup water instead of what the recipe says, I use 3 Tbsp. of sugar instead of the 1 Tbsp. that the recipe calls for, and I dump in TWO packages of yeast instead of one. I let the dough rise for about 30 minutes in a nice warm place (I usually use the microwave which I get all warm & steamy by boiling a coffee mug of water in it prior to sitting the dough in there), then I just pinch off little balls of dough (about the size of the ball in a pinball machine) and press 3 of them into each hole in a muffin tin which I've sprayed with canola oil. I usually spray the tops with some more canola oil and then cover them with plastic wrap and let them rise until they're nice and poofy. Then I bake them @ 400 degrees until they are nice and brown, usually 10-15 minutes. Sometimes I use the broiler to brown the tops a little more. Gosh, I just love homemade rolls. Always have. Always will.

So that's my lunch for Wednesday. The Barbecued Tofu is good, and if you like tofu fried like this then you will probably really like the recipe, but I think I might like to try this with one, or both, of the other members of the "holy trinity of meat replacement".

Thanks for stopping by. See everybody tomorrow!



Kristin Marie said...

Hi Kenny,
I have been visiting your blog for a few weeks now. I'm really enjoying it! Thank you for sharing!

I have only recently switched to a vegan lifestyle. My husband and I have always been in tune with vegetarian cooking, though. I bought my first vegtarian cookbook 13 years ago, so I'm very familiar with the techniques and ingredients. (It was "The New Laurel's Kitchen".)

For your BBQ tofu, maybe just try frying it in smaller pieces. It always seems like the edges and corners get pretty chewy that way. But then, you'd really be making a type of "Chopped BBQ", so that might be more like a sandwich filling.

My husband loves BBQ Tempeh Sandwiches, but the problem is that it takes forever to marinate the Tempeh to get it tasty enough. I might try the Tofu version out on him.

By the way, if you're ever over in Boone, NC, you can get a BBQ Tempeh Sandwich at a restaurant called "Our Daily Bread", which is where he fell in love with it.

Keep up the good work!
Kristin Marie

kennyboy said...

Thanks kristin marie!

I have heard rave reviews about a barbecue tempeh that they have on the salad bar, or in the deli, of a certain large chain health food store, but I've never tried it.

When you make barbecue tempeh, I assume you crumble it up and marinate it before cooking, and then eat it on a bun? Or do you marinate slices?

Thanks for the heads up on the marinating time. I'll remember that when I try it.

Isa said...

Hi Kenny!
Frying doesn't make for great texture. Try baking your tofu with whatever sauce using the baking method from the BBQ Pom tofu in vwav. I'm telling you, baking is where it's at!

Anna said...

I agree with the baking. I made baked bbq tofu and we all enjoyed it. I would say that you marinate and then scrape off the sauce before baking and then baste the tofu just in the last few minutes or else the sauce burns and doesn't taste all that great!

Connie said...

You can't go wrong with bbq tofu! Always a favorite! For another great fried tofu recipe, try the avocado stuffed tofu that Kittee posted on the PPK last week. Incredibly good and very different!