Tuesday, August 28, 2007

BBTuesday - Barbecued Tofu

Congratulations to those of you who weren't scared off by the title of this post. Your reward for sticking around is a surprisingly tasty recipe.

Way back in the 1980s, when your blogger still had a full head of hair and before we had our three kids (maybe one has something to do with the other), the Remarkable Marcy and I had lots of time to experiment with a wide range of recipes. During one particular stretch of clean living, we were both hard-core vegetarians and tofu was a staple of our diet.

Tofu, by itself, looks and tastes a lot like a sponge. That's because it is sort of like a sponge in that it absorbs the flavors of whatever you cook with it. To this day, one of our favorite recipes from that era was a Barbecued Tofu concoction that came in "The PETA Guide to Compassionate Living," a publication we received when we were card-carrying members of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The PETA publication plucked the recipe from Louise Hagler's '80s classic, Tofu Cookery.

There were two parts to the recipe: a marinade and a sauce, each delicious enough on its own to have been used alone. But together, the end result was out of this world!

First, make sure you get the right sort of tofu. You need to get the firm tofu that comes packed in water in the plastic tubs you can usually find in your grocer's produce section. Don't get the squishy kind that comes in a box. And make sure to get the unflavored variety. You'll have to squeeze the water out of the block of tofu. Remember, you're basically dealing with a sponge. The easiest way to do this is to lay the block on a saucer, then put a plate, upside down, over the block and set a heavy book on top of the plate. Give it about 30 minutes, then drain off the water that's been pressed out.

Here's the recipe, in its two parts.

Barbecued Tofu

2 lbs. firm tofu. Freeze, thaw, squeeze out the water and cut into 1" x 3" strips.

Mix together:

3 tbsp. peanut butter (do yourself a favor and use a natural, smooth variety)
1/3 cup oil
1 tbsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. salt

Whip mixture until smooth. Pour over tofu strips and squeeze in as evenly as possible. Marinate 1 hour. While it is marinating prepare Barbecue Sauce.

Barbecue Sauce

1/2 cup oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced

Saute together until onions are transparent. Stir in:

2 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. molasses
1/2 cup salad mustard
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. allspice
1 tbsp. crushed red pepper or 3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp dried parsley or 1 tbsp. fresh parsley

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour.

Add the following ingredients and simmer 10-15 minutes more:

1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp. soy sauce

Now put it all together. Lay the marinated tofu (no sauce yet!) out on a cookie sheet which has been spread with 1/4 cup oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until the bottoms are browned. Then turn the pieces and bake about 25 more minutes, or until the other sides are browned. Pour Barbecue Sauce over all the pieces and bake 15 more minutes.

Serve and enjoy!


Chef JP said...

Dang good recipe! I've been known to eat tofu on nights when the moon is full so I will definitely give this recipe a spin! chefjp

Barbeque Bachelor said...

Absolutely awesome! I will give your recipe a spin as soon as I get the chance. I had actually been thinking of ways to incorporate tofu into my lineup. Looks like you beat me to the punch. Do you think it would work on a grill? I wonder if the tofu would benefit from a little smoke. I just might have to find out!

sullicom said...

I'd only put it on the grill if it were on some sort of broiler pan. Otherwise I'd be afraid it might crumble and fall into the fire. But the smoke could be a good addition.

Chef JP said...

I believe you can grill the tofu if you put it in one of those handled baskets they use to grill fish with. chefjp

Barbeque Bachelor said...

I agree. The grill basket should work. I'll give it a shot. A package of extra firm tofu, grill basket, and a little TLC and it might be possible.