Yep, I grilled tofu…and I liked it. Now all my beliefs are being questioned.
For a day, I visited my own version of bizarro world. What’s up was down, what’s down was up, and I was stuck somewhere in between, eating grilled tofu and thinking that this is something I would eat again. Not that I will ever confuse it with meat, or willingly promote it to be my main source of protein, but as it turns out, it’s an acceptable meal plan for those times that require meatless meals, you know, like Fridays in Lent, which is just how this all came about.
Wait, is that you giving me the side-eye now? Has our relationship been forever altered? Are you rolling those eyes, waving me off, turning around while muttering “Psshh” under your breath? Don’t tune me out just yet, because I get it. And yes, I almost feel the need to apologize. But hey, I’ll generally try anything on the grill at least once, and please, believe me when I pause, head down, but eyes rising to meet yours, with eyebrows raised, and confidently look you in the eye, repeating that infamous phrase, “But ya just gotta have it cooked right“.
And cooked right, in this case, means slow-grilling the tofu, with the results being a tasty, and more importantly, a texturally acceptable meal. But lets not get ahead of ourselves, because I also learned that the prep work is just as important as the cook, so now that I’m sure you’re on the edge of your seat, anxiously awaiting the method of preparing this combo of bean curd and soy milk, let’s get after it.
While the grill is preheating, getting up to a screaming hot temperature, get your hands on some quality, firm tofu, (No I didn’t know there were different degrees of firmness, but I do now). The tofu I bought was packed in liquid, pre sliced into four, one inch thick slabs. It kinda resembled one of those large, rectangular hunks of yellow, quick melting cheese. But it wasn’t, so that was a dirty trick now, wasn’t it, haha. The individual slices were removed from the packaging and “pressed“, meaning laid in between paper towels with a weight of some sort set on top of them for at least fifteen minutes. This’ll squeeze that excess moisture out, prepping the tofu for it’s date with a marinade.
And today’s marinade of choice was admittedly, something I picked up off the clearance rack. Just in case this little experiment went in the wrong direction, I didn’t want to waste a lot of time or money on a more expensive, or time-consuming marinade. This prepared sauce billed itself as an Asian Barbecue marinade/sauce, which seemed to fit the bill perfectly. It had minimal sugar, but featured the soy, sesame and ginger aspect that I was looking for. So into the sealable bag with the tofu and the marinade, squeezing the air out, sealing tight, then left in the fridge to see if those flavors would somehow import themselves into the tofu pieces. The recommendation for marinading tofu requires at least a 15 minute span, but a longer soak is always better in my book, so this tofu stuffed bag lay in our fridge for two days, with a quick flip a couple of times during the process.
When it was time to make my way to the grill, the smell of Spring collided with the aroma of hickory smoke. The tofu was laid out single file-like, straight across, but not over the coals.
Once settled in, the cover was put back on. I glanced at the timer, making a note to let these pieces be for twenty minutes, just enough time to assume my outside sitting position, book in hand and cold beverage within reach so as to get a couple of chapters read while enjoying the Asian enhanced smoke escaping from the grill vents. After twenty minutes, I rose up, took a stretch, and meandered over to lift the lid, do the tofu flip, and slather on a little more of that Asian barbecue sauce.
All that was left to do after that was to return to my pit side, grill jockeying position, comfortably leaning back while doing a mini check on the insides of my eyelids for cracks. Once again, after another twenty minutes, the lid was lifted, and these squares of potential dinner looked great. They browned nicely, showing grill marks while a glaze formed on the exterior.
So a couple more rounds of sauce brushed on while shuttling them back and forth over the coals for about a minute finished them off nicely. The sauce-induced smells coming from the grill were enticing, with the Asian Barbecue sauce suggesting that this clearance rack pickup may have turned into a delicious find. Opening the grill up revealed nicely crosshatched pieces of tofu, with the sauce caramelized and shining like your Uncle’s forehead after a Spring shower. I added a couple more brush strokes of the sauce and positioned the squares over the remaining coals, just long enough to get that sticky marinade to continue forming a crusty, barky type finish, and finish, it did.
With no need to let this dish rest, it was rushed into the kitchen where it was united with complementary side dishes of cucumber salad and couscous pasta with spinach.
We looked at each other as we took that first, anticipated bite. Following two nods of approval, dinner commenced, and ended with clean plates and no leftovers. My hunger was satisfied, but my mental state was still out of sorts a bit, like something was just not right. I felt a little guilty, to tell you the truth. Looking inwards, I knew what I had to do, season up and marinate a nice pork tenderloin for tomorrow’s dinner.
Because Life Is Better Wood Fired