Smokin' hot Tofu, what?
I recently made my smoked tofu for a chef friend and she commented that it was the ONLY time she had enjoyed tofu, ever. While my ego swelled for a second I was bummed that she had not experienced the myriad of ways that tofu can be satisfying and wholly delicious. So in an effort to rectify this situation for anyone else missing out on the wonders of humble tofu prepared well, here is my contribution to your education: smoked tofu, it's hot and tasty but made without fire.
A few caveats, firstly, make sure the tofu you buy is organic, firm in texture and a good sized, block shape for easy slicing. So many people buy silken tofu (with the texture of runny scrambled eggs), find it impossible to cook and give up on tofu altogether. I have heard it a thousand times, I probably did it myself back in the day. Chinese grocers are a good source of freshly made, firm tofu, as are wholefood supermarkets and health food stores, although these can be a little more pricey. Secondly, if you live in a teeny space (like us minimalists over here) you won't have the need for a smoker, much less want the residual stank that comes into the house from smoking on a balcony or outdoor terrace. You are welcome.
If you are having people for dinner, a mixture of meat-eaters and vege-forward eaters, this is a sure thing to make everyone happy and maybe you'll even convert the most carnivorous of your guests to give tofu a fair go. It is a meaty tasting vegan dish. Here I served it on a sushi rice salad with shredded red cabbage and snow peas (mange tous), but you could make it the pattie in a burger, a 'steak' with a few different salads or roasted veggies, as the sliced 'meat' in a grain/poke bowl or even the 'bacon' in a BLT. If you find another great use for it, please post in the comments, I would LOVE to hear how you use it! Without further ado, let's smoke up.
(for every 100 grams of firm tofu)
- 1 tablespoon of tamari or coconut aminos
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon grated garlic
- 1 small shallot (French onion) finely sliced
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (darker the better)
- 1 heaping teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon liquid smoke, optional but highly recommended
- Pinch white pepper, optional
- 2 teaspoon EVOO (Extra virgin olive oil)
- black or white sesame seeds for garnish
- Combine everything until evoo in a large, glass marinating dish/container with a lid. Whisk to combine well.
- Slice tofu into 2" cubes or slices if you want to have it as a 'steak' or in a burger, or a bit thinner for a bacon slice for a sandwich.
- Put tofu into marinade, toss to coat well and leave in the fridge to soak up the flavours for 4-24 hours. You can jiggle it around every few hours to make sure it is marinating everything evenly.
- When ready to cook, heat a skillet or grill pan to high heat but not smoking point. Fry tofu for a minute or two each side until a nice brown/black sear appears.
- If there is a lot of marinade left, pour it over the hot pan and reduce it quickly to make a great sticky sauce for the tofu, remove immedeately.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Serve immediately (see suggestions above and below).