Hmmm…not bad!

8 Feb

I did it. I actually enjoyed some grilled tofu last night. (Picture taken on my cell phone, sorry!)

I haven't been missing eating meat, but I made grilled chicken for Jason and the kids and just wanted something with that yummy grill flavor. I found this recipe in one of the many vegan cookbooks I borrowed from the library. It was marinated overnight in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, cracked black pepper, dried oregano and a pinch of salt substitute. It went on the grill at the same time as the chicken. It came off the grill with beautiful grill marks and that wonderful "grill" taste. The texture was similar to a grilled mushroom – not squishy at all –  and it basically tasted like the marinade. Nothing chalky or funky about it.
I'm sure you've all heard that tofu is so mild it takes on the flavor of whatever you're cooking it with. Well, I've made tofu before and the marinade just sits on the outside of the tofu slices and the inside is white and mushy. Yuck. But I wasn't doing it right. I just learned that there's a trick to making tofu have a firmer texture and more flavor. 
So here's what you do — when you get home from the grocery store with your firm or extra-firm block of tofu, put it right in the freezer. The day before you're going to eat it, thaw it completely. Then drain off the water. Slice it into the shape and size pieces you want (mine are about 3/8" thick). Lay a clean dishtowel on your counter and top it with a paper towel. Lay the tofu slices on the paper towel. Put a paper towel on top of the slices, then another clean dishtowel, then a sturdy cutting board on top of the stack. Put something really heavy on top of the cutting board, like a cast iron pan or some food cans. Let that sit for half an hour or more. This will force the water out. You want them as "dry" as you can get them. Put them in a plastic storage box and completely submerge them in your marinade, turning several times. Cover and put in the fridge overnight. Cook them the next day however you want – grill, stir fry, saute, bake, whatever.
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Even Jason tried it! He won't be trading grilled chicken or steak for tofu anytime soon, but he did say "hmmm…not bad." I'll take that as a compliment!

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