(But sheep can’t make it because they don’t have hands.)
Not long ago, at a Vegans of Whidbey Island monthly potluck, I was asked once again for my recipe for barbecued tofu, & decided to post it, instead of just writing it down.
Though possibly the easiest item one can make from tofu, this recipe has often been a big hit at public gatherings.
More than 600 people, for example, enjoyed barbecued tofu prepared to these specs at the 2000 No Kill Conference at the Tucson Conference Center.
As the National Rifle Association was meeting simultaneously just across the hall, luncheon speaker Steve Hindi, founder of Showing Animals Respect & Kindness, walked over & invited some of the NRA members to join us for the meal.
Unfortunately the NRA members declined the invitation, as the other half of it was that they would have to debate Hindi about the ethnics and morality of hunting.
Just four steps
There are just seven total ingredients, and four steps, so simple a raccoon could learn them: mix, marinate, bake, glaze.
Start with extra firm or firm block tofu, frozen & then thawed. Freezing the tofu rock-hard and then slowly thawing it is absolutely essential to success.
The freezing and thawing changes the texture of the tofu, making it much more porous and therefore better able to absorb the marinade.
Peanut butter. I prefer to use the chunky kind. (Soy nut butter can be substituted.)
Molasses (or any other kind of syrup you like)
Thawing the tofu
Put the tofu blocks in your freezer overnight, take them out in the morning, then let them thaw.
You can accelerate the thawing by immersing the tofu blocks (still in their sealed plastic wrappers) in hot water, but a gradual thaw is best. Microwaving is not advised. The slower the thaw, the less brittle the tofu will be, and therefore the easier to handle.
After thawing the tofu, gently squeeze as much water out of it as possible. But don’t worry if the centers of each tofu block are still slightly frozen. Just lengthen the baking time a little, when you get that far.
Putting it all together
Slice the tofu into strips about a half inch square by three inches long (or whatever length is easiest to do.)
Next, put two heaping tablespoons of peanut butter per block of tofu you are using into a mixing bowl.
Shake paprika and black pepper over the peanut butter.
Use hot water to make the peanut butter emulsify. Stir the peanut butter, hot water, paprika, and black pepper together.
Baking & glazing
Toss the tofu strips into the mixture and roll each strip over in it once before placing the strip flat on a cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 to 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Don’t worry about absolute precision: cooking time can & will be varied to taste.
While the tofu bakes, mix a glaze. I like to use equal portions of catsup, molasses (maple syrup works as an upscale variation), and soy sauce. To get the best blend, put the soy sauce into the mixing cup first, then the catsup, then the molasses.
After the tofu has baked for 45 minutes, glaze it with the sauce and then put the cookie sheet of tofu strips back into the oven, with the heat turned off, for another 15-20 minutes.
The only way anyone can make a mess of this, if all directions are followed, is to use soft tofu that falls apart instead of slicing. If you overcook it, it just gets crunchier.
How long will tofu keep in the fridge if it’s unopened?
Frozen tofu keeps exceptionally well. Unlike silken tofu, which emulsifies into a stinky mess if not consumed promptly, frozen tofu might have survived in the Arctic permafrost since the time of the wooly mammoths. But none did, possibly because the mammoths ate it all.
I have never had frozen tofu go bad. So long as it stays frozen, as it would if left outdoors in a Montreal winter, you can even use the stuff for ersatz brick bats, & still eat it afterward.
(You may recall that Mark Twain complained that he couldn’t pitch a brick bat from a hotel room balcony in Montreal without hitting a church. It is not recorded that Twain ever used tofu for this purpose. Like the wooly mammoths, Twain probably cooked & ate his tofu.)