Grillin’ & Noodlin’
For my birthday, the semi-vegan boyfriend got me a cast iron grill pan! One of those big ones that go over two burners on your stove and has a griddle on the flip side. It weighs approximately 74398242 pounds. It’s worth it to drag it out of the cupboard, though, because grilling tofu is the most fun. I had never had grilled ‘fu before, can you believe it? Now I want to grill everything! Like…peppers and onions and…what else do you grill? Corn? I need to get creative with it.
Look at those beautiful grill marks. Ok, I know, the tofu doesn’t seem to be the main focus of this picture, and that’s because I ate it with the Vietnamese Rice Noodle salad from Appetite for Reduction. Which is pretty tasty. I messed with the recipe, though, in order to use what I had on hand. Basically, I just didn’t use the veggies called for in the salad (except the greens) and subbed in some carrot ribbons, which are my new favorite thing to eat with Asian noodle dishes. You don’t even really have to cook them, since they’re so thin. A great way to incorporate more carrots (the best vegetable) into your diet. Oh, also I used a completely different tofu marinade, because I found this neat recipe in Vegetarian Times for Korean tofu. I love that magazine, by the way (thanks for the subscription, Mom!). It is filled to the brim with recipes every month, and the majority of them are already vegan. The few that aren’t are either easily veganized (sub in an egg or two, forget the cheese, use agave instead of honey) are usually baked goods, which I don’t really care too much about. Except I remember one time there were a bunch of recipes for frittatas and other egg-y dishes, and I was just like, ‘Why?…Gross’. But that doesn’t happen often. Anyway, lucky for you, the recipe for the tofu is online, so I can (for once) give you a recipe! Yay! Well, my adapted version anyway.
The original recipe is here, for Spicy Korean Tofu with Pear Slaw. It was in a section on braising, but I didn’t want to braise my tofu, I wanted to grill it. Also, I didn’t make the pear slaw, because I was using the tofu to go with the noodle salad from AFR.
Spicy Grilled Korean Tofu
1 14 oz package extra firm tofu, drained and pressed, then cut into 8 rectangular slices
3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp water
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (I grated mine on the microplane)
oil, for the grill
Whisk together all ingredients except the tofu while the it is being pressed. Once it’s done and cut, dredge it in the marinade and let it sit for about an hour (or longer!). When you’re ready to get cooking, preheat your grill pan over medium-high heat and brush with oil (sesame would be lovely for flavor, olive oil works fine, though). Or heat up your regular, outdoor grill, but I don’t know how to use one of those, so you’re on your own there. When it’s good and hot, drop those tofu slices on. I found that my grill pan didn’t get as hot in the middle, between the burners, so you might need to concentrate the slices on either end. Let ’em sit there for a few minutes, until they get nice, dark grill marks (about 5 minutes), then flip them and do the same for the other side. Once both sides are beautifully marked, you’re done! Serve with the noodle salad above, or just in a regular salad, or just on the side of some other delicious Asian dish.
Granted, grilled tofu (or at least mine) doesn’t get quite as firm and chewy as tofu with a longer cooking time, so be aware of that if you’re serving it to anyone who doesn’t like the original texture of the stuff. If it’s a real problem, you can press it for a lot longer (gets more water out, firms it up nicer) or freeze it before pressing and marinating, which changes the texture altogether.
And now, what did I think of it all? The tofu was delicious. That simple marinade was just perfect, and paired nicely with the dressing from the rice noodle salad. The salad was complex and spicy (!so spicy!), and the addition of mint really balanced it out and helped cool down your taste buds a hair. I will most definitely be making this again. Since it makes a ton of food, it’s a really great dish to make and have on hand for lunches during the week. Now that’s a lunch I can look forward to.
Quick, tell me things that you like to grill!