(This recipe previously appeared on my personal food blog Catch A Falling Anise Star. It's still dedicated to Kristina, Fiddleheads member/volunteer - and Piper's mama - who kick-started me back into posting recipes on the co-op FB page a year ago.)
Years ago my then-ladylove introduced me to tofu (and tempeh - but that's another story); and for a few years we were very nearly vegetarian...until the day I decided I had had it with the both of them. To be honest, I can't even recall why it happened. Fast forward to the present, and both protein sources have taken up a place in my cooking and my refrigerator once again. Once more, I can't even recall why. It just happened. I think of it as "trying to make friends" with them, and the relationship seems to be growing apace - encouragingly if not always fabulously. It helps that I don't try to make vegetable proteins become "fake meat"; rather, I try to approach tofu and tempeh for what they are, for their own unique qualities. (Apparently I am doing something right; I barely managed to photograph the portion above before my dinner companions gobbled it up.)
While the recipe below is done in a skillet, I have used this sauce successfully both atop the grill and under the broiler, with meat and poultry as well as tofu, or over portabello mushrooms. FYI, the term "bbq-style" refers to the sauce, a somewhat richer version of the bottled bbq sauces we used when I was growing up in Michigan. I am not trying to imitate North Carolina bbq (pulled pork) or any other regional specialty. (Pulled tempeh, anyone?)
3/4 lb organic tofu
minced yellow onion (optional)
olive oil or other light vegetable oil for pan
For the BBQ Sauce (about 1 cup):
1/3 cup organic ketchup
3-4 tablespoons organic dark or blackstrap molasses
1 large (3 small) garlic cloves, crushed/minced
1-2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons olive olive
2 teaspoons (or to taste) prepared stone-ground mustard
1 “krimson spice” or other small fresh hot pepper, about 1", seeded and chopped
(or substitute cayenne or pepper flakes to taste)
1/4-1/2 cup water
Cube tofu, then brown on all sides in cast iron skillet or other heavy pan on medium-high heat. Add the minced onion if desired. Make sure the pan is hot (not smoking) before adding tofu, so skin is "seared"; if too cold, the skin sticks to the surface of the pan.
Prepare sauce by combining all ingredients, adding water last to bring the total to 1 full cup; emulsify after each addition until sauce is opaque and thoroughly blended. Adjust seasonings to taste.
When tofu is golden brown on all sides (and onion translucent), pour 1/2 cup of the sauce over the tofu. Store remainder in the refrigerator for use another time. Turn heat down slightly to medium (or just below); toss with spatula to coat thoroughly. Turn as necessary. When most of sauce has been absorbed and thickened (tofu may be somewhat blackened at the edges), turn down very low and cover for a few minutes to let tofu continue absorbing flavors, or serve immediately.
Serves two very hungry women (with veggies and sides) two servings each.
Note: The sauce can be made while browning the tofu or made beforehand and stored in the refrigerator. If made ahead of time, bring it to room temperature before using and stir to recombine if ingredients have separated.
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Text and photos copyright 2011-2013 Janice Janostak unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.