Tag Archives: vegetarian barbecue

Salute to tofu

Tofu is delicious.  As a vegetarian who likes good food and cooking, tofu is an essential building block.  I want to talk about making fried tofu and tofu scramble.

Fried tofu should start with pressing out the extra water from the soy cake.  Buy firm or regular tofu, anything but soft tofu (which is great for smoothies and certain recipes where structural integrity isn’t the thing).  Open up the package and rinse your tofu.  Slice it into slabs and then lay it onto a clean towel and gently press the water out of the tofu.

Cut tofu into chunks and then add to hot frying pan with a little oil.  You’ll be getting the pan pretty hot, so I recommend a seasoned cast iron pan and an oil with a high smoke point like peanut or canola.  But anything will do, if you happen to be cooking with olive oil then just turn down the temperature a little.

One CRUCIAL tip is to leave the tofu alone for a minute or two.  Most of us want to stir and shake all the time.  But the first minute of cooking is when the tofu develops it’s developing delicious crispy skin.  If you move it before that happens you’ll tear up the tofu because it is still sticking to the pan.  Let the tofu sit until it gently moves in the pan with a little shake of the handle.

Flip the tofu chunks with tongs or by shaking the pan.  But remember to leave the pan alone after moving your tofu to let that tasty skin develop.

Tofu scramble is really a matter of taste.  There are a couple of health food store semi-corporate seasoning packets that you can buy to get inspired.  If you investigate this way, just note the seasonings on the back and you can usually remake the recipe with your own changes.

When I ate scrambled eggs I preferred them to be a medium for cheese and vegetables.  So my tofu scramble comes out the same way — more heavily seasoned and with a lot of vegetables mixed in.

Step one: sauté a few veggies — whatever you want to eat for breakfast.  Here is some cabbage and zucchini.

Step two: add tofu.  Once you get the veggies a little soft crumble the tofu on top and then stir it all together.

Step three: seasoning.

The most important addition in tofu scramble is nutritional yeast.  I’ll add it into the scramble at various points. It adds salt, fermentation flavor, sweet, color and it dries up the tofu bits making more browned (maillard reaction) flavor.   Start with a tablespoon and add more to your taste.

Turmeric doesn’t add much flavor but it gives a great color and smell.

Hot peppers, chili flakes, hot sauce, any kind of heat.

Soy sauce.  I’ll just splash in soy sauce and mix it around.

Italian seasonings usually go just fine — oregano, marjoram and thyme.

Cook and taste, adjusting seasoning along the way.  If you like runny eggs, then just leave a little of the moisture from the tofu and veggies going.  If you want a more crumbly dry scramble, then cook a little while longer and add a little more nutritional yeast.  Enjoy!

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Sauerkraut and vegetarian barbecue

Sauerkraut and brio bread.

I got inspired to make my own Sauerkraut and batch one was fantastic.  I simply chopped up an organic cabbage, sprinkled with a little salt (less than a teaspoon), mashed it up and then stuffed it into a breathable jug.   In a little less than a week there were nice bacteria bubbles and a healthy sour smell.  I like my sauerkraut to taste like steamed cabbage sprinkled with fresh lemon — a delicate and sweet flavor.  When it reached critical mass, I jammed the kraut into some jars and put it in the fridge.

The ultimate plan was to make my own vegetarian spicy sausage to go with this finest of condiments.

It has been a long time since I made seitan, but it was exceptionally easy.  I made a nice stock (carrots, onions, garlic, spices, veggie broth and some leftover veggies from old meals), mixed up the vital wheat gluten with chili flakes and fennel seeds, added liquid and then kneaded the seitan.

It came together so fast that some parts of the mix didn’t get hydrated well.  Sliced into slabs and then into the broth.  I’m also realizing that my broth might have been too hot.  But some of the seitan came out firm and some was jiggly perfect.

But it was not, sausage-like.  What I had was a kind of firm beef-like substance, not quite what I was intending.

When life toughens your seitan, you make barbecue!

One thin sliced onion

two garlic cloves, diced

Oil for cooking

salt and pepper

one tablespoon of brown sugar

chili flakes

chili powder

smoked paprika or a drop of liquid smoke

yellow mustard (or any mustard) to taste

ketchup to taste

cider vinegar

Sautee the onions and garlic at a low heat.  Add all the spices and let it all soften.  Add wet ingredients to taste and keep stirring.  Once you have a healthy barbecue sauce going, add in thinly sliced seitan and stir.  I let the whole thing cook for a few minutes to warm the seitan.

Served on thinly sliced bread open face.

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