Got a pesky vegetarian or, god forbid, a vegan coming to one of your meat lovers Christmas barbecues and you don’t know what to cook for them? This marinated tofu is the answer. While you could just let your vegetarian guests eat salad, it is nice to offer them a bit of cooked protein so they don’t feel completely left out of the celebrations. These marinated tofu steaks are super-easy and you’ll probably have to fight off the meat eaters so the vegetarians can get their fair share. They are good grilled as ‘steaks’ at your barbie or in a roll as a tofu burger but they are also excellent sliced and rolled into Vietnamese rice paper rolls, tossed in salads or served – the way we enjoyed them last night, with sesame soba noodles and a carrot and cucumber pickle.
The recipe for the tofu’s hoisin marinade comes from the Tassajara Cookbook: Lunches, picnics and appetisers by Karla Oliveira. If you are cooking these tofu steaks on the barbecue, just make sure you add some oil to the plate and turn the heat down a little. You want gently caramelised edges on your tofu steaks, not scorched burnt ones. You can also just cook them on the stove in a cast iron pan. My family’s been having a bit of a love affair with soba noodles over the past few years – we have them in soups, with stir-fried veggies and as the fastest meal on the planet for my son, which is broccoli cooked with the noodles for four minutes and served with tamari and tuna. There are so many recipes for sesame soba noodles but I love the simplicity of this garlicky, vinegary and sweet dressing that I discovered on the blog Sweet Amandine. It’s great as a base to add veggies to or serve as a side to any number of dishes.
This was the first time I made this quick carrot and cucumber pickle – I found this recipe in the archives of Lucy Dodd’s wonderfully laid-back blog, Nourish Me. I pretty much love all pickles but this one is seriously addictive. It’s similar to the Indonesian vegetable pickle, achar, and its sweet, crunchy freshness would go particularly well with any coconut milk-based curry. You can definitely play around with this recipe and try different vegetable combinations. I didn’t have any green chillies on hand so I used some chilli flakes and put in some thinly sliced red pepper instead.
Barbecued tofu steaks Hoisin marinade (Makes 1 cup of marinade)
- ¼ cup hoisin sauce
- ¼ cup of mirin
- 2½ tablepoons soy sauce
- 1½ tablespoons brown sugar (I use grated palm sugar)
- 1½ tablespoons ketchup
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
- For tofu steaks, slice a 750g pack of tofu into two-centimetre slices, and pour marinade into a baking dish. Place tofu slices in marinade and coat both sides in marinade. Place container in fridge and marinate tofu for at least two hours, turning the tofu slices occasionally so each side sits in the marinate for a while.
- Heat oil in cast iron pan or barbecue plate and gently fry tofu steaks on both sides until golden brown and edges are caramelised.
Sesame noodles (serves 5–6)
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 6 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 6 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 500 grams pasta – angel hair, linguine or soba noodles
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (I toast my seeds in a small cast iron pan but you can toast them in an 180°C oven)
- ½ cup thinly sliced spring onions (scallions)
- Place the garlic, sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil and sir until the sugar dissolves.
- Cook the pasta or noodles according to packet directions, drain and place back in saucepan.
- Pour sauce over noodles, add sesame seeds and sliced spring onions and mix through thoroughly.
- serve warm or at room temperature.
Quick carrot and cucumber pickle
- 1 large carrot
- 1 cucumber about the same length as the carrot
- 3 golden shallots peeled
- 2 long green chillies
- 1 tablespoon of sea salt
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- ½ cup rice or white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of palm or caster sugar
- ½ teaspoons ground tumeric
- 1 tablespoon of mustard seeds
- ¼ cup of macadamia or light olive oil
- Peel carrot and cut into thin matchsticks. Slice cucumber in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and slice into batons. Slice shallots and green chillies and mix all vegetables together in a bowl.
- Mix the remaining ingredients together in a small saucepan, bring to the boil and stir until sugar is dissolved.
- Remove from heat and pour over vegetables. Let vegetables rest in marinade for at least an hour before serving.
- Any leftovers of this pickle should keep well for several days in airtight container in the refrigerator.