Smoking Tofu on the Grill

Long, long ago, and in a faraway place, a restless wandering teen found herself at a rainbow picnic in a drizzly Northwestern city. There she ate some tofu, and Lo! It was delicious, which nobody had ever expected…

Anyway, that was me and I still occasionally experiment with tofu because I know it can be done and I want to see if I can do it. I like a challenge, and, if you know more than three people (vegan or not) who actually get excited to eat the quivery blobs then, well, you know different people than me, I guess.

Tofu preparers all over the internet give much lip service to pressing tofu, which involves squeezing as much moisture as you can from the blocks and then replacing that moisture by letting it sit in a marinade overnight. The most often recommended marinade is a combination of honey, soy sauce and garlic. I’ve managed to produce some decent results with this method, and the addition of fresh ginger and sesame oil to the marinade makes it ideal for Asian dishes.

Lately I’ve run across several tofu prep tips that recommend soaking your portions in a warm salt water solution to produce a more flavorful product with a crispier crust. It’s a method that is reminiscent of brining a cut of meat, and has the appeal of only taking fifteen minutes instead of the two frickin’ days that pressing and marinating takes.

I chose to go with a hybrid of both techniques and then smoke it, which didn’t really require much extra effort on account of having already prepared a dry rub for chicken with the intent of barbecuing it the next day. I reserved some chicken rub, added extra salt and warm water to make my tofu brine and let it sit in the fridge overnight next the container of dry rubbed chicken.

The pressing took place the next day while my grill was heating up, with the blobby blobs getting pulled out of the brine placed on top of some folded paper towels on a plate, with more folded paper towels on top of that, and yet another plate – wait for it – on top of that! Once the smoker box full of mesquite chips started, um, well, smoking, I buttered those briny bbq blobs (say that some times fast!) and placed them on my grill rack directly above the smoky smoke.

bbq tofu briningbbq tofu getting pressedbbq tofu getting butteredmesquite smoke

I smoked the tofu for about 45 minutes, turning it twice before painting it with Sweet Baby Ray’s (mmm, Sweet Baby Ray’s thoughts make me dribble on my chin) Barbeque Sauce on all sides. The end result was my most (most) successful (successful) tofu (tofu) ever (ever). I don’t really know how to write a resonant echo, but I was trying there. If you need further encouragement to give tofu a try one of these Mondays, almost all of it was inhaled by my notoriously bean-curd-skeptical 8 year old.

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