from Daniel Larkin
to jamey bennett
show details 10:16 AM (1 minute ago)
I’m not going to lie to you, Jamey, last night I made the best tofu reuben I’ve ever eaten. This normally wouldn’t sound like a big deal except that an all vegetarian restaurant in Knoxville named Veg-O-Rama used to make a tofureuben that would knock my socks off – that is until they closed shop. Anyway, I think I beat theirreuben!
Another reason this is big news is that after living with a vegetarian for 7 years, I think I finally figured out how to make good tofu. I’m sure you’ve cooked enough tofu to know that it’s a blank slate of a food item texturally and flavor-wise, and it requires some seemingly magical skill to make progress on either front.
Marinating is obviously necessary, but there’s always the problem of sloppy loose texture – even when you use “extra firm” curd. There is one brand of local organic tofu we buy sometimes that’s thick as a steak, but what’s good for the texture is bad for flavor, since the denseness impedes rapid marination. (And who wants to marinate tofu all day?)
So here’s what I learned.
First, I bought the generic organic tofu – extra firm, but still squishy in regards to the final product. I cut the tofu into about 1/4 inch slices and pressed them with paper towels to dry them out as much as possible. (Nothing new here, this is standard prep work for tofu) Then I laid them flat in a large ziplock baggie and filled it with a rough 1:1 mix of water and soy sauce with a splash of worchestire sauce and liquid hickory smoke. I set that in the fridge and let it go for a few hours while I worked.
Now, the biggest thing I did differently than any other time was that I cooked the tofu slices for about 10 minutes on very high heat with a small amount of safflower oil. I’ve never used “high heat” oil for tofu before, and so I’ve never been able to utilize the temperatures needed to toughen and crisp the slices. It was beautiful! Golden brown slices that didn’t just dissolve in my mouth. There’s no faking corned beef, but this was damn good.
I placed a few stacks of the tofu slices on some pumpernickel bread smeared with Harvest Ground mustard and Thousand Island Dressing, and topped it all with a good swiss cheese and my homemade sauerkraut (left over from Oktoberfest). I broiled the sandwich in the toaster, and viola!
In all honesty, I think the sauerkraut made the sandwich what it was, but the marinated tofu cooked to perfection was what I’ve been missing all these years. It was fantastic, and I’d even wager that my father would like it.