Garlicky Grilled Tofu

Bland and weird. Definitely weird. Those were the words that came to my mind when I first tasted tofu. It reminded me of a type of white cheese from Puerto Rico aptly named “queso blanco.” Like the cheese, tofu is mostly sold in blocks suspended in water and other stabilizing agents. Tofu itself is really high in water. Think of it as a sponge of sorts. A protein, carb, and fat sponge – yum, haha. In retrospect, the very first tofu I tried was not properly or, at least lovingly, prepared in two respects: First, it was not drained from most of its water. Secondly, it was bland, very bland. Like meats, you can really tell when tofu is not marinated or seasoned with love, so: If you’re having tofu, season it!  Unless you like its “queso blanco” texture, sans the taste; I totally respect that. =)

I don’t eat tofu that much, or any high-protein meat substitute for that matter, but there are times when I just crave it. Like yesterday. Luckily, I had a some just-to-expire tofu in the fridge, so I went ahead and gave it some love before eating it today. Our relationship was woven in roasted garlic, fresh ginger, soy sauce, and pepper. Delicious as it was, we had to part, or rather the tofu did, as I grilled it this afternoon and served it with some pico de gallo. So sad, yet satisfying. Oh, and I had what was left of my amaretto ice cream. Now that was sad.

Yields: 4 servings of tofu

Tools and Equipment

Stove Or Grill

Grill pan

Tong

Plastic zipped bag, small

Ingredients

1 Pckg Tofu

3 cloves Roasted garlic

1 Tsp Minced ginger

1 Tbsp Soy sauce

Pepper to taste.

Nonstick spray or oil 

  1. To squeeze-out some of the water in tofu, remove it from the package and wrap it with either a cloth or paper towel.
  2. Place the wrapped tofu between two plates and add a weight over the top plate, until the wrapping looks damp. You can repeat this as many times as you like. I generally do it three times to remove as much of the water as possible. It takes around 45 minutes total. Don’t stand there, looking at it, of course ;-). You can set it up, and return every 15 minutes or so :-).
  3. Place the strained tofu in the bag and add the rest of the ingredients. Refrigerate over night. You can cut it into as many servings as you want and marinate it, that way you’ll increase the flavor per serving. I like to marinate the block and spike the servings individually with the same ingredients just before grilling it. This allows the sugars and other yummy components to caramelize on the surface, creating a neat crust! =D
  4. Heat the grill or grill pan and grease the surface. You can use nonstick spray. Once hot, place the tofu servings. Heat until desired char and grill marks appear. No rules here.

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On Roasting Garlic. An awesome fundamental.

“Garlic.” After hearing the word, I’m immediately transported to a time when Emeril Lagasse would “add just a little” of the good stuff to hot pan. You could hear the garlic sizzle, but nothing could compare to the smell that must have emanated from there. No wonder he often spoke about how we, the viewers, should demand for “smellavision.” Speaking of smells, roasting garlic is one of those things that will have you, and your neighbors, crazy with the amazing aroma of deliciousness. Really.

I had never tried roasting garlic until very recently. It was so simple and delicious, I ate six garlic heads with toasts and had a lovely-garlic(y) breath afterwards. It also proved to be a taste-changing element in most of the recipes I used to make with raw garlic. For the better, of course. Since this is the first recipe I post, and because I have some stuff from lab to get done, I will omit the measurements. It is so intuitive and versatile, you don’t really need anything other than the time, the temperature and a couple of tips here and there.

First off, set the oven to 300°F and make sure you have a pan where you can accommodate the garlic. I bought these rather small garlic heads at the supermarket today, so I placed them in the pan just to see how many would fit.

Cut the top off the heads and season with generous amounts of salt and pepper. Douse with some extra virgin olive oil.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour at 300 °F. Once the time is done, remove the top foil and place the pan on the topmost rack of the oven. Increase the temperature to 375°F and roast for 20 minutes. Let it cool off for 15 – 20 minutes. WARNING: The aroma of roasted garlic will take over your entire kitchen area, and if your apartment/living space is as small as mine, then get ready to have the smell of garlic in your clothes, computers, oh, and cake, if you happen to have any around, like I did. Alas, not to worry. Leave a window open and the smell dissipates very quickly.

Squeeze out the garlic cloves into a clean container. I don’t know if it’s the lab rat in me, but using nitrile gloves felt perfect for this job. No mess, no fuss, just clean squeezing.

All I can say, is that roasted garlic is amazing. It works for families and for far-from-family-students, as they can be stored in the refrigerator for quite a long time. The flavors of roasted garlic blend so well, that they make anything and everything taste delicious, without the overpowering-OUCH raw garlic gives food. That’s why I think it can serve as part of a base for other ingredients/flavors to build upon. Like avocados, lime, and jalapeños, for example. Now, if I just had cherry tomatoes.