Friday, October 11, 2013

Tofukabobs with Peanut Sauce

I remember a conversation with a friend many years ago. We were talking about recipes and cookbooks, vegetarian cooking in particular, and my friend asked “Do you have any of the Moosewood cookbooks?” At the time, I didn’t, and as she talked more about the books I knew I needed to change that pronto. Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home found a spot on my shelves soon thereafter. The restaurant, located in Ithaca, New York, has now been in operation for 40 years, and they’ve just published their thirteenth cookbook. Their latest, of which I received a review copy, brings together all their favorite and most-requested recipes. In Moosewood Restaurant Favorites, some of the dishes have been updated from their original state because various ingredients are now more easily sourced than they once were, or maybe a dish has been made so many times, it’s been slightly modified over the years. The result is a fresh look at what the Moosewood Collective knows to be the most beloved items from years of menus. The book isn’t entirely vegetarian since there is a Fish chapter, but that’s the only place where you’ll find meat. Every course and type of dish is covered with appetizers, soups, dips, sandwiches, salads, mains, stews, savory pies, casseroles, wraps, pasta, sides, sauces, condiments, and desserts. These are classic, doable dishes that don’t involve hours of prep or any complicated steps to create them. I’ve been eying the Burgers chapter since I’m always hoping to find a perfect homemade veggie burger, and there are several options here. I’m going to have to taste and compare the Moosewood’s Classic Tofu Burgers, Falafel Burgers, and Southwestern Bean Burgers. In the Curries and Stews chapter, there are options for every season, and the Navajo Stew with sweet potatoes, chipotles, and black beans served with cornbread and Cilantro-Yogurt Sauce sounds like a great comfort-food meal. The Vegetable Stroganoff, Confetti Kale Slaw, and Italian Polenta-stuffed Peppers are a few other things I want to make soon. There’s an entire chapter just for tofu main dishes, but the first tofu recipe I tried was from Appetizers. The Tofukabobs would be fun as party food since this is food on sticks, and there are plenty of big flavors from the marinade and Peanut Sauce. 

You’ll want to press the tofu first so that it can absorb the marinade. After pressing, the tofu was cut into one-inch cubes and covered with a mix of vegetable oil and soy sauce. You could place as many as four tofu cubes on each skewer, but I went with three. The skewers were soaked in water to prevent them from burning as the tofu cooks. The kabobs were placed on a baking sheet and popped into a 425 degree F oven for about 25 minutes. I turned the kabobs at the half-way point of cooking. They don’t look very exciting after only 12 minutes in the oven, but just wait. After the full cooking time, the tofu turns golden and a little crisp on the edges. Meanwhile, the peanut sauce was a quick mix of peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, water, sesame oil, honey, and I used sriracha for hot sauce. Taste as you mix, and choose your consistency. I added a bit more water to thin the sauce to a good pourable state, and I added a bit more sriracha for an extra spicy kick. 

The kabobs were served on a platter with the peanut sauce drizzled over top. Extra peanut sauce was served on the side for dipping. I had to add a sprinkle of a few garnishes including chopped green onions, garlic chives, and serrano chiles. The platter of kabobs was soon empty, and I can see why these are a favorite. I’m so glad to have gotten to know Moosewood through their books thanks to my friend mentioning them all those years ago.

Tofukabobs with Peanut Sauce 
Recipe reprinted with publisher's permission from Moosewood Restaurant Favorites.

Tofu cubes baked on a skewer come out nice and chewy, a perfect vehicle for the delicious peanut sauce. We can’t tell you how many people this recipe— twelve tofukabobs— will serve. Is it going to be a snack, appetizer, central on the dinner plate, or part of a buff et? Then there is a bigger consideration: who will be eating them? Some people are happy with one skewer. Others force themselves to stop after four or five. Tofukabob enthusiasts are often people who said when they were first offered one, “Oh. OK, but I’m not too fond of tofu.” All it takes is a couple of people who go gaga over them to wipe out a platterful in no time. All tofu is not the same— the consistency varies. Be sure to get fresh tofu if you can. And, if you have a convection oven, use it for this recipe. 

Yields 12 skewers; about 1 cup sauce 
Prep time: 20 minutes Baking time: 20 to 25 minutes 

two 14- to 16- ounce blocks firm or extra- firm tofu 
twelve 10- inch bamboo skewers 
1⁄4 cup vegetable oil 
1⁄4 cup soy sauce 

1⁄3 cup smooth peanut butter 
2 tablespoons soy sauce 
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar 
1⁄3 cup water 
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil 
2 teaspoons Tabasco or other hot sauce (optional) 
1 tablespoon brown sugar or honey 

First, press the tofu for at least 10 minutes (see page 388). Soak the skewers in water. Preheat the oven to 450°F, or a convection oven to 425°F. Generously oil a large baking sheet. 

Cut the blocks of tofu into 1- inch cubes; you should get 24 cubes from each block. Transfer the tofu cubes to a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil and soy sauce and pour over the tofu. Using a rubber spatula, gently turn the tofu cubes to coat all sides. 

Thread 4 cubes onto each soaked skewer, leaving about 1⁄2 inch of space between them, and place on the prepared baking sheet, leaving space between the tofukabobs. Bake until sizzling and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes; less if using a convection oven. 

While the tofu bakes, stir together all of the peanut sauce ingredients until smooth. Serve warm or at room temperature. Arrange the tofukabobs on a serving platter and drizzle them with peanut sauce. Put the rest of the peanut sauce in a little pitcher, so the peanut sauce lovers can drench their tofukabobs, if they like. 

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  1. You have done what I didn't think could be done - make tofu look amazingly good!

  2. I saw these on FB and thought they looked really good. I love tofu cooked this way and of course tofu goes so well with peanut sauce xx

  3. I love tofu prepared at any form. These skewers look mouthwatering, Lisa.

  4. Exquisite! That is a great combination. Tofu is so versatile and delicious.



  5. Such an adorable name - "Tofukabobs!" These chewy tofu cubes look tasty in that yummy peanut sauce! Have you tried TofuXpress? I love that appliance, it presses tofu very well. I've posted about it on my blog that early summer. I love that last photo - beautiful presentation!

  6. I have the original Moosewood cookbook, which I haven't looked at in years. There are some good recipes in it - I need to dig it out. Anyway, this looks terrific - thanks so much.

  7. I've never eaten tofu before but now you've just made me crave them.

  8. Although I have all of the Vegetarian Epicure cookbooks and they are my most loved and most used of all of my cookbooks, I have never owned one of the Moosewood cookbooks and I always regretted not having them. Now I must. These look outrageously delicious! I love peanut sauce. And I certainly should be eating tofu more often. A gorgeous recipe, Lisa.

  9. Sounds so delicious! Ben's been craving Thai since his favorite restaurant went out!

  10. we used to called it satay tofu in Indonesia, never try the grilled version since we used to deep fried the skewer here....

  11. Tofu is a flavorless, pretty boring substance. But you did an excellent job in giving it a silky, smooth, velvety make-over :)

    Exquisite indeed :)
    Following your recipes.

  12. This is just delightful looking!! I love ANYTHING that involves a good peanut sauce! Nice job, Lisa!

  13. I've been cooking out of this cookbook a lot recently and haven't made these kabobs yet! That peanut sauce sounds pretty perfect.

  14. Rica salsa una gran combinación,abrazos.

  15. i'm still not quite sold on tofu, but that sauce sounds incredible.

  16. I have to admit, I have been known to "drink" peanut sauce.
    When it's that good, you know?
    Not a fan of the tofu but I would not pass this up. No way.
    This looks so good Lisa!

  17. these are wonderful! i just love peanut sauce and the tofukabobs are so clever!

  18. Definitely interested in the peanut sauce due to the sesame oil. Haven't done that before. Have you ever used the sweet soy sauce in a peanut sauce? It's good too.

    1. I've used sweet soy sauce in another tofu dish oddly enough, but I've never used it in peanut sauce. I'll have to try it!

  19. Tofukabobs?! I love that name. Like a lot! This looks incredible. I'm very jealous that they are inside my screen and not inside my tummy :(

  20. This looks like the perfect crowd pleaser, even when not every body sticks to a vegetarian diet!
    Love the combination of spiced Tofu with Peanut butter.

  21. What an interesting twist! This looks so delicious!


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