Post image for Ode to Grilled Tofu

Ode to Grilled Tofu

by Sherri Koehler on June 13, 2011

There’s quite a few things that I never even consider posting a recipe for. It is easy to forget that things I consider “obvious” about cooking are mysterious to someone who is new to cooking.

Case in point: Grilled Tofu

I love grilled tofu and it is one of the go-to methods I use for cooking tofu. It is such a staple dish for me that I don’t even think of it terms of “recipe”. In the wet, cold months in Portland (which is to say, much of the year), I use my trusty Lodge cast-iron grill pan, but in summer months you’ll find me out on the deck seeing just how many different veggies I can grill alongside slices of tofu.

I prefer to use the extra firm, preferably vacuum packed, type of tofu for grilling or baking. These look like bricks of tofu in plastic with very little water; found in the refrigerator section along-side water packed tofu. The texture is extra-dense, has been pressed already, and gets very chewy after a good grilling. These pieces make for a great sandwich since they don’t fall apart easily. The extra or super-firm varieties packed in water work well too. The aseptic packed, silken-style tofu does not work with this method, save it for making custards.

The Stuff

  • 6-8oz extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/4″ slices
  • spray canola oil, suitable for high heat
  • 1/4 c Sauce for glazing, option (Vegetarian Hoisin, BBQ sauce, Miso Glaze, Sweet Chili Sauce, etc.
  • and/or Some spices for a dry crust, optional (garlic pepper, lemon pepper, Szechwan Seasoning, Garam Masala, etc.)
    and…. if you’re making dinner…
  • A whole pile of your favorite, seasonal veggies all sliced up for grilling or stir-frying

The Making

If you’re cooking indoors on the grill pan you’ll want to let it heat up for a few minutes before turning the heat down to medium-low. If using a BBQ grill, get it heated up so the grill itself is hot. I use a gas BBQ, so this only takes a few minutes. If you’re using a charcoal grill, you’ll want to let the coals settle down to a nice glow (although I’m sure there’s any number of websites with suggestions on the right method for grilling veggies and/or tofu over charcoal).

Lightly spray the grill surface with canola oil. Spread out the sliced tofu evenly across the grill surface. If you’re using your BBQ you’ll be able to multitask here and get some veggies going.

Let the tofu get a nice sear on the grill surface, cooking for 5-7 minutes. The top layer will start to look a little dry and the edges may be starting to brown or even char slightly (if on the BBQ). Spray tops lightly with oil before flipping over to cook on the other side. If you are applying a dry crust of spices sprinkle them over the tofu after spraying tofu with oil, spray with a little more oil, then flip.

While the second side grills for 5-7 minutes, use a high-heat basting brush to apply a light coat of glaze over the tofu. If you are using a dry crust of spices you will spritz the grilled tofu with oil again and sprinkle spices evenly over the top.

After the tofu has grilled on the second side, turn your heat down to low or lower the flame of your gas BBQ. If you’re using charcoal, you will just need to watch carefully. You will flip over the glazed sizes again so the glaze caramelizes on the surface or the dry crust of spices browns.

Grill the glazed side down for only a couple of minutes (2-3 max) while you apply glaze or spice crust to the second, now-dry size. Flip one more time so the glaze or spice crust is grilled on both sides before removing from the grill and served with a pile of your favorite veggies.

If you make up a pile of grilled tofu it will keep in the fridge for several days. These slices make for a great sandwich.

The recipe above shows me using an Asian BBQ sauce I’ve been testing for The Blissful Chef (a.k.a. Christy Morgan) for a book she’s working on of SE Asian recipes. In the test recipe the sauce was paired with tempeh “meat”balls. We had plenty of sauce leftover after testing the recipe and it kept very well in the fridge. It was an awesome glaze for the grilled tofu, carrot (yes, grilled carrot… tasty) and a pile of grilled daikon (oh yes, delicious) I made the next day.

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