Smoked Tofu "Riblets" with Jalapeno Blackberry BBQ Sauce
Are you guys ready for the "big time?" This recipe is crazy AH-MAZ-ING! Not only does this tofu taste freaking great, but it actually looks like riblets when you are ready to dig in (I swear the photo below is 100% tofu, not pork)! One of my favorite things about this blog is that I get to experiment with my "old" way of eating and merge it with my vegan way of eating. My goal is to show you that all of the food options you had before, you can still have (or mimic) while being vegan. An "old" way of eating that I LOVED and needed in my life? Smoked items. The smell, the taste - salivation!
The hard truth bomb to myself; there is no Sustainability Spotlight on this recipe because yes, I know the method of smoking my food is not sustainable (nor really healthy for me), I get it. I will say that the smoking method is definitely my food vice (one of those things that I know is just plain "bad" for me and the environment) but I lay the accountability out for myself - I know that I have made a choice to do it anyways; isn't that the definition of having a vice? I will say that we only do it once (maybe twice) a year. I'm okay with that limitation and will loosely equate making the limitation on how often we smoke as the sustainable choice on this vice.
A few recipe acknowledgements before you wade too far into the waters on this one; a) there is plenty of prep work to be done here and there are 4 total steps (create BBQ sauce, marinate, smoke, and then reverse sear your tofu); b) it is time consuming in total, but the total time you are "active" is low; c) it requires that you have a smoker at your disposal; d) you must plan on this recipe (it's not a "throw together" / last minute idea). I made these for the long Memorial Day holiday and jumped onto my husband's desire to smoke some food for himself (he eats vegan food, but I subscribe to "my body, my choice" - his choice was for meat that day; my choice was for making tofu to rival his meat; I think I just about accomplished that - no, really!).
Game Plan Timeline - because you really need one for this recipe to be successful:
2 nights before running your smoker:
Press tofu block (Time: preferred overnight in tofu press, but you can go with 30 min on counter the night before running your smoker while you make the BBQ Sauce)
Night before running your smoker:
Make & cool BBQ sauce (Time: 30 min to simmer; 10 min to cool; 1 min to blend)
Coat & marinate your tofu riblets in your BBQ sauce (Time: Overnight Marinade)
Day of running your smoker:
Take tofu out of fridge, remove from marinade & lay flat in smoker / grill pan (Time: at least 30 min prior to smoking (take the "chill" off your tofu).
Smoke Tofu (Time: at least 1 hr)
Reverse Sear Tofu (Time: 7-9 min)
Alright? HERE WE GO!
Jalapeno Blackberry BBQ Sauce:
1/4 cup vegetable broth (or stock - whichever you have open)
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 lime (juiced)
1 pint fresh blackberries
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
4-5 garlic cloves (chopped)
1/2 jalapeno chopped (with seeds)
1/4 cup red onion (chopped)
1 tsp each of the following seasonings:
chipotle chili powder
finely ground coffee
2 tsp arrowroot powder
1 block extra firm tofu; pressed, drained & cut into "riblets" (strips about 1 inch wide & 1/2 inch thick)
avocado oil (for searing)
Add all ingredients in the "Jalapeno Blackberry BBQ Sauce" above except arrowroot powder to a medium sauce pan. Heat over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer sauce uncovered for ~30 minutes. Stirring occasionally and "mashing" blackberries slightly when they start to soften (~10-15 minutes into the simmer time).
Add arrowroot powder and simmer another 4-5 minutes (sauce will thicken slightly, but will not be able to coat back of spoon yet - This is correct. The sauce "thickens in Step #5 below).
Pour BBQ sauce (caution! very hot!) carefully into a large high powered blender; leave uncovered in the blender for ~10-15 minutes to cool slightly.
Now, blend on high until smooth & thickened (Optional - strain your BBQ sauce as desired - I didn't; I like texture, but some folks do not like the "grit" of coffee granules; if you are that person - strain!)
Next, in a shallow dish (with lid), add riblets in a single layer; pour 1/2 sauce on riblets. Add next layer of riblets and pour remaining sauce. Ensure all riblets are coated in sauce, cover dish, and marinate overnight.
Next day, start your smoker and take out your tofu from the fridge. Lay riblets in a single layer on a flat grill pan and let sit at room temperature ~30 minutes to warm up slightly.
Once the smoker reaches at least 250 degrees F and the smoke "runs clear" (i.e. - white vs. black or gray), slide your grill pan into the smoker and smoke the tofu for ~1 hour (try and keep the temp above 250 but below 280).
When the tofu is smoked sufficiently (it will not be "firm" to the touch or fully cooked at this stage; just will have a nice smoke flavor & the sauce will have "dried" a bit on your tofu), heat a large cast iron pan over medium high heat.
Swirl avocado oil (enough to coat bottom of pan well) and once it shimmers, add the tofu riblets (carefully - they are not firm) to the pan using tongs. Flip the tofu every 2 minutes or so until you have a nice brown sear on each side and they appear to have crisped up (tofu should be firm now it is fully cooked).
Squeeze another lime over all riblets and serve hot with my Duo Coleslaw with Chia Seeds
Yep, told you, this one is involved - But, it's so delicious! Also, (because I was), I'll ask you to be honest with yourself, this recipe is not any more involved than smoking meat! The same (or similar) steps are taken to smoke meat as this tofu. Next time you run your smoker, maybe give these tofu riblets the time / effort of the meat and you just might become a vegan believer! = )
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie