Monday 24 January 2011

BBQ tofu like an Aussie flood

Blame Hannah! She posted the gorgeous raw brownie recipe that made me buy a ripe avocado. But it had to be stored in the freezer and there was no room. So I had to rethink my avocado plans. I decided it would go well in salad. This gave me the excuse to use the spice rub I recently bought. Meant for red meat, mine was destined for tofu. A Vegan Dad's bbq tofu and a last minute decision to serve it on rice noodles. An excellent dinner! Thanks Hannah!

I bought this Australian bush spice mix at King and Godfreys because I liked the range of spices and was able to find one with wattleseed and no lemon myrtle. I have a few spice mixes that don't get used so I am fussy about which ones I buy. And I loved the packaging! Only after I bought it did I read the label closely enough to see it is the red meat spice mix. Not for me!

I searched the web for ideas for using a spice rub on tofu and found Vegan Dad's bbq tofu, which had both a spice mix and a sauce. I am not keen on bbq sauce. It always strikes me as too sweet and too strong. Yet when I tasted Toby's ultimate bbq tofu at the potluck last year, I began to see possibilities.

The recipe required rubbing on a spice mix and leaving it for at least 30 minutes, frying the tofu and then cooking it in a sauce. The sauce starts off like the recent floods across our nation and ends up like the cracked and dry desert. It reminded me of Dorothea McKellar's "droughts and flooding rains" that has been quote so much lately with Australia's extreme weather patterns. Time for a rant, methinks!

I have heard a few negative references to Dorothea McKellar as though she is to blame for the floods. Rather, her poem expresses pride in the might and majesty of our "wide brown land" rather than the genteel "green and shaded lanes" of England. She tells us that drought and floods are the downside of our beaches and sunshine. She embraces both the good with the bad.

No one can deny that the floods have had a huge impact on Australia. One of my organisation's offices was flooded so the new girl who started last week came to Melbourne to meet staff here while they sort out her office. I am glad that a submerged office was the worst of the physical damage to those I know in Brisbane but it sounds like their lives have all been rather unsettled as a result of the floods.

I was also shocked on Friday to hear responses when the Prime Minister raised the prospect of a flood levy to help those affected. People were ringing talkback radio to suggest we stopped international aid and used the money for flood recovery. Hang on a sec! What about all the corporate salaries and bonuses! What about the millions paid to superstars to visit Australia! What about the ridiculous amount that public relations companies are paid to woo and impress! When I got to work I was heartened to see an email about a conference where the organisers had decided to donate to a flood charity rather than give presents to the keynote speakers. This is the sort of gesture that we need. Rant over!

Back to dinner, it was just right. The tofu could have been a tad more crispy but it was so full of wonderful nicely-balance flavours that it didn't matter. The salad on the side was fresh and perky. The last minute decision on the rice noodles was a stroke of genius and gave the meal a nice fusion touch, which Australia is so good at.

I was pleased that I could get away with tomato paste instead of dead horse (yes I mean the goo that we call tomato sauce and Americans call ketchup). I was most displeased (hell hath no fury and all that) to find that E had used up the last of my vegetarian Worcestershire sauce and not put it on the shopping list. Tamari with a touch of tamarind paste and molasses did the trick! Maybe I will never need to buy veg Worcestershire sauce again now I have discovered this is a good substitute. The spice rub flavours weren't very prominent but I am sure they added to the mix.

I cooked mine on a large frying pan but in an ideal world (as Toby has proved) it would be cooked on a barbecue with charred edges. I wish I was brave enough to use public barbecues in parks but I always am a bit suspicious about who has been there before me - and it is not our sort of thing anyway. If you are looking for an excellent vegetarian (or vegan) Australia Day (aka Invasion Day) bbq idea, this is it! You might even hold a bbq for the floods.

I am sending this bbq tofu to Simone of Bricole who is hosting My Legume Love Affair #31, the legume-centered food blog event that is the brainchild of Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Novelty Cakes from the Archives II
This time two years ago: NCR How My Chowder Fed the Dalek!
This time three years ago: Gorgeous Grubs

Aussie bbq tofu with rice noodles and carrot salad
Adapted from Vegan Dad
serves 2

200g firm tofu, cut into 0.5cm slices
2-4 tsp canola oil
70g vermicelli rice noodles

Spice rub:
2 tsp aussie spice rub (maybe even a bit more next time)
1/2 tsp onion granules
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder

BBQ sauce:
1 tsp olive oil
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp tamarind paste
1/4 tsp molasses
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp seeded mustard
1/2 tsp chilli paste
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup water

2 carrot, grated
1 avocado, chopped
50g semi-sundried tomatoes, chopped
juice of about 1/2 a lemon, or to taste

Mix spices rub ingredients and rub over tofu. Set aside for at least 30 minutes.

While tofu is soaking up the rub, make the bbq sauce. Fry the onions and garlic in the oil until nicely browned. Place remaining ingredients in a medium bowl and add onions when they are cooked. Mix well.

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a large heavy based frypan (I used the one that I fried the onions in) and cook tofu over medium heat for a few minutes until browned on one side. Add another 1-2 tablespoons of oil when you flip the tofu over and cook for another few minutes. Pour in sauce (it will look like there is more than enough) and let it bubble away on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes until the sauce has become a thick glaze.

While the sauce simmers, make the salad by mixing all ingredients. Prepare the rice noodles by soaking in boiling water for 5 minutes and draining.

Place noodles on a plate, arrange tofu slices and an extra glaze on the noodles. Spoon some salad onto the side and serve.

On the stereo:
Mondo Exotica: Various Artists


  1. *laughs* I couldn't have been prouder if you'd actually made the raw brownies! This really does look tremendous, and I'm in love with your ingenuity with regards to the tamari/tamarind/molasses sub. I do love Worcestershire, but I also love tamari, tamarind, and molasses.

    Now what's the bet I buy an avocado to make this and end up using it in a dessert instead? ;)

  2. Strange, all these things we have in our store cupboard and don't think of combining. I shall have to try your tamarind, tamari and molasses combination. Off to check out avacado brownies?

  3. That looks great Johanna. I do adore tofu!

    Tamari, tamarind and molasses sound like a great combo.

  4. OMG!!! How I miss wattleseed and lemon myrtle! Looks lovely ;0)

  5. Thanks Hannah - hope to send some avocado inspiration back your way! I confess I tried the brownies tonight but don't think I got it quite right so will need to try again :-(

    Thanks Choclette - I never use my tamarind paste so maybe this is away to use it up

    Thanks Helen - tofu is wonderful!

    Thanks Chele - I am not so into lemon myrtle but I love wattleseed - though it is even hard to find in Australia

  6. A really interesting post, Johanna, especially the part where you talk about the floods. I certainly hope that the situation improves quickly for all the people affected. I followed your path as you adjusted to various unexpected circumstances to make a great meal. I now need to find out more about wattleseed. Thank you so much for participating in MLLA!

  7. Glad to hear that you and yours were safe from the floods, but how awful for those in the middle of it. Your tofu looks great--reminds me that I still have some of those amazing spices you sent and could perhps use them that way!

  8. I love the idea of using a spice rub on tofu! I've been searching everywhere for vegan worcestershire sauce. I just got some, but wish I had read this post before. :)


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