Last updated on December 20th, 2022 at 03:32 pm
Charred cubes of tofu bathed in a sweet and salty dipping sauce, these tofu skewers are a ridiculously simple, completely delicious finger food or meal.
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Since it arrived I have been obsessed with my Lodge 11-inch Cast iron chef's grill. I've seared vegetables served with satay sauce on it, grilled my BBQ vegan black bean burgers (so good!) and I played with grilled peaches and served them with the oatmeal ice-cream from my cookbook. The caramelisation on the peaches was out of this world.
I really like this grill for a few reasons:
- made from cast iron it is sturdy as heck
- it arrived pre-seasoned and ready to use - win!
- the pan itself isn't heavy, and
- it has two handles making it super easy to move about
But what I love best is that I can get those GORGEOUS and tasty grill marks on my food without trudging outside and firing up the BBQ.
I see big things happening for me and my new grill pan over the Winter when it's too cold to fire up anything outside. But today, I am super excited to dive in to some tofu skewers (yakitori-style).
What is Yakitori?
Yakitori is grilled chicken on skewers (Huffpost) - "yaki" meaning "grilled" and "tori" meaning "bird".
However other meats and vegetables are cooked in the style too. Yakitori is traditionally cooked over a flame on a rectangle clay box with a wire grate over the top.
Unlike Western BBQ, the dish doesn't use rubs to infuse flavour. Rather the meat, or in our case tofu, is brushed with a spanking-good soy and rice wine sauce called a "tare" (pronounced tah-re). I suggest making double the sauce recipe so you can dip everything not nailed down in to it. It's that good.
What You'll Need
Tofu. You are going to need a nice firm tofu, anything else will fall of the skewers.
Vegetables. I've kept things simple with red onions and spring onions (scallions) but you can use other vegetables like mushrooms, capsicum (peppers), zucchini slices...the options are endless.
Cooking sake. You can get cooking sake at Asian grocery stores and even some grocery stores. If you can't get it, try Chinese cooking wine.
Mirin. Another type of rice wine, mirin is sweeter than sake. It's also easily found at grocery stores and Asian grocers.
How to Make Tofu Skewers
Making tofu skewers couldn't be simpler.
Step 1. Press the tofu to remove moisture.
Step 2. Spend a whole 7 minutes making one of the best sauces you'll ever try. Step 3. Chop the tofu and some veggies and thread them on to skewers.
Step 4. Place each skewer on your grill or BBQ and watch those gorgeous grill marks appear. While turning the skewers, I brush the tofu and vegetables with THAT dipping sauce. Oh, my goodness the smells!
And that's it. A gorgeous appetiser or main served with steamed rice ready in around 15-minutes.
Besides tofu, you can get creative and make a banquet of skewers. The grilling and dipping sauce is the same. I've made:
- mixed vegetable skewers - think "grilled peppers, onion and zucchini"
- oyster mushroom skewers
Japanese cuisine is known for its perfectly balanced dishes using only the ingredients that serve the finished plate. This tofu yakitori is no exception. It is simply grilled tofu skewers but paired with a 4-ingredient dipping sauce, the tofu rises to a whole other level. Whether cooked on a BBQ or a good quality grill pan, these tofu skewers are healthy, simple and finger licking delicious.
NOTE: The folks at Everten were kind enough to send me the LODGE 11 inch Cast Iron Chef Style Square Grill to try out. A big bear hug coming their way. Like I said, cookware is my guilty pleasure so I was thrilled to add this pan to my collection. Thanks LODGE and Everten!
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If you like this recipe, please check out my cookbook. Great Vegan Meals for the Carnivorous Family is full of simple, carnivore-approved family recipes.
Simple Tofu Skewers
- BBQ or grill pan
- bamboo skewers soaked in water for 1 hour
For the Tofu Skewers
- 400 grams firm tofu organic if possible, pressed well
- 3 scallions / spring onions whites only, cut in to ½ inch batons
- ½ red onion peeled and sliced in to 6-8 wedges
For the Tare
- 3 tbsp cooking sake or Chinese rice wine
- 90 ml soy sauce
- 3 tablespoon mirin
- ½ tsp raw sugar
- Place the tofu on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Place another sheet of paper over the tofu and place a heavy object - I use a pan - on top. Leave it to sit for at least an hour to drain. Meanwhile, place your bamboo or wooden skewers in water to soak for 1 hour.
For the sauce
- To make the sauce, put all the tare ingredients in a saucepan over low to medium heat. Allow the mixture to come up to a simmer, stirring frequently, and cook for around 7 minutes. Make sure the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside.
For the tofu
- Drain the bamboo skewers ready to make the skewers. To assemble the skewers, take the drained tofu and cut it lengthways 3 times to create 4 long batons. Take each thick baton and turn it on its side to cut it in half lengthways again. Finally, cut each thinner baton in to three shorter lengths
- Skewer a tofu baton lengthways pushing it down the skewer. Follow with a scallion baton or an onion wedge before adding another tofu baton and another vegetable if there is room. Repeat with the remaining tofu and vegetables.
- Brush the tofu and vegetables with a little vegetable oil and heat the grill pan over medium heat.
- When hot add the tofu skewers and cook for around 3 minutes on each side - try to not move the skewers while you are cooking to get those great grill marks. While cooking, brush the tofu and vegetables with the dipping sauce.
- When all sides are cooked, remove them from the heat and pop the on a plate to serve. Brush each skewer liberally with the dipping sauce and pour the remaining sauce in to a small bowl to serve.
"Tofu yakitori" is incorrect Skewered grilled items are more properly called "kushiyaki' (kushi = skewer, yaki = grilled). Tofu kushiyaki' is what you are making.
Well, thanks for that. All my research indicated it was "yakitori" but I am happy to learn something new. Thanks Goober.