The Great Tofu Battle: A Photo Essay

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After getting harassed on a daily basis by my friend and ex-coworker Lauren, I finally bit the bullet and decided to tackle a formidable culinary foe—TOFU (which, let’s be honest, stands for “Too Fugly”)  Words alone cannot sufficiently express the unique experience that transpired. So let’s go on a little visual journey, shall we?

The Opponents Meet on the Battlefield
asian battle
First, just look at the stuff. It looks like something you should be using to clean with, not cook and eat! To make matters worse, when I hacked my way into the obviously child-proof container, I had no idea it was packed in its own creepy TO-Fluid, so of course I got covered in it. Beee-arf.

Giving in completely to a full-body shudder, I called my kitchen’s Asian Contingent in for battle: Everything from soy sauce to srihacha, from Chinese black vinegar to wasabi powder…all reported for duty. Together we surrounded the pallid, quivering mass of tofu…a veritable VOID of flavor. And then the battle began.


The Skillet Sortie

tofu, browned
Guided by tips from MyRecipes.com, I decided to marinate the tofu. But the recipes said I had to toast it first. Huh? Why the extra step? But after I poked at the critter and I swear it hissed at me, I figured a little browning would do it some good. So, slice-slice-slice, and into the skillet it went.
Everything seemed to be going smoothly, but then—and I swear I am not exaggerating—the weird little sizzling slices began to talk! Well, not talk, exactly. You know the sounds a happy baby makes? That’s what this tofu was doing…cooing, blubbing, sometimes pooting, sometimes squeaking. Kinda like Gizmo from Gremlins. I got thoroughly freaked out and turned off the pan.

The Marinade Maneuver
tofu marinated
I quieted the creepy critters by plunging them into the marinade. I figured there was enough MSG and acid from all my Asian condiments that nothing could survive, even something so obviously extraterrestrial as tofu. Into the fridge it went to marinate for a couple of hours. As the fridge door closed, I heaved a sigh of relief. It was over, at least for the moment.

The Grill Offensive
tofu, grilled
Just to make sure it was dead, I decided to grill the hell out of the tofu. I wanted to firm it up, make it tough… do anything I could to lend some solid texture to its flabby countenance. So on the grill it went. This actually went really well, until the very end when it decided to stick. I have no idea what happened. I think it just got crabby and decided to mess with me.

Victory or Defeat?

tofu,done
It came off the grill looking palpable. I had reduced the marinade to make a sauce, and had whipped up some green rice and steamed broccoli to help me make it through the meal. The first bite? It was repulsive! Flavor-wise, it tasted great…the Asian Contingent had done its job well. But texture-wise…oh, boy. Think of quiche made only with egg whites. And maybe a little non-flavored Jello. In my mouth it was like squish, squish squish—squiggy, squiggy, squiggy…GULP. Breathe…breathe…breathe….whew. But you know what? I kept on eating. I got accustomed to it. And I even went back for seconds.

When The Battle Resumes…

I will do things differently next time. Oh yeah—there will be a next time. I’m not saying that I’m looking forward to it, but a challenge/experiment is fun every now and then. Next time I’ll try cutting it in smaller pieces and mixing it into a stir fry. It deserves another try. Because while it was OK enough for seconds, it was NOT good enough to save the leftovers. Those went directly into the trash…where they are now probably breeding and plotting to take over the world.

Two More Semi-Related Things:
I wanted to enjoy some edamame with my tofu dinner, but I was afraid I’d spontaneously grow a uterus from all the soy estrogen…LOL. And sorry for all the battle metaphors…we watched “Patton” last night and it obviously made an impact. 😉 Happy Labor Day!

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13 Responses to “The Great Tofu Battle: A Photo Essay”

  1. elizabeth Says:

    I’ve only been able to make tofu stirfry (just for me, the rest of my family won’t touch the stuff), which actually tastes pretty good. The key–slice your tofu a LOT thinner! My other tip you’ve already mastered–drown the stuff in seasoning and sauces.

  2. beth copham Says:

    I am laughing my a*@ off reading this and thinking about the tofu breeding in your garbage can!!!! I think I will leave tofu to you and I’m very grateful my son is allergic to soy so we don’t ever have to eat it in my house.

    • josh Says:

      LOL…it really did seem like self-aware substance. i wouldn’t be surprised if it took over the world some day. 😉

  3. josh Says:

    thinner slices…thank you! that definitely would have made a difference.

  4. SUSU Says:

    VERY INTERESTING!!!…AND YOU’RE SOOOOOOOO FUNNY!!!!…LOVE YOU!!!…THAT STUFF REALLY IS CREEPY!!!…AND POP POP WATCHED PATTON ABOUT A MILLION TIMES!!!!

  5. Jennifer Says:

    Thinner slices will for sure help but it also helps to press it. You can put it between to plates with something heavy on top and that drains it and helps with the texture. And try it with stir fry, some more veggies and stuff over rice or noodles.

  6. Lauren Says:

    I love it!!! Yes, you have to drain and press the tofu first. Smaller pieces also help, but the overall outcome looked delicious. What did David think?

    • Josh Says:

      Lucky for him, he had a medical test the next morning that prevented him from being able to eat. He was like, “Shucks, hate I missed that.” Total sarcasm. 😉

  7. Frances Says:

    Josh, you have such a way with words! Lauren told me about your blog and how she is loving the recipes. Can’t wait to see if she is going to try this one! I’m sitting here laughing and remembering the first and only time I tried cooking with the stuff. Really enjoying the blog…keep ‘um coming!

    • Josh Says:

      Hey there! So good to hear from you…and glad you are liking the site. I think of y’all every time i’m home and pass the old Sno Biz! hope all is well with you!

  8. Laurin Says:

    Hahahaha! I used to have the same reservations about tofu … and I don’t eat it often … but my two favorite ways to eat it are A.) in soup and B.) in Vietnamese summer rolls with plum sauce.

  9. Leigh Says:

    I have NEVER met a tofu I liked. I’d sooner eat a styrofoam peanut. But good on you for trying it out! We were just talking at the table last night about what food we didn’t like. This one tops my list!

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