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Grilled Orange Teriyaki Tofu Skewers with Aromatic Coconut Rice

Posted Aug 01 2013 4:45pm


Back in January, I bought a jar of coconut oil from Trader Joes. Not for culinary use, but rather to smear it all over my skin, hoping to heal the dry winter's itch. I had read somewhere that using coconut oil in the shower, slathering it on your skin, was likely to give some relief to dry skin. I had even heard that it makes for an excellent shaving cream. Excited to give it a go, I immediately turned on the shower and grabbed my jar of 'expensive' coconut oil. I unscrewed the lid, scooped a handful of this oil and slathered it on my legs. The shower promptly turned into a slippery mess, a death trap really. There was coconut oil everywhere, and my body was now covered in a thick layer of oil, albeit I did smell nice, like a macaroon or an almond joy. There was no way of removing the oil, not even with three scrubs of soap. Holding on for dear life, I managed to get out of the shower, still covered in a layer of oil. I grabbed the towel, and was able to get most of it off, but not all. I retired the jar to the cupboard, and it has mostly just sat there for the last 7 months, mocking me. 'Coconut oil, delicious for cooking, dangerous for showering' is what needs to be printed on the label, right beside organic, cold-pressed, unrefined, gluten-free, vegan, and caveman appropriate.


It wasn't until I spotted a recipe for  Laura's sticky teriyaki eggplant, and herbed cashew coconut rice , that I began to let my distrust for coconut oil go. Immediately drawn to the summery-ness of this recipe, and meeting my must-use-grill-whenever-possible requirements, I began brainstorming a sweet version of my own. I've been confronted with a few 'blast from the past moments' lately, starting with a crab stuffed sole dining experience at a restaurant, where the decor hadn't changed since the 90's. A recent read from a BonAppétit article on the trendiest vegetables of the past 44 years , I was temporally brought back to a time, not to long ago, when beet and goat cheese salads were an exotic twist on the more tradition garden or caesar. The popularity of sun dried tomatoes in the 90's, and putting them on, and in, everything Italian related. When it was though that steamed asparagus was the absolute and total classy veg. When we discovered that you could grill a portobello, put on it on bun and call it a veggie burger. Also, totally non-food related, but this read will really stir up some nostalgic memories - best toys from the 80's . In the theme of trendy food items that have lost there appeal, what about skewers? There was a period, I remember it clearly, when you would show up at a barbecue, the kids would be eating burgers, and the classy folk eating skewers. What happened to those days? 

Today we're bringing back the skewer and all of there glory. Sweet caramelized pineapple, crunchy grilled peppers and onions. Sweet and savory tofu, grilled to perfection with an artistic display of char marks. I came up with a sweet orange marinade, a collection of a few of my favorite sauces, hoisin, soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, garlic and ginger. I like to press my tofu for a few hours or overnight before marinating. This ensures that you have removed most of the water from the tofu and there is now room to soak up all of the savory flavors. Marinating them for a few hours, is sufficient time. I like the combination of onion, red peppers, and pineapple for the skewers, because it brings me back to the days in Thailand when I lived off of sweet and sour tofu and rice for months, but you can use any combination of vegetables. And then we get to grill, the fun part, because grilling always includes a little bit of sun and cold bevvies.

And that sweet sweet dangerous coconut oil. It is absolutely delicious and wonderful, and can transform rice into a flavorful aromatic wondrous creation. 1 - 2 tbsp into the rice cooker, and that's all it takes to add a slight subtlety to the taste, and a smell that floods the body with memories of vacation, beaches, and fresh grilled seafood. Brent, who is not a big fan of rice, ate a large bowl with a smile on his face, and told me that 'all rice should taste like this'. 
I would also like to take a moment here, before I go stuff my face with a bowl of coconut rice, to give a shout-out to the people at  New West KnifeWorks  for sending me this gorgeous  santoku chef knife . They've helped me rekindle me love of chopping veg, and I am proud to admit that I no longer need to bust out the serrated bread knife to slice a tomato. I have literally cut the amount time spent chopping in half {haha, pun!} This knife is gorgeous, the material used for the handle is harvested in Vermont using only sustainably harvested hardwoods. It's sharp, beautiful, and I am so in love with it. With the amount of chopping I do around here, I am shocked that it took me this long to get a beaut like this. If you head on over the the  New West KnifeWorks website , you can register for a chance to win a chef knife, or to their  facebook page  for a chance to win a 4 piece knife set! 

print ORANGE TERIYAKI TOFU SKEWERS WITH COCNUT RICEmakes 7 skewers and 2 cups of rice
notes: You will need to prepare the marinade and soak the tofu for at least 2 hours before you grill them. If you press the tofu beforehand, possibly overnight or for a few hours, the marinade will better absorb into the tiny tofu pores. Make sure to purchase firm tofu, and not firm silken tofu - which is to soft for the grill. I chose to use onion, red pepper, and pineapple for the skewers, but you can use any veg you prefer. 
TOFU SKEWERS
1 lb firm tofu, pressed and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 orange, juice + zest
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp mirin
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1/2 pineapple, cubed
1/2 onion, cubed
1 red pepper, cubed
olive oil for brushing

COCONUT RICE
1 cup dry basmati or jasmine rice
1 tbsp coconut oil
sliced scallions or chives
1 tbsp sesame seeds

While you prepare the marinade, remove as much water as possible from the tofu by pressing it with something heavy on top ex. frying pan. The more water you remove from the tofu, the more flavors it will absorb. Cut the tofu into one inch cubes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the juice from one orange and its zest, soy sauce, sesame oil, mirin, hoisin sauce, garlic, and ginger. Place the tofu cubes into the marinade, and toss. Cover and place into the fridge for 2 hours, giving the tofu a stir every half an hour to evenly distribute the marinade.

As soon as you are ready to remove the tofu from the fridge, place 1 cup of rice into the bowl of a rice cooker. Was the rice. swirling it through your fingers. Drain the water, and then repeat a few times. Add 1 tbsp of coconut oil, and 1 3/4 cups of water to the rice. Cook until done. Add the chopped scallions or chives, and sprinkle in the sesame seeds.

Remove the tofu from the fridge, and thread the skewers with onion, pineapple, red pepper, and the tofu. It does not matter which order you thread the skewers. Save the leftover marinade. Brush the skewers will olive oil.

Turn the grill to low. Place the skewers onto the grill. Rotate the skewers often to prevent burning. Every few minutes, brush the skewers with the leftover marinade. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the onions are cooked, and you have beautiful char marks on the tofu.

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