Finding Inspiration (Tofu Skewers with Kalbi inspired marinade, Vegan, GF)
Inspiration is a fickle mistress. One that comes and goes as she pleases and leaves me craving the ease of creation in her presence. I create anyway of course, awaiting a fickle mistress is not a way to live a creative life. And the funny thing is, the more I create the more inspiration seems to appear. In the way the sun catches beets in the farmers market or the story of an author’s favorite dish growing up.
When I struggle with my own self care and mental health I find myself wondering if people want to hear my story. If people need to know how I got here, and what I have to say. But inspiration finds me regardless of how ready I am to share. And I’ve got to be real, those moments of inspiration are difficult not to share with the world.
Not all inspiration for the dishes I create come from plant-based creators. I find inspiration in the words and dishes of other creators who may not believe what I do. I read any cookbook, not just the plant-based ones, I follow chefs from all walks of life on Instagram. I read magazines like Bon Appetite and trade journals. I watch cooking shows and competitions. In perfect fashion I binged The Chef Show on Netflix and was captivated by the food and conversation. I loved the simple sauces and recipes chef Roy Choi created like the Kalbi (Korean BBQ short ribs).
I didn’t want the meat of course but the taste of that beautiful green marinade. Brought together in minutes I knew I had to make it myself. None of the recipes for this show are available online so I had to create the marinade recipe by eye.
These skewers are not authentic of any culture or land. They are more authentic to myself and the beautiful early summer produce I got at the farmer’s market. Chef Choi added kiwi to his marinade.
But getting a ripe kiwi in Western NY is a challenge and I don’t particularly like kiwi. (Maybe because I haven’t tasted a good one). So, I added a little lime juice instead.
Make this recipe your own. Add a kiwi back into the marinade in place of the lime juice. If you are allergic to soy or choose not to eat it, substitute with chickpea tempeh. Fold some of the marinade into your own homemade seitan. Maybe you want to use all this marinade to coat gorgeous produce from your garden or farmers market. It’s up to you. Remember, inspiration can come from anywhere.
You can find Tamari, mirin and sesame oil at most well stocked grocery stores or Asian grocery stores.
Tofu Skewers (Inspired by The Chef Show)
½ C Soy sauce or tamari if GF
½ C Orange juice
3-4 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp mirin (sweetened Japanese wine)
1 small bunch scallions
¼ medium onion, peeled
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp evaporated cane sugar
5 cloves of garlic
1 14 oz container of super firm or extra-firm tofu
3-4 baby zucchini or 2 large zucchini
¾ medium onion, peeled and cut into chunks
3 small bell peppers or 1-2 large bell peppers
1. Place wooden skewers into cold water to soak (this prevents burning) if using. I used metal skewers.
2. First drain the tofu and get ready to press it. To press tofu take a towel or paper towel and put that on a plate. Then place the tofu on the towel and wrap or place another towel on top. Take another plate and place that on top of the tofu before weighing it down with something like a can of tomatoes or beans. Leave it alone for 10-15 minutes. There shouldn’t be too much water in it compared with other kinds of tofu.
3. While the tofu is being pressed make the marinade by placing all the ingredients into a blender and blend until completely smooth.
4. Remove the tofu and cut into 1 ½ to 2 inch chunks and place them in a bowl. Cover the tofu with the marinade and set it aside for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.
5. While the tofu is marinating, prepared your vegetables. Cut your vegetables into thick bite sized pieces that won’t fall of the skewer. Because tofu is a ready to eat product I went ahead and steamed my vegetables for around 2 to 3 minutes before hand to soften them just a little, but this is totally optional.
6. Heat a grill pan or turn on your grill on medium heat.
7. When you are ready to assemble your kebabs get your skewers out of the water if you were soaking them and begin layering the tofu and vegetables, alternating as you see fit. I like to make sure I evenly distribute all the color of the vegetables evenly to make it more appealing to look at, but that’s just me. This is a great project for some older children as well.
8. Once everything is skewered get ready to grill! Tofu, unlike most meat, doesn’t have any fat so it’s a good idea to take a towel with a little oil on it and with a pair of tongs, CAREFULLY, coat the grates of the grill. If you’re worried about a gas grill or flame grill feel free to put a little aluminum foil onto the grill before cooking, coating that with oil instead.
9. Place the skewers onto the grill pan or grill and cook evenly on all four sides, turning after about 3 minutes. Sometimes the tofu may stick, that’s okay. If you feel it sticking, don’t force it off, instead grab a metal or heat prove spatula and gently but quickly swipe it under the stuck tofu.
10. Serve over rice with more of the leftover marinade.
If you don’t want to grill these skewers that’s totally fine! Skip the skewers and place everything on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in a 375 degree oven until all of the veggies are tender and have a great golden color. You can also cook these vegetables and tofu in a pan on medium heat until the veggies are tender and everything is golden.