Vegetarians, I’m sorry. We tried. Really, we did.
Nights like this are precisely why there is a “failure” category.
Thank god we decided to test-run the vegetarian Smoke-a-Thon option ahead of time, smoked tofu kebabs with kung pao sauce. We honestly thought it would be good, and thought we were just checking on texture and sturdiness: what happens to extra-firm tofu when you smoke it, cut into into cubes, skewer it with onions, peppers and pineapple, cover it in sauce and throw it back on the grill? Does it disintegrate? Burst into flames? Melt onto the grill? Sprout little tofu legs and run away? I was fully prepared for any of the above to happen.
Apparently, as we see above, when you do the initial smoking it turns into oddly square pieces of halibut.
Meaning the tofu did stay together post-smoke, and we brought it upstairs to skewer it and throw together the kung pao sauce.
We used Martin Yan’s recipe, because that kung pao chicken was the dish that single-handedly changed my blanket rejection of tofu. My past run-ins with tofu had been…less than positive. And then Yan Can Make Me Like Tofu, so much so that Brian and I both agreed that we could have done without the chicken in the kung pao and just gone with the veg and tofu. It was, frankly, a small step for Martin Yan but a giant step for Michelle-kind.
Because I really, really hated tofu.
The square halibut appearance did weird me out a little, as did the texture – kinda like highly compressed feta.
Feta? Something else I don’t really like. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
I’m not gonna lie, I became dubious of this whole enterprise while cubing the tofu and probing its texture, but I thought after the tasty sauce, grill marks, smoke, and a couple of beers (Leinenkugel Berry Weiss! It’s like beer juice, except the alcohol content is no lower than regular beer. Meaning: DANGEROUS. I haven’t consumed a beer that fast since 1998.), it would be good. The heat and the sauce would make charry, caramelized glaze! It would be smoky and crusty and delicious.
And, of course, there’s Martin Yan AKA The Man Who Taught Me To Trust.
Brian turned the grill from “smoke” to “grill,” laid the kebabs down and basted them with the kung pao sauce, which it instantly absorbed, nixing the whole “charry glaze” thing.
It initially smelled good when a sizzling sauce hit the grill. And then it start to smell bad. Really bad. Dog fart bad. For those of you who are not lucky enough to live with gassy dogs: they can clear a 25 x 50 room in under 7 seconds. (Making it an extra-good idea that I fed them leftover smoked tofu cubes as “treats.”)
But then it started to smell good! Sizzling peppers, charring onions, caramelizing pineapple.
Then it stopped smelling like anything, and just looked like flaccid flubber cubes sandwiched between grilled vegetables. And then I learned the valuable lesson that I only like tofu when it’s coated in corn starch, deep fried and coated in delicious sauce.
No one wants to dwell on failure, so I’ll just say that we will not be serving these on Memorial Day because I don’t want them on my conscience.