The second dish I served at the dinner party this last weekend was a tofu satay/shishkabab with peanut sauce. I knew I had a hit with this dish when my friend Tom grabbed the last skewer. Tom is pretty open minded when it comes to most foods (except Korean which he despises for reasons I don't understand), but he has an aversion to "approxi-meats" of most sorts like tofu and tempeh.
Apologies to Hecky's Barbecue for stealing their slogan, but I'm pretty sure "It's the sauce!" Everyone seemed to like the peanut sauce and I plan to incorporate it in other dishes.
I use a paste from a jar of red peppers and vinegar as an ingredient and a dipping sauce. The peppers are spicy, but not "see-through-time" or "hallucinate a Johnny Cash voiced coyote" hot. You could substitute a rehydrated dried arbol or two for the spicy red peppers in vinegar or a crushed piri piri or two.
So what the heck is a shiskasatay? Well, I don't think these are satays, but the sauce is very satay-like. The alternating tofu and peppers seem more shiskbob-like to me. Our friend Sweth suggested they be called "Tofu satay served shishkabob style," but I never pass on a chance for a good neologism. So don't rude me on this name.
Tofu Shiskasatays with Peanut Sauce
3 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
3 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons red peppers in vinegar
2 pounds extra-firm tofu in water (not the aseptic packages)
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch squares
3/4 cup canned coconut milk
1/2 cup natural-style peanut butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
1 tablespoon jarred red peppers in vinegar
Combine all the marinade ingredients together in a large storage container with a tight lid.
Press the water out of your tofu by placing paper towels on a plate, adding the tofu, adding more paper towels then anther plate and a weight for about fifteen minutes. Slice the tofu block into three slabs, then slice each slab into 1" x 1" cubes. Lightly press these in paper towels to remove more water, then drop into the marinade.
It's very important to use tofu that's packed in water and not the other kind. I thought I was completely hopeless with tofu until I stopped buying those aseptic boxes that look like they should contain soap and started using good extra firm non-silken style tofu. The boxed tofu has its place (in smoothies, for example), but this isn't that place.
Marinade tofu for at least an hour and up to eight hours in the refrigerator, shaking gently occasionally to spread marinade around and coat all the tofu pieces.
In a blender, combine all the sauce ingredients together. Blend until smooth.
Soak bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 425 F.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment. This will stop the tofu squares from sticking, which they will do to even a non-stick surface. I don't sauce the skewers before putting them in the oven as the original recipe does, but then, my marinade is a bit sweeter and spicier than the original.
Assemble skewers by impaling tofu and peppers, starting with one cube of tofu, then a pepper, then a tofu cube, then a pepper, then a tofu cube so you have three tofu cubes and one pepper per skewer. Lay the skewer on the cookie sheet and continue until you've used up all the skewer-bait.
Bake in the oven until the tofu is nice and golden brown and the peppers have wilted a bit, about 20 minutes. The original recipe says to let the skewers cool to room temperature before serving, which I think is foolish. Hot is better, but if you must, you can serve them cold.
But do please serve with the peanut sauce and red peppers in vinegar.