Whenever I travel where I’m going to eat is as important for me to figure out as what I’m going to do or see. Business trips are no exception. While to some they’re just a way to see clients and rack up some frequent flyer miles (Okay, I like that as well.) for me they’re also a chance to try food all over the country.
Recently I was in Phoenix for business and dined at a lovely Asian tapas & sake bar called Sens. I found myself immediately smitten with the range of flavors on the menu, especially when served up as small plates. I love this because even as a lone diner I was able to try a couple of different things without breaking the bank or getting too stuffed. From their Ginger Mint Duck Salad to the classic Papaya Mango Spring Rolls, everything was delicious, especially when paired with the complementary tastes of their cocktails the bartender kept passing my way. But the standout dish for me was their Pineapple-Ginger Tofu. The tofu had been marinated and then fried with a light tempura batter. Paired with a spicy dipping sauce, it was pretty addictive. Texturally it was also amazing. The crunch of the crust against the soft interior was so lovely. My immediate reaction was not that different from most food bloggers. I knew I was going to replicate it at home.
This week seemed like the perfect week to do so as I found myself with a strong craving for tofu. However this dish is more inspired by rather than a perfect replication of the original. Rather than deep frying my tofu, I decided to nix this technique and grill instead. I’m not going to lie, I REALLY wanted to deep fry. However, I also happened to try on some of my fall clothes this week and finding them a bit snug, thought better of it. Clearly all the goat cheese brownies, fried zucchini blossoms, and grilled cheese have caught up to me.
It’s no matter because even without the oil and batter this recipe shines. Pineapple juice and ginger give it a fruity and spicy flare, with a very subtle caramel flavor from the brown sugar. Pair it with the Edamame Salad and you get some nice crunch to balance out the more chewy tofu. All and all it makes for a great late summer dish.
For the tofu:
-1 14-ounce package firm or extra firm tofu, drained
-1/4 cup pineapple juice
-2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
-1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
-1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
-2 teaspoons canola oil
-1 teaspoon minced garlic
-1 pinch red pepper flakes, or to taste
-2 teaspoons brown sugar
-Cooking spray or canola oil, for greasing grill
For the salad:
-1 cup blanched and shelled edamame
-1/4 cup chopped shallots
-1/4 cup small-diced red bell pepper
-1/4 cup small-diced pineapple
-1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
-1 tablespoon canola oil
-1 ½ teaspoons freshly grated ginger
-1 small jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed and minced
-1 tablespoon minced cilantro
-Salt and pepper to taste
Cut tofu into desired shapes. Place tofu slices on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 20 minutes, pressing down occasionally. Mix together all marinade ingredients (pineapple juice through brown sugar) and pour into a Ziploc bag or sealable container. Add tofu and allow it to marinade in the refrigerator for at least one hour or preferably, overnight.
Prepare grill to medium-high heat and coat grill rack with cooking spray or brush on canola oil to prevent the tofu from sticking. Remove tofu and place on the grill, reserving marinade. Grill for 2 minutes on each side until tofu is hot and has nice charred marks. While tofu is cooking, strain any tofu bits out of the marinade and boil in a saucepan until reduced by half.
To prepare salad, stir together all salad ingredients (edamame through salt and pepper) and set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
To serve, drizzle remaining marinade over tofu slices and plate with edamame salad.
As a side bar, thank you for all the votes in the Tastefully Simple recipe contest. I am so flattered and appreciative. Voting is open through Friday so if you haven’t yet, I’d appreciate if you’d vote for me. Just view my video here and mark that you ‘like it.’ Note that if you do not yet have a YouTube account it may prompt you to sign up for one. And yes, I’m a bit, err, awkward on camera. I have to say I have even greater appreciation for how hard it must be on The Next Food Network Star. (So thrilled for Aarti by the way!)