Friday, January 11, 2013

Summer dinners: Jamaican Jerk Tofu

* I'm very sorry I don't have a photo of the final product!  I was outside gardening and then all of a sudden we were starving and it was too dark to take any more photos!

I came across Jamaican jerk at a job I worked on once.  We were doing catering for a Chris Brown and Rihanna concert and I guess they decided that seeing how she is from Barbados, she might appreciate something closer to home.  Turns out all she actually wanted to eat was white rice and boiled eggs... but that's another story.  Anyway through out the whole day I could smell this amazing spiced, tangy aroma wafting in through the kitchen.  Cooking in a large commercial oven were huge trays of chicken browning in a mouthwatering marinade.  Eventually I couldn't take it any longer, I blocked out my vegetarianism and had a nibble of a crispy chicken breast and it was all over after that!  Since then Jamaican jerk has become a pretty staple part of our family bbq's at home.

The term jerk basically refers to the technique of marinating and slow roasting/ smoking meat.  You can find out more about its history here.  You can use this method to cook almost anything from meat, fish, vegetables and my personal favourite tofu!  Obviously I can't light a giant pit fire and spend half a day cooking my jerk so I kind of do it my own way.
Here's what you need (oh I should mention that this is totally vegan friendly);
Jerk Marinade
4 garlic cloves
1 onion
1-4 chilli
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2Tbs soy sauce
3Tbs olive oil
1Tbs salt
1Tbs brown sugar
1/2 Tbs thyme
1/2Tbs all spice
1/2Tbs nutmeg
1/2Tbs cinnamon
1/2Tbs ginger (although I prefer to use fresh ginger)
2Tsb black pepper

Throw it all into a kitchen wizz and mix it up until you get a lovely light brown sauce.  Dip your finger in and taste it!  Does it need more salt?  Another sour  lime perhaps? An extra chilli? Feel free to mess with the recipe until it suits your palette.
Pour it over your tofu (I usually cube my tofu but you can do it any way you like.  I also love adding 'absorbent' veges like eggplant at this point) and bang it in the fridge to soak up the flavours.  Theoretically you should leave it to marinade over night but I'm never that organised and find a few hours does the trick.
When you feel it's ready (or you're too hungry to wait any longer) put it onto a roasting dish.  I prefer not to pour all the marinade over it because I find that it doesn't get nice and crispy.  Instead I throw it under the grill (ie my imitation bbq) and let it really brown up.  You may have noticed that at this point I also throw in some extra veges, that's just because I love em!  At the very end I usually pour the rest of the marinade over the mix and cook it for a few minutes longer (it tastes too good not to ).  And ta da, it's dinner time!

Now the only thing missing is coconut rice.  This is super easy to make and tastes AMAZING!
Coconut Rice    
Rice (I usually exclusively use brown rice in my cooking but for this one white really does work better)
1 can coconut cream
Handful of dried coconut

I'm assuming here that you already know how to cook regular rice (the absorption method way).  So basically the difference is that you are replacing the water with a can of coconut cream, and then topping it up with water. Add a bit of salt and cook as usual.  Then at the end when you have fluffy white rice (okay it might not turn out quite as fluffy as usual), you stir in a handful of shredded coconut.  This isn't what you would traditionally eat with jerk but in my opinion they're a perfect match!

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