I have a terrific recipe to marinate Mahi for fish tacos. Can this be used to make a tofu/tempeh version with much success?
August 16, 2012 10:57 AM   Subscribe

I have a terrific recipe to marinate Mahi for fish tacos. Can this be used to make a tofu/tempeh version with much success?

We are going to have friends over for a JAWS party and are making some lovely Mahi tacos. I have a really great recipe for a marinade thats basically just lime juice, ancho chili powder, garlic and oil and it works wonders, but Id also like to give our veggie friends the option of tofu or tempeh tacos using the same marinade (different bowl tho, obvs)

Difficulty: Ive never cooked with tofu and know little to nothing about how it plays in other recipes. A friend suggested maybe "pressing" the tofu and trying it that way.

Any insights?
posted by Senor Cardgage to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Perhaps instead you could gently fry it and drizzle a version of your marinade onto it, dialling back a little on the chili powder and the lime juice and using olive oil. It would also work with grilled halloumi.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:01 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

yes. Maybe dial up all the spices, more lime juice, not too much oil. The problem with tofu is that it's very bland, so you need more concentrated flavor to make it interesting.

For good taco-texture tofu, definitely get extra-firm tofu and freeze and thaw it it before marinating. Get it as dry as possible by pressing between towels and put it in the marinade. The idea is to get it to release its own water, collapse it a little so it will be chewier, and drink the marinade up.
posted by peachfuzz at 11:05 AM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

peachfuzz has it - frozen and thawed tofu, marinate it, then blot it dry and either fry or sear it. Don't use tempeh - it has a strong, earthy flavor, which - while not unpleasant - doesn't seem like it'd be terribly compatible with light, citrusy flavors.
posted by julthumbscrew at 11:16 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yuba would be even better than tofu, if you can get it. Same mild flavor, but a great toothsome texture.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:25 AM on August 16, 2012

Put the mariande on the tofu and give it plenty of time. Then *bake* it. (300 degrees for about an hour usually works for me, but consult your favorite cookbook if you prefer.)
posted by willbaude at 11:37 AM on August 16, 2012

Response by poster: Im intrigued about the baking thing. Tell me more.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:47 AM on August 16, 2012

The key with flavoring tofu is to actually cook it in the marinade, whether you decide to fry or bake. I would personally not freeze/thaw, but would instead stick it in the marinade for about 20 minutes, remove and fry in a nonstick skillet for 10 minutes on a side, then add the marinade to the pan to sort of glaze the tofu with it. They key is to get a good crust first, though, by letting fry a while before adding the liquid to the pan.

Baking in the marinade would work, too - just stick it in the oven for 45 minutes or until the marinade is mostly absorbed/boiled away.
posted by something something at 12:06 PM on August 16, 2012

This would be a great time for jackfruit tacos! Less expensive than tofu/tempeh, totally vegan, and it's even a better taco-y texture than tofu. I made "shredded bbq" jackfruit tacos for a summer cookout and they were a huge hit. There are crockpot versions of the recipe but I cooked mine on the stove: just drain the jackfruit, sautee with garlic & onion, shred jackfruit with forks, then mix with bbq sauce. I think it'd work great with your marinade idea instead of bbq sauce. You can find jackfruit in cans in your local Asian or ethnic grocery. Make sure you get the young unsweetened jackfruit. I used six 15-oz cans for a dozen people & there were leftovers.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 12:41 PM on August 16, 2012 [6 favorites]

Jackfruit tacos are so good, I actually came in here to suggest them. Much easier to make and work better with the flavors you want to use. As a vegan, I love tofu tacos, but jackfruit tacos are far superior. And to reiterate what cuddles said, make sure you get the young jackfruit (green) and make sure it is not sweetened. I get the jackfruit that is in water, but there is some in brine which can work but I like to control the saltiness of the food. The trick to getting it to shred apart is cooking it on low heat over a long period of time which the crock pot is perfect for.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:34 PM on August 16, 2012

I have often marinated tempeh for tacos and it can be quite tasty. I would recommend it over tofu for this purpose for textural reasons.

Nthing jackfruit, and cassava/yucca can also be a good thing for tacos.
posted by epanalepsis at 4:07 PM on August 16, 2012

My favorite veggie taco filling is potatoes. You could fry them like home fries and drizzle in your marinade.

Otherwise, the freeze and press method is my favorite way of doing tofu that is going to be marinaded. Freezing forms ice crystals which make the tofu both more porous and more toothy (I kind of hate the dense chalkiness of un-frozen tofu, unless it's prepared by someone who really knows their tofu). Press with a weighted plate so the tofu drains, then marinade overnight. The tofu is more spongy after freezing and pressing and takes up marinade well. Baking is a good idea, though personally I would wipe the tofu off*, cut in 1/2" slabs, and fry in oil until golden. Drain. Then drizzle with extra warmed up marinade before serving.

* fried garlic is bitter, hence the wiping.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:51 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

The tofu-baking recipe I use is just straight out of the AskMe favorite, Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything. (Actually it might be How To Cook Everything Vegetarian-- I have both and switch between them frequently.) Here's a blog post I found of somebody applying a version of the recipe.

Anyway, here's how it works.

Cut your block of tofu in half, along the largest axis, so you have two big flat rectangles of tofu.
Put them in the marinade.
Eventually, take them out of the marinade, and put them on a baking sheet.
Bake for an hour or so at 300/350. (I do 350, but I also watch it and take it out as much as 15 minutes early.)

Crunchy bits on the outside, custardy on the inside, and super-flavorful, if your marinade is flavorful.
posted by willbaude at 6:18 PM on August 17, 2012

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