Throw Some Tofu On The Smoker And Thank Us Later

Smoked tofu kebabs
Smoked tofu kebabs - Olegbreslavtsev/Getty Images

Whether you're making a tofu stir-fry or tofu "egg" salad, there are a million and one ways to cook this timeless plant-based protein. Among the many ways to prepare tofu, one of the tastiest is smoking it. Although it's celebrated for its adaptability, tofu's natural flavor is relatively mild and often relies on marinades, seasonings, sauces, and other flavorful fixings to develop a more pronounced taste. Smoking tofu infuses it with a smoldering, woodsy essence that gives it a much-needed dimension of flavor and an aroma you can smell and taste in equal parts.

Although smoking is a cooking method commonly reserved for meaty spreads like brisket burnt ends, racks of ribs, and lamb chops, adding tofu to the smorgasbord brings diversity to your backyard barbecue's menu and gives your vegan friends a chance to indulge in the wonders of freshly-smoked proteins. Thanks to its naturally mild flavor, tofu pairs well with other classic barbecue fixings, ensuring that you never have to compromise on or omit your favorite cookout provisions.

Served alongside sweet barbecue sauce, baked beans, and potato salad, smoked tofu is a satiating, satisfying addition to the tapestry of barbecue essentials. Some animal-sourced meat, such as brisket and chuck roast, can take 10 to 20 hours to smoke. Tofu, on the other hand, is well-smoked within two hours, making it an excellent option for smoked protein on the fly.

Read more: 11 Tips For Keeping Your Grill Shiny And Clean

Hot Tips For Smoking Tofu

Outdoor smoker and bottle of wine
Outdoor smoker and bottle of wine - AVN Photo Lab/Shutterstock

Before you fire up the smoker, keep a few tips in mind to get the most out of your cookout-style smoked tofu. But don't fret -- these pointers are centered on informed decision-making. First, consider the differences between hot-smoking and cold-smoking. Hot-smoked tofu is exposed to high temperatures to cook and infuse it with a campfire-style flavor. This type of smoked tofu is best enjoyed fresh out of the smoker, making it ideal for cookouts.

Cold-smoked tofu is prepared at lower temperatures, and although the protein will develop a smoky flavor, it isn't cooked. Cold-smoking is typically employed as a food preservation method, which is ideal if you want to use smoked tofu in various recipes throughout the week. Whether hot or cold-smoking, the wood you use makes all the difference. Because they burn slowly and maintain a steady stream of smoke, hardwoods are best for smoking tofu. To give tofu the same bravado as smoked brisket and ribs, use oak wood.

If you want to introduce a subtle sweetness to your tofu, smoke it with maple wood. For something versatile that works with all proteins and veggies, smoke it with pecan or hickory wood. Or, get a bold hit of savory goodness by smoking it with mesquite wood. In all cases, first remove excess moisture from your tofu so it can hold its shape while smoking by pressing it for at least 30 minutes. Also, consider marinating the tofu somewhere between two hours and two days before smoking it -- the longer it soaks, the more flavorful it becomes.

Marinating And Serving Smoked Tofu

Barbecue tofu, rice, and macaroni and cheese
Barbecue tofu, rice, and macaroni and cheese - X, formerly known as Twitter

Marinating and pairing smoked tofu is essential for maximizing the flavor of this vegan cookout classic. Luckily, there's no shortage of flavor combinations. For a barbecue-style marinade, a combination of BBQ sauce, olive oil, garlic, smoked paprika, and the vinegar of your choice gives your tofu a quintessential cookout taste that's indistinguishable from smoked meats. Enjoy a unique tofu marinade that marries well with other barbecue bites by combining rice vinegar, maple syrup, brown sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, and ginger for something sweet, spicy, and downright smoky.

Don't limit yourself, either. Other smoked tofu marinade ingredients may include jalapeños for heat, citrus juice for acidity, and cinnamon for a warming sweetness. Shred marinated hot-smoked tofu and smother it with an easy homemade barbecue sauce before sandwiching it between two burger buns for a vegan take on a pulled pork sandwich -- and don't forget the pickles. Kebabs, anyone? Skewer flavor-forward hot-smoked tofu with other smoked veggies like bell peppers and mushrooms for a portable meal you can enjoy with your feet in the pool.

Use cold-smoked tofu as a topper for an Asian-inspired salad made with shredded cabbage and carrots drizzled with peanut sauce for a smoldering yet refreshing and nutty dish. Cold-smoked tofu is also a great way to add depth of flavor to spring rolls, giving their vegetal bravado a smoky, woodsy kick. Whether you're vegan or not, smoked tofu is an exciting departure from traditional smoked proteins. Trust us, your tastebuds (and dinner guests) will thank you.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.