Sunday, February 05, 2012

Vegetarian Shisk Kabobs

I was in a retro mood as my family bought me a large box of Twinkies for my birthday. Well, you know, they're going bankrupt and I mentioned that I hadn't had a Twinkie in something like forty thing i know I'm unwrapping an beautifully decorated box of snack cakes. Know what? They weren't as bad as expected. The cake seems less squishy than I recall, and while it was so sweet it actually did that thing to my head where it goes all woo woo from sugar, it wasn't inedible. Logically, it follows that after consuming a Twinkie, I had to make shisk kabob.

I think my mother made this sort of thing quite a bit-with a marinade of Italian dressing. I didn't want that, so I went with the idea of a vegetarian pepper steak on skewers. I know, but stay with me for a minute as it worked better than I ever could have imagined.

The tofu will never fool you into thinking it is round steak, but it did have all the flavourings of a good steak-onion, garlic, imitation beef stock. By marinating the tofu and baking it in that mix I was able to get a decent flavour and texture that while not meat, and not meat substitute, does at least reflect the overall effect of a pepper steak. Sort of. I mean, there are limits to everything.

Danny took charge of assembling the kabobs and did a terrific job (nothing fell off in the broiler). He's quite pleased with the results and I have a feeling many more skewered meals are in our future.

For the Tofu:

1 package extra firm tofu
3 tablespoons corn oil
1/4 cup imitation beef stock
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1/2 tablespoon dried minced garlic
Ground black pepper
Smoked salt to taste
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Slice tofu into fourths. Lay slices on a towel, cover with a second towel and weight with a heavy bottle (or tine, etc.) After ten minutes, change to new towels and repeat. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Combine other ingredients and whisk well. Place tofu slices in a baking pan (an 8x8 ought to do it) and pour over the marinade. Flip the slices once and place in the oven.

Bake 30 minutes. Turn, bake 30 minutes longer. Then prop on sides-do 5 minutes each side. Remove to a plate and cool. Then, chill until needed. Can be made well ahead.

For the vegetables:

2 large green bell peppers, cut into good sized squares
1-2 large tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes if you have them) cut into wedges, obvious seeds removed
1 large red onion, cut into eighths
8 ounces mushrooms, stems removed (don't pitch them, you can use them for something else)

Vegetable marinade:

1/4 cup orange juice (I used blood oranges because I had it)
2 tablespoons corn oil
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon ground ginger (powdered)
1 tablespoon cane syrup (Steens, Golden syrup, honey is also OK)
1 teaspoon dried garlic
Black pepper

Mix well, pour over vegetables. I did this in a plastic bag and left it in the fridge all day.

Assemble the kabobs:

I soaked my wooden skewers for two hours to be safe. I'm told 30 minutes is enough, but these were thick, and I'm paranoid. Do as you see fit.

Cut your slabs of cold tofu into cubes.

Drain the vegetables, reserving the marinade. Place on skewers (I got about ten, but it will vary with how you load them) alternating with tofu.

Place a rack on a large roasting pan if you do not own a broiling pan (I don't). As you make the kabobs, place them on. When all are assembled, brush them generously and place them under a hot broiler for five minutes. I played it safe and kept them far from the element, but if you have a gas range with the broiler on the bottom, you may not have a choice. Turn the pan to ensure it gets equal broiling. After five minutes, flip the kabobs and baste with more marinade. Broil another five minutes. Have a look, if they are dry, add more marinade, if they look done, pull them out. This will require a bit of attention on your part.

If you have any marinade left, heat it to serve with the kabobs over rice.

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