Monday, August 4, 2014

What? Did you say, "TOFU Fajitas??"

*SIGH* Tofu.  Billions of Asian people who eat this stuff can't be wrong, can they?  There is a very small group of vegetarians who picket my castle door from time to time (they're harmless, really, being afraid of guns, too), demanding that I give Tofu a "Fair Shake."

My feeling is, if you have to work your butt off to mold Tofu into a shape that vaguely resembles a turkey, and if you have to infuse the tofu with turkey stock and other chemical additives to make it taste like turkey... Instead of a "Tofurkey" at Thanksgiving, WHY DON'T YOU JUST EAT SOME REAL TURKEY??

I digress.  I did my level best to construct an edible Tofu Fajita.  Before I tell you how I did it, we need to get some rules straight:
  1. Do not ever tell me, "It tastes just like chicken, you can't even tell the difference!"  If anyone ever tells you that after eating Tofu, they're lying to you, or they burned off their taste buds a long time ago.
  2. God gave us teeth for a reason.  Tofu requires no use of these teeth no matter what you do to it, so do not ever tell me, "The texture, it's just like chicken, you can't even tell the difference!"  If anyone ever tells you that, they're lying, or they've never actually bitten into a real chicken.
  3. I don't condone the use of Tofu.  Ever.  But if you're in a pinch, and you want to eat something that actually tastes good, and you need protein, and there aren't any chickens around... I'm your man.  

Keep this recipe handy.  If you're ever kidnapped by over-zealous hippies and dragged back to their commune, you'll need it... At least until they all close their eyes and hold hands to sing "Kumbayah" in a circle, affording you the chance you'll need to escape!

You will need:
  • Homemade Pico de Gallo
  • Homemade Guacamole
  • Grilled onions and Peppers
  • Flour Tortillas (Preferably homemade)
  • Two fresh Jalapenos
  • Three garlic cloves
  • Soy Sauce
  • Sriricha Sauce
  • Sesame Oil
  • 1 package "FIRM" Tofu

I cooked and assembled this recipe alongside some grilled chicken, so everyone who reads this can do their own comparison and make up their own minds about what they might like.  Each fajita (the chicken, and the tofu version) were identically assembled.

Be advised.  When the package says, "Firm," you should not expect any "Firmness" from the Tofu whatsoever.  You could literally suck the entire contents of this package down with a straw, and filter it through your front teeth on its way down.  It's a bit like jello that tastes like water and magnesium (only softer).  One "Benefit" of Tofu (they say) is that it takes on other flavors as you cook it!  I'll never understand that.  Personally, I'd rather eat "chicken" than "jello that tastes like chicken" but... we've already been over that.

Since this Tofu wasn't anywhere near "Firm" in my book, I placed the block on a stack of paper-towels and I put a heavy dessert plate on top of it and walked away for a few hours.  I managed to press a lot more water out of it, and it got firmer, but who are we trying to kid?  This stuff will never be so firm that you might have to cut it with a knife.  I daresay, that I could cut the firmest Tofu with a single Kleenex.  Do the best you can, and firm it up.  Then, slice it into hunks that might resemble slices of grilled chicken.

Dice your Jalapeno and garlic and saute them in a pool of sesame oil in a non-stick pan.  When the oil is good and hot and you've cooked down your veggies, add the tofu.  Liberally season with salt and pepper, and add some Sriracha and about a tablespoon of soy.  Toss the Tofu around in the pan, and stir-fry it until all four sides of each "plank" are golden brown.  The best you can hope for here is a moderately chewy outside, and a mushy gelatinized goo in the middle that tastes vaguely of garlic, jalapeno, and sesame.  Add about 1/2 cup of chicken stock if you want to add some chicken flavor, just don't do it when the hippies are watching because they might freak out.. Tell them to go and take a shower or something.  And tell them to USE DEODERANT this time!

Here is my finished Tofu, stacked inside a nice homemade flour tortilla, with some guacamole, fresh Pico, and some grilled peppers and onions.  Below, on the left, you'll see the identical dish, constructed with grilled chicken...

This is a lovely chicken fajita!  Something you could really sink your teeth into!  Lean, low in fat, high in protein, deliciously cooked over a wood fire and pulled from the heat at 165 degrees before being sliced and devoured.

Here, you see both fajitas, after I've taken a test bite out of them.  Ok, well, I admit to taking three or four test bites out of the real chicken one (on the right, in the picture) because it was absolutely delicious!  The Tofu fajita had the texture of a "mashed potato" fajita, only much softer.  It tasted of guacamole, fresh garden salsa, and it had a hint of "stir fry" aroma with the distant bite of Sriracha.

All in all, I have to say... the Tofu fajita wasn't too bad.  It was certainly "edible."  If you served me one, I'd eat it.  If you pulled the Tofu out, I'd still eat it, but I'd leave the Tofu on the plate.

I suppose Tofu has it's place in the world, but it's place is not at my house.  Whenever I mash it up against the roof of my mouth with my tongue to try to taste it, it splits all apart and goos up my whole mouth and I make this face... My wife calls it my, "Oops, someone just sneezed into my mouth and you might have to call 911" face.  Your mileage may vary!

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