My uncle Cliff is from Trinidad and although we are not terribly close, the flavours of the Carribean are very familiar and comforting to me, as he’s married to my favourite aunt. This is a spicy, rich and nuanced tofu – full of warm flavours on top of all that spice. It’s a cinch to pull together, as well. You may have observed that I’m big on homemade spice mixes, but you can go ahead and buy a pre-made one, if you want to. I just like that I can ensure the freshness of all my spices and work to make a balance that works for me and the food that I cook.
For today, to make sure the tofu is as flavourful as possible, I did a few simple individual seasoning techniques because believe me: I know how to make a tasty tofu dish. First, cut into desired shapes. Second, always season with salt before attempting to move on any further. Third, move on to whatever else you’d like to do with the tofu; in this case, it’s a dry rub followed by a marinade. I used lemon in my marinade because I didn’t happen to have any limes on hand, so I think they’re interchangeable in this particular recipe.
If you really love spicy food, you can use habanero or Scotch Bonnet peppers in place of the jalapeños in the marinade. If you’re just starting to venture into spicy food, you should definitely remove the seeds from the jalapeños or consider subbing one whole poblano pepper and serving with plenty of rice or your choice of bread. Remember: water will only make it burn more; you need to have something neutral to knock out the spiciness. Also to be considered, is that you can remove the tofu from the marinade and fry each slice of tofu over medium high heat for about ten minutes, rather than baking in the marinade which will turn up the heat factor quite a bit. That said, I love spicy food and I like my jerk a little dryer and baking provides that to me with no fuss.
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Black pepper, to taste
Whisk together and store in an air-tight container.
Jerk Tofu Marinade
Makes ~1 1/2 cups
2 jalapeno peppers, top end trimmed
1 small yellow onion, peeled
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled if you like
4 cloves garlic
Pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, to your taste
1 teaspoon molasses (optional)
Juice of 1 lemon
Combine all ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth.
Makes 1 lb
1 lb extra firm tofu, sliced into 8 equal pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons jerk spice mixture
Jerk marinade, recipe above
Salt both sides of the tofu. Rub one tablespoon of jerk spice mixture on the top of the tofu and one tablespoon on the opposite side. Let sit for several minutes. Pour half the marinade into an oven proof dish. Lay the tofu out on top of the marinade. Pour the remaining marinade over the top. Let marinate, refrigerated, for at least a half an hour. Longer is better, but no big deal. Preheat oven to 375 F. Bake the tofu for 30 to 40 minutes, turning over about half way through.