Recipe: Roasted Marinated Mexican Tofu Steaks

This article was originally written by Stewart Rose, Vice President of Vegetarians of Washington, for The Seattle Press.

Every once in a while, a cookbook comes out that is more than just a compilation of recipes. Every once in a while, and not as often as one might think, a cookbook author decides to share his methods and his secrets. In The Bold Vegetarian Chef written by Ken Charney and published by John Wiley & Sons, we get more than just recipes; we get a rare glimpse into the thoughts and methods of a talented chef. In this book, you'll find everything from tips on what you should buy to equip your kitchen to those extra special techniques and tricks that make the difference between a good meal and a great one. Especially welcome is a complete explanation of how to prepare tofu and tempeh, thus transforming these healthy soy foods into dishes with an exciting and satisfying taste.

Something of a celebrity in vegetarian circles, Chef Ken is known for a forthright and determined approach to creating bold and generously spiced dishes. Written in a commanding and detailed style, I was left with the expectation that my taste buds would soon be standing at attention. I didn't have to wait long. At Vegetarians of Washington, we wasted no time in trying out these recipes. Here is one of our favorites, Roasted Marinated Mexican Tofu Steaks:

  • 2 pounds tofu, pressed to remove the water
  • 3 ancho chiles
  • 2 New Mexican Chilies
  • 1 guajillo chile or an extra New Mexican chile if not available
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 2 fresh jalapeno or serrano peppers
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons unrefined cane sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock or water
  1. Preheat the broiler with the rack set 5 to 6 inches from the heat. Slice the tofu into 8 cutlets.
  2. In a large dry skillet toast the chiles one or two at a time, by laying them flat in the pan and pressing down with a spatula 15 to 30 seconds, until they crackle and give off a slight wisp of smoke. Be careful not to burn them. Flip over and repeat on the other side. When the chiles are done, submerge them in hot water in a small bowl, cover and soak until very soft, 30 to 60 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, place the tomatoes, jalapeno or serrano peppers and red bell peppers on a baking sheet. Broil, turning with tongs, until blackened all over. They will finish in varying degrees of time. The tomatoes and peppers will slightly char and their skins will blister in 5 to 7 minutes. The bell pepper will probably take 10 to 15 minutes. You will want the bell pepper to blacken almost completely.
  4. When done, let cool, then remove the skins from the tomatoes and the stems from the peppers. You may leave the charred skin on the hot peppers unless it is exceptionally burned. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and hot peppers, retaining the juices. Scrape the charred skin off of the bell pepper, remove the ribs and seeds and coarsely chop.
  5. In a blender or food processor combine the chopped vegetables with all the remaining ingredients except the tofu and the stock. Puree until smooth, adding enough stock or water to achieve a sauce the consistency of a thick cream.
  6. Put the tofu in two large heavy duty, sealable freezer bags. Divide the sauce between the bags, making sure the tofu is well coated. Seal the bags and refrigerate overnight.
  7. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the tofu with about half its sauce on an oiled baking dish. Roast 10 minutes on one side then 5 minutes on the other. Meanwhile heat the remaining sauce in a saucepan. Serve the tofu with the warm sauce. Garnish with the chopped cilantro.