I had a bad experience attempting to smoke vegetables and tofu. I am a determined chef, therefore, I tried again.
I searched the internet for some kind of information on how to set up a charcoal grill for smoking, especially smoking chiles. The results were depressing, and I found loads of information on how to use an electric smoker, how to smoke pork meat, and other topics that I wasn’t looking for.
The most useful information I could find was what temperature to smoke at. I realized that the mistake I made on my first attempt was that my grill was too hot. I needed to make sure that the grill was at a low temperature.
I set just a few briquettes on the grill. I am using hardwood briquettes from either Trader Joe’s or Whole foods. They have no harmful chemicals and can be thrown into the compost pile. If you have neither of these stores in your area, look for natural hardwood briquettes that say things like “can be composted” and “no harmful chemicals”. I use a fire starter brick. It’s called A-OK fire liters, and it is specifically for starting charcoal and wood fires. There are some products out there that say they are not to be used for starting these kinds of fires.
I use mesquite chips, but you can use any hardwood of your choice; hickory, apple, maple, oak, pecan, cherry, as long as it is hard wood. Soak the chips at least half an hour to an hour. Fire up the briquettes and wait until they turn white. This is very important. You want your smoker to be about 200-225 degrees otherwise you will burn your food. Add the chips to the charcoal, and let them start smoking. Have your tofu pressed, seasoned or marinated, and ready to go. Use a sheet pan, or some other kind of shallow barrier between the tofu and the heat. I oiled mine with a little olive oil and seasoned it with salt and pepper.
I closed the lid, periodically checking to see if I needed to add more chips. At the same time, I decided to make chipolte (smoked jalapeños). The tofu was finished a long time before the jalapenos. But the trick to smoking vegetables is that you need to pull all the moisture out. I ran out of chips before the chipolte was finished. I let them sit overnight on top of the stove, and this morning fired the oven up to an extremely low heat and finished drying the chiles. I’ll leave them out for a couple more days before sealing them in a jar and using them every so often for a Smoked Coconut Curry sauce. Eventually I’ll be able to purchase a dehydrator.
Back to The tofu. It was done in an hour or so. I was pretty impressed. Took it off the grill, and let it cool for awhile before putting it away.
My partner came around for a sample. Yummy was the response. It was so very good. I believe next time I’ll try a spice rub on it…that should be heaven.