grilled corn & tofu Posted on May 23, 2011 By hello kitchen

It’s official… I’m a huge fan of charcoal grilling. I’d always associated charcoal grills with inordinate amount of time for prep and clean up, and unpredictable bursts of flame. But it’s been surprisingly straightforward so far. The little chimney starter seems to be the key to getting some hot coals burning, and I’m still experimenting with how few charcoal bricks I can get away with (so far, about 12-15 has been the bare minimum). For the impact of flavor and the primitive simplicity of cooking over an open flame, I can’t say enough good things about it!

I’m still working my way through Planet Barbecue and made two great vegetarian recipes last time. The Cambodian coconut-grilled corn was sweet with a caramelized coating from the brushed coconut milk basting mixture. It was so simple to make, incredibly tasty and (as a bonus) aesthetically very pleasing.

The Malaysian grilled tofu w/ chile peanut sauce is made with a pineapple, cucumber and bean sprout salad, which I didn’t have on hand for this go-round. But it would make a perfect meal in itself if you added these items. I had about half of the correct ingredients for the sauce (no shrimp paste on hand – darn!), but somehow it turned out great. So I’ll modify the recipe to show how it came together.

Coconut-Grilled Corn
adapted from Planet Barbecue by Steven Raichlen

3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 tbsp palm sugar or light brown sugar
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp salt
4 ears sweet corn, husk stripped back and tied together

1. Combine coconut milk, palm sugar, bay leaf and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat and let simmer gently until sugar dissolves, 3-5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let the basting mixture cool to room temperature.

2. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.

3. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Place the corn on the hot grate and grill it until nicely browned on all sides, 2-3 minutes per side, 8-12 minutes in all, turning using the husk as a handle. Start basting the corn with some of the coconut milk mixture after a few minutes and baste it again several times as it grills.

4. Baste the corn one final time, trasnfer to a platter, and serve.

Grilled Tofu with Chile Peanut Sauce
adapted from Planet Barbecue by Steven Raichlen

3 tbsp peanut oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
1 tsp thai red curry paste
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp mirin
1/4 cup lightly toasted peanuts
2 small seedless cucumbers, peeled
1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled
2 cups fresh mung bean sprouts
about 1 1/2 lb extra firm tofu

1. Heat oil in a wok or shallow saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, cilantro, and curry paste and cook until fragrant and lightly browned, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the sugar and cook until it dissolves, about 1 minute. Add the soy sauce, mirin and 2 tbsp of peanuts and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 2/3 cup water, reduce heat to medium and let sauce simmer for 5 minutes more, or until it thickens a bit.

2. Cut the cucumbers & pineapple into 1/4″ square matchsticks and arrange on a platter with the mung bean sprouts.

3. Starting at a short end, cut each piece of tofu in half through the thickness to obtain to broad ‘steaks.’ Press it between a layer of paper towels, a heavy cast iron skillet and cutting board, to drain for 30 minutes.

4. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat it to high.

5. Lightly brush each piece of tofu on both sides with a little chile peanut sauce. Spoon the remaining sauce into a bowl and sprinkle the remaining 2 tbsp of peanuts on top.

6. Brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the tofu on the hot grate and grill for 2-4 minutes per side until nicely browned. Give each piece a quarter turn after 1 minute to create a handsome crosshatch of grill marks.

7. Transfer the grilled tofu to the platter with the pineapple, cucumber and bean sprouts. Spoon the peanut sauce over the top and serve.

Enjoy!

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