Monday, August 29, 2011

Jamaican Jerk Tofu Kebabs with Mango Salsa

I have never been to Jamaica, but I've been to the American and British Virgin Islands on several occasions.  The Islands are beautiful and when vacationing there you always think how wonderful it would be to own a home on a Caribbean Island.  But one word..."Hurricane" pushes that thought right out of my mind.

I grew up in Maryland and I remember two hurricanes/tropical storms that hit the Mid-Atlantic states, Agnes in 1972 and David in 1979.  Agnes was more severe of the two because of wide-spread flooding, but I remember David all too well because a telephone poll crashed through our condo window where we were vacationing in Ocean City.  So watching Irene roll up the coast over the weekend brought back a lot of memories, especially since I have family who still live in Maryland.  It's weird though, but whenever I go back to visit during the summer months I always want to experience thunderstorms.  I love it during late-afternoon when it's really humid, and the sky gets dark, the wind picks up and the rain starts coming down.  But then, about an hour later as the storm passes, the sky is beautiful with no humidity.  Reminds me very much of the Islands.  But thunderstorms and hurricanes/tropical storms are very different and I'm thankful that my family is safe and only experienced large trees falling over and blocking their driveway.      

So thinking so much about hurricanes over the past week got me craving some Caribbean cuisine and so I decided to make Jamaican Jerk Marinated Tofu Kebabs with Coconut Basmati Rice and Mango Salsa.  The only thing missing from the meal was a strong rum punch and of course an early-evening thunderstorm.

Jerk Marinade:

1 lb organic extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed to remove excess moisture
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
4 green onions, chopped
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tbsp minced lemongrass
1 tbsp ground allspice
1 tbsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
2 tbsp agave syrup, or brown sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2 oranges)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 3 limes)
Filtered water if necessary to thin
1 tbsp olive oil

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a small sauce pan, add olive oil and saute green onions, jalapeno, ginger and garlic until soft, about 4 minutes, being careful not to burn.
  • Add mixture to a food processor or blender, along with all the other ingredients and blend until smooth.
  • After tofu has been drained and pressed, cut into 1-2" squares and marinate for about an hour.
  • Shake off excess marinade and bake tofu on a sheet tray for about 30 minutes until firm, turning frequently.
Coconut & Kidney Bean Basmati Rice:

1 cup basmati rice, rinsed until clear and soaked
1 1/2 cups red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 yellow onion, minced
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp minced lemongrass
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 cups filtered water
2 tbsp minced cilantro
2 tsp olive oil
Note:  I would normally make this with brown basmati rice, but I only had white in my pantry.  If you use brown, your cooking time will be 35 minutes instead of 15-20.

  • Rinse rice until water is clear and soak for about 15 minutes.  Drain rice but measure out 1 1/2 cups of the soaking liquid and set aside.
  • In a sauce pan, add olive oil and saute onion, garlic and lemon grass until soft.
  • Add soaking water, coconut milk, rice, salt and black pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
  • Rinse and drain beans and add them to the rice, along with minced cilantro.  Set aside and keep warm.
Mango Salsa:

1 ripe, but firm mango, peeled, pitted and diced
1 tbsp minced jalapeno
2 tbsp minced red onion
1 tbsp minced cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

  • Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and chill for about 1 hour for flavors to combine.
Other Ingredients/Assembly:

1-2 organic red bell peppers, seeded and chopped into 1-2" pieces
1-2 red or yellow onions, chopped into 1-2" pieces
Extra virgin olive oil for roasting
Kosher salt and black pepper
Wooden skewers
Cilantro leaves and lime wedges for garnish
Note:  If I had a grill pan, I would assemble the skewers and then grill them, but since I don't I tossed the veggies in oil, salt and pepper and then broiled them until lightly charred.  I then assembled the kebabs alternating, tofu, peppers and onions and then warmed them slightly in the oven before serving over the coconut rice with mango salsa. 

1 comment:

  1. wow those tofu skewers look fab! did you have a lot of leftover marinade? it seems like there would be as i marinate tofu all the time... do you think the marinade could be halved?

    i am so insanely impressed by your genuine cooking skills, i do not say this to many people, but you honestly need to open a restaurant, you are amazing!