August 1, 2013

Grilled Orange Teriyaki Tofu Skewers with Aromatic Coconut Rice

Back in January, I bought a jar of coconut oil from Trader Joes. Not for culinary use, but rather to smear it all over my skin, hoping to heal the dry winter's itch. I had read somewhere that using coconut oil in the shower, slathering it on your skin, was likely to give some relief to dry skin. I had even heard that it makes an excellent shaving cream. Excited to give it a go, I immediately turned on the shower and grabbed my jar of 'expensive' coconut oil. I unscrewed the lid, scooped a handful of this oil and slathered it on my legs. The shower promptly turned into a slippery mess, a death trap really. There was coconut oil everywhere, and my body was now covered in a thick layer of oil, albeit I did smell nice, like a macaroon or an almond joy. There was no way of removing the oil, not even with three scrubs of soap. Holding on for dear life, I managed to get out of the shower, still covered in a layer of oil. I grabbed the towel, and was able to get most of it off, but not all. I retired the jar to the cupboard, and it has mostly just sat there for the last 7 months, mocking me. 'Coconut oil, delicious for cooking, dangerous for showering' is what needs to be printed on the label, right beside organic, cold-pressed, unrefined, gluten-free, vegan, and caveman appropriate.

It wasn't until I spotted a recipe for Laura's sticky teriyaki eggplant, and herbed cashew coconut rice, that I began to let my distrust for coconut oil go. Immediately drawn to the summery-ness of this recipe, and meeting my must-use-grill-whenever-possible requirements, I began brainstorming a sweet version of my own. I've been confronted with a few 'blast from the past moments' lately, starting with a crab stuffed sole dining experience at a restaurant, where the decor hadn't changed since the 90's. A recent read from a BonApp├ętit article on the trendiest vegetables of the past 44 years, I was temporally brought back to a time, not too long ago, when beet and goat cheese salads were an exotic twist on the more tradition garden or caesar. The popularity of sun dried tomatoes in the 90's, and putting them on, and in, everything Italian related. When it was though that steamed asparagus was the absolute and total classy veg. When we discovered that you could grill a portobello, put on it on a bun and call it a veggie burger. Also, totally non-food related, but this read will really stir up some nostalgic memories - best toys from the 80's. In the theme of trendy food items that have lost their appeal, what about skewers? There was a period, I remember it clearly when you would show up at a barbecue, the kids would be eating burgers, and the classy folk eating skewers. What happened to those days?

Today we're bringing back the skewer and all of their glory. Sweet caramelized pineapple, crunchy grilled peppers, and onions. Sweet and savory tofu, grilled to perfection with an artistic display of char marks. I came up with a sweet orange marinade, a collection of a few of my favorite sauces, hoisin, soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger. I like to press my tofu for a few hours or overnight before marinating. This ensures that you have removed most of the water from the tofu and there is now room to soak up all of the savory flavors. Marinating them for a few hours is sufficient time. I like the combination of onion, red peppers, and pineapple for the skewers because it brings me back to the days in Thailand when I lived off of sweet and sour tofu and rice for months, but you can use any combination of vegetables. And then we get to grill, the fun part because grilling always includes a little bit of sun and cold beers.

Coconut oil is absolutely delicious and wonderful, and can transform rice into a flavorful aromatic wondrous creation. 1 - 2 tbsp into the rice cooker, and that's all it takes to add a slight subtlety to the taste, and a smell that floods the body with memories of vacation, beaches, and fresh grilled seafood. Brent, who is not a big fan of rice, ate a large bowl with a smile on his face, and told me that 'all rice should taste like this'.

I would also like to take a moment here before I go stuff my face with a bowl of coconut rice, to give a shout-out to the people at New West KnifeWorks for sending me this gorgeous santoku chef knife. They've helped me rekindle my love of chopping veg, and I am proud to admit that I no longer need to bust out the serrated bread knife to slice a tomato. I have literally cut the amount time spent chopping in half {haha, pun!} This knife is gorgeous, the material used for the handle is harvested in Vermont using only sustainably harvested hardwoods. It's sharp, beautiful, and I am so in love with it. With the amount of chopping I do around here, I am shocked that it took me this long to get a beauty like this. If you head on over the New West KnifeWorks website, you can register for a chance to win a chef knife, or to their facebook page for a chance to win a 4 piece knife set!

makes 7 skewers and 2 cups of rice
notes: You will need to prepare the marinade and soak the tofu for at least 2 hours before you grill them. If you press the tofu beforehand, possibly overnight or for a few hours, the marinade will better absorb into the tiny tofu pores. Make sure to purchase firm tofu, and not firm silken tofu - which is too soft for the grill. I chose to use onion, red pepper, and pineapple for the skewers, but you can use any veg you prefer. 

1 lb firm tofu, pressed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 orange, juice + zest
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp mirin
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1/2 pineapple, cubed
1/2 onion, cubed
1 red pepper, cubed
olive oil for brushing

1 cup dry basmati or jasmine rice
1 tbsp coconut oil
sliced scallions or chives
1 tbsp sesame seeds

While you prepare the marinade, remove as much water as possible from the tofu by pressing it with something heavy on top ex. frying pan. The more water you remove from the tofu, the more flavors it will absorb. Cut the tofu into one-inch cubes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the juice from one orange and its zest, soy sauce, sesame oil, mirin, hoisin sauce, garlic, and ginger. Place the tofu cubes into the marinade, and toss. Cover and place in the fridge for 2 hours, giving the tofu a stir every half an hour to evenly distribute the marinade.

As soon as you are ready to remove the tofu from the fridge, place 1 cup of rice into the bowl of a rice cooker. Was the rice. swirling it through your fingers. Drain the water, and then repeat a few times. Add 1 tbsp of coconut oil, and 1 3/4 cups of water to the rice. Cook until done. Add the chopped scallions or chives, and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Remove the tofu from the fridge, and thread the skewers with onion, pineapple, red pepper, and the tofu. It does not matter which order you thread the skewers. Save the leftover marinade. Brush the skewers will olive oil.

Turn the grill to low. Place the skewers onto the grill. Rotate the skewers often to prevent burning. Every few minutes, brush the skewers with the leftover marinade. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the onions are cooked, and you have beautiful char marks on the tofu.


  1. Baahaha oh my goodness, in September I did the exact same thing!! I was slipping all over the shower with coconut oil everywhere...a total disaster! These skewers are so lovely. Great recipe!

  2. What a near to deth experience, hahaha. I have a nice jar of a coconut oil but I won't dare to use it in my shower :)

  3. What a great way to have a vegetarian BBQ that's not just veggies! As much as Iove veggies, orange teriyaki tofu sounds incredible. Coconut rice is also fantastic, I have it quite frequently and really enjoy it.

  4. Lovely writing and your tofu skewers look delightful!

  5. Firstly, this looks so delicious, and that rice sounds amazing! And secondly, I use coconut oil on my legs! But I use it like a moisturiser, after I've showered. It works great for me, but I am unco at the best of times and would never attempt a shower death trap!

  6. Coconut oil and shower isn't a great match at all. Yikes!

    But this is seriously delish!! Anything with tofu and coconut has me drooling :D

  7. Looks absolutely delicious.. very beautiful captures too.. awesome job :)

  8. These sound like the perfect choice for our next barbecue! I never think to grill pineapple for some reason, but it's so good--thanks for the reminder!

  9. I've often wondered about the whole coconut oil & body thing and whether it actually works or is total madness. I think it's far safer sticking to culinary applications for it! These skewers are totally perfect for summer, love the sweet sharpness of that glaze especially with that fluffy coconut rice.

  10. Those skewers made my eyes pop. They are gorgeous, and then? That knife made my heart skip a beat. The handle itself is beautiful, and I have been known to pay more attention to the cutlery and knives at a restaurant than at the food. Well. Almost.

    And that coconut oil is a perfect moisturizer. AFTER your shower. While your skin is still a bit damp, rub a small amount over your skin. It goes a long way. And try some (again, a very, very tiny bit) in your hair in the dead of winter to tame flyaways. I love the stuff, both for cooking and moisturizing.

    Next up. Those skewers. Beautiful!

  11. YES. On the dinner menu for this week.

    I also use coconut oil as a body moisturizer (after showering!) and it amazingly keeps my tinea versicolor in check (common skin condition caused by a harmless yeast, notoriously hard to get rid of), thanks to the antifungal properties. Plus it smells sooo gooood....

    1. Do you wash it down after a while?

  12. such a lovely recipe. Looks great xo