9.28.2013

TANDOORI DRY-RUB... TAKE ONE

As the title of this post suggests, I will more than likely experiment with this recipe a few more times. This dish needs a lot of work, but I thought I'd get it out there for other palates and minds to mull over. 

But before you run off an try this, or just cast it off as some sub-par vegetarian/vegan take on a standard meat dish, I'd like to share why I choose to use tofu and not an actual meat. I've had this thought about creating a two-layer barbecue recipe that builds on the the traditional tandoori chicken concept for a long time now -- a thin crust of savory herbs and spices on top of which you baste a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce. Together the layers will provide the classic flavors one would associate with tandoori chicken. My thought is that the ultimate meat to put this on would be a rack of baby-back ribs, but that is a long ways off, as I'm not going to waste a perfectly good piece of meat on a recipe that is no where close to where I'd like it to be. So... getting back to the tofu... it's about as bland a protein substrate as you can get. If you can get this slab of bean curd to taste good, you've done something right with the rub. And that, my friends, is why I chose tofu. 

This recipe is really focused on one of the two components: the dry rub. I thought that if I can get this base rub right, it shouldn't be too difficult to find a tangy sweet sauce to accompany it. I may be wrong, but I'm going to go with that assumption for now. This rub is a good starting point. It actually works very well with chicken, and more specifically, baked chicken. I've used it on chicken that I've prepared over a grill, but I think the high and direct heat of the grill may actually char some of the spices, rendering them more bitter than what I care for. Again, I'm looking for a subtle crust, that provides a savory background where you can taste all the individual herbs and spices. The base of this rub is built on onion and garlic powder, coriander, cumin, and a little bit of cayenne pepper. I added a little turmeric, mainly for the color, but I think it may have actually been the main culprit of that bitterness I pointed out earlier. In addition, I thought that I could dial in a little tang with some ginger powder, but again, I think I can pull back on it in the rub and rely on the ingredients in the sauce to bring in that flavor. I also think that with ginger, you're always walking a tight rope with respect to its spicyness vs. its tanginess, a little too much, and it's biting back at you.

Alright, so please let me know if you try this. Also, if you do take it to the next step and experiment with sauces, I'd love to know about it.


Ingredients
1 Tbsp
1 Tbsp
1 Tbsp
½ Tbsp
1 tsp
1 Tbsp
½ Tbsp
2 tsp
2 tsp
1 lb
2 Tbsp
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Ground coriander
Ground cumin
Cayenne powder
Ground ginger
Ground turmeric
Ground black pepper
Salt
Extra-Firm Tofu, drained, pressed dry, and cut into 2"x 3" slabs @ ½" thickness
Canola Oil

Directions
1
2
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4
5
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a bowl, mix all the dry spices.
Drizzle canola oil over tofu and toss gently to coat.
Add ½ Tbsp of the dry rub to each slab of tofu, ensuring that all sides are coated evenly.
Place on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, turning half-way through.


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