Grilled Teriyaki Tofu Steaks

IMG_2133    This vegan Teriyaki is great for the grill, or you can fry it up in a pan.  You can use this Teriyaki Sauce on tofu steaks, or tempeh or vegan meats, such as a vegan burger served with a ring of grilled pineapple on top, etc.  We like the leftovers in sandwich wraps for lunch, tucked in with shredded kale or lettuce, pickled onions, Vegenaise, and grated carrots.  This is my Dad’s teriyaki sauce that we grew up with.  As a young military man, he would go to this little mom-and-pop place in Monterey, California.  He loved their teriyaki and asked the nice Japanese lady there for the recipe.  She revealed the recipe to him (he was exceedingly handsome) and luckily for us, he wrote it down all those decades ago.  To grill tofu, make sure your grill grate is clean and smooth–I rub it with a wire brush, or a steel wool pad and then rinse it clean with the hose. Once the grill is hot, take tongs and dip a wad of folded paper towel into a dish of cooking oil, and swab the grill grate before adding the tofu, and repeat when turning the tofu.  You also want to make sure there’s a little oil in your marinade.  Soak your skewers for hours, and use two skewers per piece of tofu (for stability).


Serves:  3 to 4

16 oz. block of Extra-Firm tofu,  pressed and drained
 for Teriyaki Sauce
1/2 Cup soy sauce or tamari sauce
1/2 Cup sugar  (not brown sugar)
1/2 -inch piece ginger root grated
1 jigger sake or gin or whiskey  (a jigger = a shot, or 1.5 oz. or 44.3 ml)
     (I use a mini bottle from the liquor store = 50 ml)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 clove garlic pressed, or crushed and chopped
1 Tablespoon cooking oil  (not canola)  (I used peanut oil this time)

Soak slender wooden skewers in water overnight, or for several hours.  Press and drain tofu.  Stir all sauce ingredients together until sugar is dissolved.  Slice tofu thickness in half.  Then cut each piece into two equal rectangles.  Soak tofu steaks in marinade over night, or for several hours, turning them over at least 2 or 3 times.  Before grilling, skewer each piece of tofu using two skewers, so the tips of the skewers protrude out the other end just a bit.  Make sure grill is very clean and smooth, and oil the hot grill before adding the tofu.  Grill each side.  Or, pan fry in a non-stick skillet on medium heat, until a nice caramelized sear is achieved.

Notes:  You can also marinate sliced tempeh.  I use organic Tamari sauce, but in Hawaii, Kikkoman soy sauce is the favorite, and many locals use the Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce, which is good, and my Dad is a Kikkoman man, of course.  Since the original recipe did call for “a jigger” of any of the three alcohols, I used gin this time for that juniper-berry flavor, but I think my Dad usually used sake or whiskey.  The original recipe calls for 1/4 teaspoon MSG, which I eliminated.

Maple Smoked Tofu Steaks

This is my favorite savory tofu to date.  It’s fast, easy and best when it’s hot out of the pan.  It’s succulent with a hint of caramelization and sweetness.  If you or anyone you know is not yet crazy about tofu, this is a great intro dish.  Like my Easy Marinated Tofu Steaks,  this can be a main dish, or sliced up for any other use, such as Bahn Mi sandwiches, wraps, etc.  You could also cube it before frying, and then spoon the crispy cubes over other dishes that need a hit of extra protein;  rice bowls, noodles and the like.  But honestly, if you sit with it and open your mind and nose, this silky, hot tofu steak would be delicious simply atop a bed of brown rice, with a few pickled vegetables or greens on the side.  My favorite way to eat this so far is in a wrap with a little Vegenaise or hummus, sliced dill pickles and raw kale shreds.  Again, I love my Tofu Xpress to squeeze all the water out of the tofu, but you could always do it the old fashioned way.  One more photo below.   p.s.  There’s also a great Teriyaki Tofu under the Tofu Category on this site.


14 oz. package organic, extra-firm tofu
2 Tablespoons Tamari sauce
2 Tablespoons real maple syrup  (use the good stuff)
1 Tablespoon oil, such as grapeseed or safflower (not canola)
1 Tablespoon cooking sherry or sherry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Liquid Smoke  (found in most grocery stores)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Drain, press and drain tofu very well.
Mix all other ingredients and whisk to make a marinade.
Slice dry tofu into two or four thin steaks.
Marinate tofu in refrigerator for an hour or two, turning it over once or twice.
Fry tofu in a dry, non-stick skillet on medium heat, pouring any excess marinade into the pan as you go.
Do not add any additional oil, you don’t need it.
Fry tofu steaks until they are seared golden brown and gorgeous.

Notes:  One of my favorite ways to eat this is in wraps with raw shredded kale, Vegenaise or hummus, and slices of sour pickles.  This amount would make 3-4 wraps.

Nutrition:  Calories 538.  Fat 30.  Saturated Fat 3.  Polyunsaturated Fat 1.  Monounsaturated Fat 3.  Cholesterol 0.  Sodium 632.  Carbs 12.  Fiber 0.  Sugars 7.  Protein 53.  Calcium 80%.  Iron 54%.

Vegan Tonkatsu

Here’s a complementary post to the Tonkatsu Sauce I did just prior to this.  This main course is special enough for company, and just right to serve with a light cabbage salad, and maybe some edamame.  You can use whatever vegan meat you like.  I used some vegan cutlets and just sliced them into fingers, such as you would see in a Japanese restaurant.  This is the perfect dish to introduce Japanese cuisine to kids or picky eaters.  This recipe is from the American Vegan Kitchen cookbook, which has high reviews on Amazon.  She has several recipes for seitan in her book, but I just used what I had on hand.

Serves 4

seitan or soy meat, cut into 1-inch strips
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 Cup soy milk (we love WestSoy Organic Unsweetened)
2/3 Cup all-purpose flour
1.5 Cups Panko crumbs
safflower oil, peanut oil or vegetable oil for frying

Dry whisk flour, salt and pepper together in shallow bowl.
Place soy milk in separate shallow bowl.
Place Panko crumbs in another separate shallow bowl.
Line a baking sheet with paper towels for draining.
Dip each vegan meat strip into soy milk, then dredge it in flour, and then
dip the strip back into the soy milk and then dredge it in the Panko crumbs and arrange on prepared baking sheet.
Repeat until all vegan meat is coated.

Heat a 1/2-inch layer of oil in a tall pot to reduce splatter, over medium heat.
Test oil by carefully dropping a single drop of water in the oil, where it should sizzle.
Add two or three pieces of seitan to the pot at a time, do not crowd.
Fry first side golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.
Turn and fry second side until golden, 2-4 minutes.
Arrange on prepared baking sheet.
Serve with Tonkatsu Sauce.

Vegan Katsu Sauce or Tonkatsu Sauce

My friend Piliki gave me this easy and quick recipe for vegan katsu sauce because she knows I used to like Tonkatsu.  She copied it out of the American Vegan Kitchen cookbook.  This would be good with any panko-fried seitan or soy meat.   Last weekend I made vegan Tonkatsu and it was excellent with this sauce.  I did not care for the slaw that is included in the cookbook recipe, so am not posting it here.  Serve with vegan Tonkatsu meat.  p.s.  The reviews on amazon for this cookbook are very good!


1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic crushed or minced and chopped
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 Tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
3 Tablespoons agave nectar
3 Tablespoons soy sauce or Tamari
3 Tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.
Add the garlic and ginger, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant.
Reduce heat and add remaining sauce ingredients.
Stir to combine.
Simmer 5 minutes for the flavors to blend and for sauce to slightly thicken.
Remove from heat and chill in fridge, where it will thicken some more.
This will keep in fridge for about a week.

Edamame Scented with Star Anise – Hawaiian Style

I was caught short for dinner last night, so I made agedashi tofu and Trader Joe’s Vegetable Bird’s Nests, and of course this special edamame.  This Anise-Scented Edamame is something I first had at my Uncle Stanley’s house in Hilo, back in the ’90s.  I can’t remember who made it, but I was instantly taken with this twist on traditional edamame.  It’s an easy, protein-packed delicious snack or side dish.  I received no written recipe, but was told to just add the anise pods to the boiling water.  I always use my Uncle Stanley’s seasoned Hawaiian salt recipe, the way the locals do, but I’m sure you could use plain sea salt, maybe even some fleur de sel, or Maldon salt, etc.  As a reference, seasoned Hawaiian sea salt will sometimes have ginger, cracked black pepper and garlic in it.  Yes, there is the sodium, but potato chips have sodium too, and the way you eat edamame, some of the salt gets left on the pods.  The anise adds this faint floral note and it just brings me back.  Sometimes you have to tell those who are not familiar with edamame how to eat them.  I’ve actually seen people put the star anise into their mouths, or try to chew the edamame pod.  If you already know how to eat edamame, ignore this next part.  First, look at the soy bean pod, and you’ll notice a very thin string that runs along the outward curve of the pod.  If you start at the stem, you could peel this string off, like a string bean, however, you don’t need to.  This string simply shows you where the edamame soy beans will pop easiest out of the pod, and this is the side you want to put to your mouth.  You hold the stem end between the thumb and forefinger of one hand, and gently squeeze the pod with your teeth so that the edamame beans pop into your mouth.  In the process, you will taste the salt crystals and spices clinging to the pod.
Edamame Scented with Star Anise – Hawaiian Style

10 oz. bag of frozen soybeans (I sometimes use Cascadian Farm organic)
12 star anise (or more or less,  to your taste)
1 teaspoon seasoned Hawaiian salt  (or 1/2 teaspoon)

Bring water to boil.
Add frozen soybeans, and the anise stars.
Bring back to a boil.
Boil 5-15 minutes, depending upon your taste.
Test for tenderness along the way.  The soy beans should be tender but not mushy.
Drain well, reserving the anise stars on the side, or in the pot.
Toss with seasoned Hawaiian salt, or other sea salt.
Garnish with the reserved anise stars and serve.
Feel free to let them sit out for hours on a buffet, they just seem to get better.
Or chill in fridge for up 4 days.
Note:  (three ten ounce bags is plenty for finger food for 15 people if you have other things to eat).  p.s. says it’s pronounced an-is, not ann-eese.

Dark Leafy Greens With Sesame Miso Dressing

I had a bunch of curly kale in the fridge and needed to use it up, so found this recipe in The Vegan Table cookbook.  I cut and pasted this recipe from another web site for you here below.  I only changed the cooking time, as 5 minutes of steaming is not enough for really fresh greens (in my opinion), they come out a bit tough.  I was able to find a very small tub of Mellow White Organic Miso at my local health food store.  Starting off with a mellow miso is a great way to introduce this seasoning to your palate.  This dressing has a really nice, decidedly Japanese taste.  If your bunch of greens is not really large, don’t use all the dressing, as it would overpower the dish.  Since sesame seeds are rich in magnesium, they help your body absorb all that calcium in the dark leafy greens.  You’ll also get some zinc and iron from the sesame seeds.  I transfer the sesame seeds into a recycled glass jar and keep them in the fridge, so they don’t go rancid.  This is a good rule of thumb for all nuts and seeds.

1 large bunch greens (kale, turnip, mustard, collards or chard)
2 tablespoons raw sesame seeds
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon light or dark miso
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon tamari soy sauce

Wash greens and remove tough stems and ribs from leaves, and cut into bite-sized pieces. Insert a steamer basket in a 3-quart pot with a few inches of water. (The water should come up to the bottom of the steamer basket, but the vegetables should not touch the water.)  Steam the greens for 10-15 minutes, then immediately plunge them into a bowl filled with cold water. Drain, gently squeeze out excess water, and set aside.
An alternative way to cook the greens is to boil them for three minutes, shock in cold water and then sauté.

Meanwhile, in a large dry sauté pan, toast the sesame seeds over medium heat, shaking or stirring constantly until they are fragrant or begin to pop.

Combine the oil, miso, mirin, lemon juice, and tamari in a small bowl. Add the greens to the sauté pan with the seeds in it, turn off the heat, and stir in the dressing, and toss all of the ingredients using non-stick tongs. You are not cooking the greens as much as just warming them up along with the dressing. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 2 servings

Note:  Miso, a traditional Japanese food, is a thick paste used for sauces, soups, and spreads, made by fermenting rice, barley and/or soybeans, with salt and a fermenting agent. The different types of miso available (found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store), such as light, dark, red, vary according to how long they have been fermented, how much salt is added, how sweet it is, etc. In general, light/white miso has a sweeter, more mild flavor, and red/dark is a bit stronger.

Also: Though soybeans are the common ingredient in miso, chickpea-based miso exists for those allergic to soy.

Per serving:  257 calories, 11 grams fat, 4 grams protein, 40 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams dietary fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 376 grams sodium.

Tempura Dipping Sauce

Quick and easy, this Tentsuyu sauce  is the perfect dipping sauce for vegetable tempura or agedashi tofu.  I got this recipe from Everyday Dish TV.   I just happen to be nuts for Agedashi Tofu and vegetable tempura.  However, I don’t care for the taste of the dried fish used in most dashi sauces.  So, this sauce is PERFECT, both in its humanity AND its gorgeous flavor.  Yesterday I published a post here on panko coated onion rings.  In essence, these onion rings are really a simple vegetable tempura.  Since I had the leftover oil from the onion rings, I decided to go ahead and use the same panko/tempura recipe on a sweet potato that has been lurking around on the counter all week.  And I made this sauce to go with it.  Talk about a blissful lunch.
Vegan Tempura Sauce,  Vegan Tentsuyu Sauce

1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
1 tbsp sugar
About 1 tbsp nori shreds or flakes (or very thinly sliced nori)

In a saucepan, combine mirin, soy sauce, water and sugar and bring to a simmering boil. Remove from heat, stir in nori and pour over hot tofu.  Note, I prefer to serve this sauce on the side, for dipping.  Also, I just folded and snipped part of a sheet of nori very finely.