Wednesday, November 09, 2011

WuBQ tofu and polenta

Cindy and I spent Melbourne Cup day eating at Cafe la Terra and rockin' out at the Tote, reliving our lost youth to the sounds of Snout and Even. While we were there we grabbed a copy of ToteZine #32, which unexpectedly featured recipes! Julian Wu, Melbourne gig-goer extraordinaire and fixture behind the bbq at the Tote, included a couple of his favourite bbq recipes. We decided to to recreate the experience at home - minus Ross McClennan swinging from the rooftops and Wally Kempton singing Fleetwood Mac songs.

We had two WuBQ recipes to work with, one of which required vegetarian-ising. We turned his barbecued chicken wings into barbecued tofu - it was just a straight swap, the marinade stayed as it was. The tofu we had didn't soak up the marinade quite as much as I imagine chicken would, but it still ended up rich with sweet, smoky bbq goodness (especially after we poured a bit of the leftover marinade on top). The use of Milo and coffee in the marinade added a bit of depth to the ketchup-based sauce. It was all pretty sweet, but the liquid smoke and tabasco added enough salt and spice to make for a pretty successful sauce.

The polenta was very simple - just polenta, stock and cheese. It was tasty enough, but really benefited from having the tofu's accompanying sauce on hand to soak up a bit of extra flavour. With a handful of greens on the side, this was a simple rock 'n' roll treat for a busy school night. Julian Wu, we salute you.

WuBQ Tofu
(Adapted from Julian Wu's barbecued chicken wings recipe in the ToteZine)

2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
1 kg tofu, cut into 1cm thin rectangles

1 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 tablespoon Milo
a generous shake of liquid smoke

Mix the marinade ingredients in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until the Milo and coffee have been dissolved into the mixture. Take it off the heart and allow it to cool.

Slather the tofu in the marinade and leave it to soak overnight.

Heat a teaspoon of the oil up in a frying pan (we don't have access to a bbq, but go ahead and use one if you've got it) and cook the tofu over medium heat for about 15 minutes, turning a couple of times. It should brown up nicely, but make sure it doesn't burn.

Cheese polenta rectangles
(Julian Wu's recipe from the ToteZine).

250g polenta
1.5 litres of vegetable stock (we just used Massel 'chicken' stock)
150g grated cheddar cheese

In a large pot, bring the stock to the boil. Reduce it to a simmer and gradually pour the polenta in, stirring constantly. Cook over low heat, stirring the whole time, until the polenta has absorbed all the liquid and is nice and thick.

Take it off the heat, stir through the grated cheese and keep stirring until it's melted through. Pour the mix out into a baking dish, leave to cool and then cut it into strips. When you're ready to eat it, cook it under the grill for about 5 minutes on each side (keep a close eye on it, you want it to go a bit brown and crispy but not burn).

Serve with the bbq tofu, a few spinach leaves and a spoonful or two of leftover marinade.


  1. Milo is the one thing that there doesn't seem to be any vegan substitute for. Damn I miss Milo.

  2. and.. you don't need to publish this, but in your recipe, you say "take it off the heart". That would be kinda painful. "A Heart that hurts is a heart that works" - Juliana Hatfield! :P

  3. That looks very tasty! I'm sure you would have heard this before, but if you press the tofu between paper towels (and I usually put it under a couple of cookbooks) to remove excess water before marinating, it will soak up more of the marinade.

  4. Sounds yummy - though I admit, I don't know what Milo is!

  5. Yuuuuuum! That tofu looks pretty amazing - I don't think I can get milo in Canada but I will defs look out for it for this recipe :D I've found that pan frying polenta gives it a nice crispness that grilling doesn't - just my preference!

  6. Wow!! The marinade is interesting! :) Tofu is the best chameleon ever! :)

  7. I'm about to tell you a really silly/embarrassing story! I met Snout about 10, maybe 12 years ago in Yarraville. It was totally unplanned. I was wearing these utterly RIDICULOUS platformed Airwalk sneakers (Spice Girls style) and I asked the guys to autograph my shoes! They did it but geez, you should have seen the looks they gave me... Lol.

  8. Yes indeed, Milo! (For Megan's benefit, it's this stuff, very common here in Oz.)

    Carla, Mattheworbit & vegiebug - I think this is the first time I've bought Milo since I moved out of my parents' home! It is much sweeter than I remember. In this recipe I reckon a teaspoon of cocoa and a couple teaspoons of sugar would work as a replacement... but they won't do the same thing in a glass of vegan milk. :-/

    Mattheworbit - just because your comment gave me a giggle, I'm going to keep the spelling error in!

    Hi Scarlet Fields! Yes, thanks for the reminder. We're lazy about pressing tofu, and should make the effort more often.

    Vegiebug - I have tried pan frying polenta in the past and it hasn't worked out for me, it tends to stick to the pan and go mushy. :-/ If you've got any extra tips I'd love to hear them!

    DV - yep! I think every bbq sauce needs one or two surprise secret ingredients. :-)

    Appetite Affliction - that is HILARIOUS. While we were walking to Cafe la Terra the other night, Ross from Snout was also exiting the Tote for dinner. We pretended to be cool and disinterested, but we were disappointed that he went for pizza instead of the veg-friendly cafe and relieved that my Snout ringtone didn't go off in the meantime. :-D

  9. Let's make our own damn milo, for drinking and sprinkling on Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavoured Cocoluscious.. I'm gonna look into this :P

  10. Hmmm... That could be a good starting point ;)