Tofuchetta (stuffed, grilled tofu, Sienese style)

This recipe is inspired by Mark Bittman's recipe for Ducketta. Bittman adopts a traditional Italian dish—porchetta, pork stuffed with aromtic herbs and roasted—using duck breasts instead. Here I take this in a vegetarian direction by using tofu instead—and it could go complete vegan.

The recipe is a baseline for exploration. The idea behind the marinade is to get some umami savouriness into the tofu, and some of the sorts of flavouring that you might find in Chinese style mock duck. It's turned out very well; a key seem to be textures, the crusty outside of the tofu, chewy inside, and juicy crunchy stuffing. This did turn out juicier than I expected. I think a key might be not squeezing out the tofu too much, and the bit of water I used in the marinade. .


Freeze a block of extra firm tofu (I used a 454 g block), then thaw. (Freezing and thawing gives an extra chewy texture and creates a spongy texture that's ready to suck in the marinade). Cut into sizes good for stuffing; I cut my block into four pieces, each about 2" square by 1/2" deep. Squeeze out the water from the tofu, but don't wring it entirely dry.

Prepare a marinade, using miso, fish sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil. I used about a tablespoon of each. Beat vigorously to emulsify, thin a bit with water, so it's not a thick paste, but not quite watery either, somewhat like a salad dressing rather than a ketchup--you want it to go into the tofu. Sweeten to taste with some stevia (you could use sugar if you are not concerned about diabetes and glucose). You could substitute soy for fish sauce for a vegan version.

Put tofu in small baking dish. Brush the marinade into the tofu, pour on the remaining marinade, and turn to coat. Let marinade for 20 minutes to 2 hours.

Prepare the stuffing: place 2-4 cloves of garlic, two sprigs of rosemary (leaves only) and two teaspoons of fennel seeds on cutting board; add a sprinkle of sea salt; then chop until very fine. Put in bowl, grate in some parmesan (substitute brewer's yeast for vegan), and mix with a fork. Then drizzle in good olive oil, while mixing, until the mixture clings together in a moist paste.

Using a paring knife, cut a slit in each piece of tofu, along the long side. Put your fingers on the sides at the ends of the slit and pinch to pop it open. Using fingers, stuff the tofu by pushing in a bit of stuffing to the bottom of the slit, which will prop the pocket open, then adding more stuffing. Pack it densely, but don't push it together too much.

Preheat your grill to medium-low. You might want to oil the grate before putting on the tofu. Grill tofu until brown and crusty, about 5-6 minutes a side.