I created a monster.
It was 1992. I was living in Colorado, I went to my favorite natural foods store and bought tofu jerky. I said, “I can do this!” and made it. I posted the recipe to Usenet (this was when the WWW was a few pages run by some wacky high-energy physicists) because I thought it was cool and others would appreciate it.
If you do a search of “tofu jerky” on the net, you’ll find this recipe the most. People, none of which know me, have circulated it around and around, usually with credit, pointing to my old CSU email address. I wonder how much mail comes to that address still, most of it certainly spam, with the occaisonal “I love your tofu jerky recipe!” mixed in.
If you use about.com for your recipes, it’s there. It’s even in a book but I can’t recommend you buy it because 1) they’ve retitled it “Original Pepper Tofu Jerky“, and it’s not original (to them, anyway.) 2) Maybe the book gives me a credit, but I don’t know becuase it’s British.
The problem is the recipe’s wrong. It’s way too strong. In retrospect I’ve learned this. Actually, you can modulate it by not draining the tofu, or soaking it for less, but now I recommend cutting it with water, perhaps by a 2:1 ratio of marinade to water, before soaking the tofu. Experiment. I don’t know how you like your tofu jerky. How should I?
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 3 to 4 tbsp liquid smoke
- 1/8 cup water
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove crushed fresh garlic
- 1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 pound firm or extra firm tofu
Cut and drain the tofu. Take a 1-pound cube, cut it in half, and then slice it into strips on its short side. Strips should be about 4 to 5 millimeters in thickness. They may look big, but they’ll shrink to about half their size.
Mix all the marinade ingredients together well. Put the tofu in a single layer in a shallow baking pan or cookie sheet and pour the marinade over it. Let soak for several hours or overnight.
Drain excess liquid (may be reused) and dry tofu in food dehydrator or warm (200 degrees F) oven. This will take 4 to 8 hours, depending on weather. If you live in a sunny, hot, dry climate, you can sun-dry it. It will take all day.
Flip the tofu over hourly so it dries evenly. Tofu jerky is delicious and keeps indefinitely. Dry the jerky until it is very chewy, but not crispy.
Be creative: Use low-sodium soy if you want less salt (it is rather salty). Use tabasco or ground cayenne if you want it hot. Chili powder makes chili jerky. Oregano and basil make pizza jerky.
If you like the recipe, tell me all about it at email@example.com.