According to our new zip code, we’re within the urbs, but our neighborhood is so quiet and residential compared to our prior full-metal city existence that it feels like the suburbia we grew up in. There’s a huge fenced backyard for the Monster to run around in, there are bungalows on all sides, and our slumber is undisturbed by the rumble of the elevated train, the wail of sirens, or the yelling of drunk patrons kicked out of clubs at closing time. Urbane it may be, but urban? Not so much.
That’s why it felt natural to pick up a cheap little kettle barbecue while we were haggling for furniture at garage sales this past weekend, while we somehow never got around to barbecuing in Philly despite the fact that we did have a remarkably large communal yard in front of our place, which could have accommodated a grill. It somehow didn’t feel like the thing to do there, while it definitely felt like the thing to do here.
To inaugurate our second-hand barbecue and take advantage of what we are told is freakishly nice weather that’s going to end any minute now, His Lordship mixed up some kibbe-spiced hamburgers for dinner, while I marinated some tofu with a very simple soy and ginger marinade. The smoky, chewy tofu was substantial but summery over a spinach, red onion and tomato salad with a honey-mustard dressing, and the leftovers will make a great sandwich for lunch tomorrow.
1 10-oz block extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry with paper towels
1/2 cup light vegetable broth
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1 large knob fresh ginger, grated (approximately 2 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons Chinese chili paste with garlic
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
In a shallow dish, combine the broth, soy sauce, ginger, chili paste, honey and five-spice powder. Slice the tofu into 8 thick slabs, and nestle into the marinade in a single layer. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to two days, flipping halfway through.
Barbecue the tofu on an oiled grill until nicely charred on both sides, around 10 minutes per side.
If the weather is not so freakishly pleasant where you are, the tofu can also be baked in its marinade at 375 F until the liquid has been mostly absorbed and the tofu is golden brown, around 30 minutes.