With the abundance of ingredients now readily available, eating vegetarian food isn't as difficult as it used to be. With all the condiments, spices, and sauces around, the stigma that veggie-centric dishes are often flavorless no longer rings true.
In this particular char siu tofu recipe, it's all about the marinade, which imparts maximum flavor onto tofu, which can often be bland on its own.
The combination of hoisin, honey, soy sauce, five-spice, and Chinese cooking wine is a traditional one, and leaving the dense curds in the solution overnight, makes its pores absorb all of that liquid. It may not taste exactly like char siu, but it does mimic the spiced, caramelized sweetness of the Chinese recipe.
Char Siu Tofu
500g firm tofu
½ cup hoisin sauce
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
2 tsp five spice
6 bao buns, steamed
½ cup cilantro leaves, picked
½ cup peanuts, toasted and crushed
Divide the 500g block of tofu in half crosswise, then into about 16 squares.
In a bowl, whisk together the hoisin sauce, honey, soy sauce, cooking wine, and five-spice. Take the prepped tofu and let it soak in the char siu marinade. Stir until all sides are evenly coated. Marinate tofu in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, take the tofu and drain excess marinade. Let them rest on a paper towel.
Take the excess marinade and place in a small pot. Heat the marinade over high heat until it starts to boil and has thickened, about 5-8 mins. Set aside.
Lightly oil the grill and place it over high heat. Grill the tofu until cooked and charred, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Once cooked, remove from heat and let slightly cool.
To assemble, add two pieces of char siu tofu, sauce, cilantro, and crushed peanuts on a steamed bao bun.
Repeat with the remaining bao buns and serve.