When I became a vegetarian 20-some-odd years ago, there were two things I really missed. The first was beef stroganoff. I’ve since made my own excellent stroganoff using mushrooms instead of beef, and I don’t miss the beef at all. Maybe I should make my stroganoff and share it with you.
The second thing I missed was beef jerky. I know, these are kind of weird things to miss. Kind of low-brow foods. But, they were two things that I loved and they were pretty hard to come by in vegetarian versions.
Fast forward many years, and I still crave beef jerky. But, now I’ve found a great veg version called iGreen Soybeef Jerky. It’s a bit tough and chewy, but you get a nice jaw workout from chewing on it. The packaging is a little annoying, as it’s a huge mess of jerky all stuck together inside one bag (definitely not for eating and driving). And, there’s an international store not too far from me that sells it.
Now, I really like this purchased jerky stuff, but I’m sure it isn’t all natural stuff that I could grow and make into my own jerky. So, as I was noshing on a bag-full the other day, it occurred to me that I might be able to make some on my own vegetarian jerky. So, I went to Google to answer that question. And, I found tons of posts for this Tofu Jerky.
This Tofu Jerky isn’t as tough and chewy as the store-bought stuff. And, it has a little less flavor than the store-bought stuff. But, it was really easy – basically you just do a little mixing and lots of waiting. And, it lasts pretty much indefinitely. You could also call this vegetarian bacon and serve it at the breakfast table. In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t think anyone would be fooled into thinking it’s bacon or even jerky. It isn’t the same. It just isn’t. But, it was pretty good. And, kind of fun to try.
1 pound extra firm tofu
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 clove crushed fresh garlic
1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
¼ cup water or dark beer
3 tablespoons liquid smoke
Drain the tofu, and slice it into long strips on its short side. Strips should be about 4 to 5 millimeters in thickness.
Mix remaining marinade ingredients together. Place the tofu in a single layer in a shallow 13×9-inch baking pan or a rimmed cookie sheet and pour the marinade over the top of the tofu. Let soak for 4 to 6 hours or overnight.
Drain excess liquid (it may be reused) and dry tofu in food dehydrator or 200° F oven. This will take 4 to 8 hours. Flip the tofu over hourly so it dries evenly. Dry the jerky until it is very chewy and all the white areas have disappeared.
Variations: Add some chili powder to make chili jerky. Use Tabasco or ground cayenne if you want it spicy. Add oregano and basil to make pizza jerky.