For a vegetarian, one of the major challenges of vacationing is dining out, and of course where you go in your travels can make all the difference. Recently my journeys took me to Grand Cayman Island in the Caribbean, south of Cuba. My prior experience of island dining was less than impressive. However, this experience was different. I found the local grocery stores stocked with non-meat alternatives and there are vegetarian choices on every dinner menu. There are also exclusively vegetarian places offering lots of salads and fresh produce.
Grand Cayman boasts an eclectic blend of excellent ethnic restaurants – from Thai, Indian, and Italian to authentic island fare, all beautifully prepared and presented. One dish I had that I really enjoyed because it was spicy, tasty, local, and different was Tofu Jerk on a bed a vegetables.
Jerk is a spice mixture usually used to prepare pork and chicken, so this was a nice surprise that allowed me to sample local cuisine. There really wasn’t much to it – the recipe relies on the famous Jerk spice or marinade which has, as its key ingredient, fiery hot peppers along with allspice and cane sugar.
Try my version different ways with either tofu, tempeh, or vegetables. It really is worth trying, especially if you like heat and spice. There are many authentic jerk seasonings (available even at your local grocery store) and each is unique. Here is what I had and am passing on to you:
1 lb. pressed tofu slices, cubed or cut into strips (or tempeh)
2 T. vegetable oil
1-2 t. Jerk marinade
Carefully toss tofu with jerk spice and oil. Let the tofu marinate for at least an hour, or overnight for more intensity. After the flavor is infused, grill over high heat in a grill pan, or any heavy cast iron skillet.
Grilling implies that the pan is fairly dry but brushed with a little oil – since neither tofu or tempeh contain much fat, it requires a little help. You also have the option of grilling the tofu outside, just brush the slabs with oil and marinade mixture and grill slowly, until the tofu is a rich golden brown.
Serve this spicy boost of protein on a bed of julienne stir-fried yellow summer squash and carrots. Make sure your squash and carrots are still firm yet tender. Lightly fried plantain on the side is a great idea, as it adds a sweet, savory flavor to the menu.
I might prepare this on a future program, but for now it is a exclusive sneak peek. Enjoy it with your favorite Island cocktail.