We observe two Jewish holidays in the month of Av, which begins on July 22 this year on the Gregorian calendar.
The Three Weeks, which is a period of mourning ending with Tisha B’Av, a day of fasting and contemplation, runs from sunset July 9 to sunset July 30. The custom is to not eat meat beginning nine days before the fast day of Tisha B’Av — so the tofu kebabs with a miso marinade would be great anytime a vegetarian entrée is needed.
The other holiday is Tu B’Av, a day for love and matchmaking that some call Israel’s Valentine’s Day. While there aren’t many Tu B’Av food traditions, I thought Lafayette resident Rebecca Calahan Klein’s recipe for anticuchos (spicy and smoky beef kebabs) might be a good way to mark the holiday from sunset Aug. 4 to sunset Aug. 5. Rebecca adapted the recipe from one that her grandmother learned in Peru, and I substituted chipotles for Peruvian chili paste.
Serves 3 to 4
- Miso marinade (see below)
- 14 to 16 oz. package firm tofu
- 4 medium zucchini
- 2 medium onions
- 16 medium mushrooms, stems removed
- Oil for grill
Make the marinade. Rinse and drain tofu. Place tofu in kitchen towel between two plates. Place heavy can on top for 20 minutes. Have ready 8 long skewers. If using bamboo, soak 30 minutes in water.
Cut zucchini into 16 slices, each a ½-inch wide. Place in dish with 2 Tbs. water. Microwave on high 1 to 2 minutes until beginning to soften. Drain.
Cut onions into 16 ½-inch chunks. (If chunks separate, reassemble when skewering.) Place in dish with 2 Tbs. water. Microwave on high 2 to 3 minutes until beginning to soften. Drain.
Pat tofu dry. Cut into 16 equal pieces.
Thread zucchini on skewer, followed by onion, tofu and mushroom; add another cycle of that. Then repeat on remaining skewers. Brush kebabs on all sides with marinade. Let sit 20 minutes. Oil grill, stove-top grill pan or indoor electric grill. Heat to medium-high. Brush kebabs with marinade. Grill until bottom tofu has char marks and is slightly brown. Repeat on all sides, brushing with marinade, until kebabs are grilled.
Miso marinade: Stir together until smooth ½ cup white, blond or yellow miso paste, 2 tsp. Asian sesame oil, ¼ cup unsweetened rice vinegar, ¼ cup soy sauce, ¼ cup water, 2 Tbs. agave syrup, and ½ tsp. (or to taste) hot sauce.
Grandma Lillian’s Anticuchos
Serves 4 to 5 as a main course
- 2 lbs. boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 to 4 chipotle chili peppers canned in adobo sauce (see note)
- 12 cloves garlic, crushed
- ½ cup distilled white vinegar
- ½ cup plus ¼ cup vegetable oil, plus extra for grill
- 1 Tbs. plus ⅛ tsp. ground cumin
- 1 Tbs. plus ⅛ tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- ⅛ tsp. smoked or regular paprika
- ⅛ tsp. crumbled dried oregano leaves
- ⅛ tsp. garlic powder
Put beef in a large bowl. Place chipotles (2 for milder, 4 for spicier) in blender with 2 Tbs. water. Purée, adding water if needed, to make a thick paste. Blend in crushed garlic, vinegar, ½ cup oil, 1 Tbs. cumin, 1 Tbs. salt and black pepper. Pour over beef. Stir well. Cover. Marinate in refrigerator for 7 to 8 hours or overnight to tenderize, occasionally turning in marinade.
Have ready 8 long skewers. If using bamboo, soak 30 minutes in water. Thread 6 beef cubes on each skewer. Combine remaining oil, cumin and salt with paprika, oregano and garlic powder for basting liquid. Oil outdoor grill, indoor electric grill or stove-top grill pan. Heat to high and grill beef skewers, turning and basting occasionally until meat is browned and firm but not hard. Cut into a cube to test, aiming for medium rare to medium.
Note: Store remaining chipotles chilled airtight for up to several weeks. Use to flavor stews and other dishes.