Thai Salad with Slow-Cooked Tofu in Pineapple Barbecue Sauce

by on September 12, 2011
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Thai Salad with Slow-Cooked Tofu in Pineapple Barbecue Sauce

One of the highlights of my trip to Portland happened after Vida Vegan Con was over. That Sunday night, I got to meet my friend and long-time reader Maria, whom many of you know from the comments as Moonwatcher. Maria traveled ten hours to visit her son in Portland and timed her trip so that she’d be in town at the same time I was. On Sunday night, Maria, her son Mike, and his girlfriend Kelly picked me up at my hotel and whisked me off to dinner at Blossoming Lotus, where a vegan friend of theirs joined us. The meal was delicious but what made the dinner special was sharing it with someone I’ve gotten to know by email and, since we live across the country from each other, never thought I’d get to meet in person. Maria had mentioned Mike and Kelly often in her emails, and it was a joy to get to meet them all.

Maria turned out to be just as warm and perceptive in person as she is in her emails. She’s an expert in adapting my recipes to make them gluten free, so if you’re looking for help in that area, be sure to search the blog for her comments. One day I will have to get her to write a guest post about the reasons she follows a low-fat vegan diet and how it’s improved her health. She is an inspiration!

Maria and me at Blossoming Lotus

iPhone photo of Maria and me at Blossoming Lotus

At the time of our dinner, I was still suffering from a sinus infection and was taking antibiotics that left me with no appetite and a bad taste in my mouth. All weekend I’d been barely picking at the probably delicious vegan food we’d been served at the conference, but nothing tasted good to me. When we got to Blossoming Lotus, I was in the mood for comfort food, so I ordered a bowl of spicy lentil soup, which was so flavorful that it was the first thing I felt like I’d actually tasted all weekend, and its warmth was soothing. Though I was glad I’d ordered it, I couldn’t help but wish I’d been up for some of the interesting salads on the menu. The one that caught my eye was the Crispy Thai Barbecue Salad, which was described as “romaine, mixed greens, shredded cabbage, carrot, cucumber, raisins, crispy rice sticks, curried cashews and Thai spiced barbecue soy curls, with creamy sweet ginger dressing, fresh herbs and toasted coconut.”

When I got back home to Mississippi, I was still thinking of “the salad that got away” and resolved to make my own version. I wanted to use tofu instead of soy curls, just because it’s less processed, and I wanted to make a barbecue sauce that is free of refined sugar. Have you ever looked at a barbecue sauce recipe? Almost invariably it contains sugar, corn syrup, molasses, honey, agave, or all of the above! I needed to find ingredients that would give me the sweet-sour taste of bbq sauce without using sugar. So I turned to one of my current favorite foods, pineapple, and added pitted dates for some natural sugar. And, to thoroughly infuse the tofu with flavor, I first froze it, making it porous and spongy, and then cooked it all day in my crock pot. (Since meeting Kathy Hester, author of The Vegan Slow Cooker, in Portland, I’ve realized how much I’ve been neglecting that appliance.)

I served the tofu over a mixture of spinach, romaine, and red cabbage lightly dressed with my Low-Fat Tahini Dressing and accompanied by raisins, raw almonds, and clover sprouts. It was one of the best salads I’ve ever had! Check out the recipe below, along with some important announcements.

Thai Salad with Slow-Cooked Tofu in Pineapple Barbecue Sauce

Special Announcements

  • If you’re a VegNews magazine subscriber, look for my recipe and photo of Pumpkin Oatmeal Cakes with Apple-Pecan Compote in the current issue. As part of a bloggers’ challenge, I was asked earlier this summer to make a recipe with pumpkin (and believe me, it wasn’t easy to find pumpkin in July!) I tried to make something fairly healthy, with no refined sugar or flour, yet still be something VegNews readers would want to eat. Let me know if you try it! I’ll post the recipe here sometime in the future.
  • My blog and website will be moving to a larger server tonight at midnight Pacific time. You shouldn’t notice any change, unless you just happen to be looking for a recipe while the move is happening. It shouldn’t take more than an hour, and I apologize in advance for the inconvenience.

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{ 96 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lazy Smurf September 12, 2011 at 9:50 am

That sounds like the most terrific salad ever! I have to make it! I just started getting into salads this summer and now I’m hooked, finally.

I’m surprised you said tofu was less processed than soy curls, I thought it was the other way around but I don’t know much about either really, I’ll have to research.


2 SusanV September 12, 2011 at 10:22 am

Hope you’ll give it a try! You may be right about the soy curls. Apparently they contain the whole soybean, while tofu is just the milk. My test for “processedness” is if I can make it in my own kitchen, it’s less processed, and I’ve made tofu but can’t figure out how they make soy curls.


3 Lazy Smurf September 12, 2011 at 10:47 am

Ha! I want to make soy curls too! From the ingredients it seems like it is just dehydrated soy beans but there has to be more to it than that.


4 Marian Hamilton September 12, 2011 at 10:25 am

Hi, Susan! 🙂
The photo is simply grand – so much love shining out to us on this side of the computer screen. Please don’t take the photo down……

Can’t WAIT to try this recipe!
PS: one of these days you & I will get to meet in person too – I believe it!


5 SusanV September 12, 2011 at 10:40 am

Thanks, Marian! I’m looking forward to meeting you, too. Next time I’m anywhere near your area, we’ll have to get together!


6 kensington cooker September 12, 2011 at 10:50 am

How nice to see Moonwatcher revealed. I’ve always enjoyed her graceful writing and broad inventiveness.
If using the crockpot for this recipe, Susan, would a six-quart be too large to work right? All I have is a one-quart and a six-quart.
Thank you, Kensington Cooker


7 SusanV September 12, 2011 at 6:25 pm

I think the six quart will be fine. I used my Fagor multi-cooker, and it’s six quarts.


8 Arielle (Your Vegan Girlfriend) September 12, 2011 at 11:43 am

Wowwwweeeee this looks too good! Been wanting to do a BBQ salad forever and this just went to the top of the “to make” list. Love the pineapple twist. Thanks Susan!


9 Liz @ Southern Charm September 12, 2011 at 11:55 am

This looks amazing! Love the flavors! Can’t wait to try it out 🙂


10 Jackie Forman September 12, 2011 at 12:25 pm

I pounce on your emails the minute they come! You are the shining silver thread holding me to the vow to stay at least vegetarian, if not vegan! For someone who is definitely not a cook, it is a challenge – I do better at gardening!
Anyway, two blocks of tofu are now in the freezer and I shall try your dish tomorrow, Saints willing …..! Thank you.

PS I really don’t know how to cook tofu and hate it when it comes out chewy on the outside. When we went to new Jersey recently we found a vegetarian restaurant where they served tofu and it was sooo good. Tasted very like chicken and there was none of that rubbery outside shell on it. How did they do that?


11 SusanV September 12, 2011 at 6:24 pm

Hmmm. It sounds like they probably didn’t fry it. I’ve noticed that it has that shell when it’s deep fried, but if you just pan-fry it (which you can do without oil) or bake it, it doesn’t get that crust unless you overcook it. Check out my Baked Tofu and Pan-Fried Tofu.

Frozen tofu won’t get that crust on it, but it is more chewy than regular tofu, so I hope you still enjoy it.


12 moonwatcher September 12, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Dear Susan,

Thank you for this kind and lovely mention of our wonderful dinner and time together. The recipe looks fantastic!! Since I need to avoid sugar as much as possible for my health, I use dates and pineapple as sweetening agents often, so I got really excited when I saw what was in this sauce–excited enough to consider buying a crock pot at the Salvation Army, though I’m supposed to be downsizing! Thanks again for a lovely meet up, and now a great recipe reminiscent of Blossoming Lotus.

Marian and kensington, thanks, too, for your kind comments about the photo and my comments on Susan’s blog. Embarrassing in the most delightful kind of way!!




13 Marian Hamilton September 12, 2011 at 12:30 pm

It would be lovely to have a meet-up w/ Susan & all her MANY blog followers – maybe it will happen someday – SOON??? (I’m envious of your having met Susan AND shared a meal w/ her, but so happy for you too!) xxMarian


14 SusanV September 12, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Thank YOU for the dinner, the company, and your always helpful comments. I really do hope I can one day get you to write about your diet, as well as provide us with one of your gluten-free recipes. I think it would be helpful to others who come to this site looking to improve their health.

I hope you won’t let the lack of a crock pot keep you from making the recipe. Notice that I have oven instructions!


15 Kimberly LaMendola September 12, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Hi Susan – just a question on the process of freezing the tofu, thawing, and then using. Can you tell me why you do this for this particular dish? Just curious! Thanks and love love love your recipes and approach to good food, good cooking, good life!


16 SusanV September 12, 2011 at 6:15 pm

When you freeze tofu, a weird thing happens. The texture totally changes so that it’s not smooth anymore but a little rougher, chewier, and very spongy. I thought frozen tofu would work better for this dish because it would suck the sauce up like a sponge and because after it’s frozen, it’s a little tougher so it would hold up well in the crockpot and not fall apart. I don’t like the texture of frozen tofu for everything, but every now and then it makes an interesting change.


17 Kathy Hester September 12, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Yum, I’m impressed with all your slow cooking these days! (Of course I’m always impressed with your awesome recipes!)


18 GetSkinnyGoVegan September 12, 2011 at 12:40 pm

THANK YOU for a slow cooker recipe!!! I nearly banished ours forever without ever having had using it, until I made nearly every single recipe from The Indian Slow Cooker (you can see all the yummy stuff I made from it on my blog)-and LOVE that there is more slow cooker stuff!!!! And that the vegans have finally realized the niche-I always overlooked it because of the vegan thing, and this has become the easiest way for me to make food for hubby & dogs (organic rice and beans) and just love the simplicity. This recipe looks amazing!! Thank you!!


19 moonwatcher September 12, 2011 at 12:51 pm

ps: Susan, had to add that I just loved that phrase “the salad that got away.” 🙂

I think Marian’s idea about a meet-up of you and your blog followers would be loads of fun. Who knows, maybe someday. . .:)



20 SusanV September 12, 2011 at 6:12 pm

I would love that–a big Fatfree Vegan meet-up! I’ll have to figure out a way to make that happen.


21 ti April 29, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Great idea!


22 Laina September 12, 2011 at 2:15 pm

I was so excited to get this new recipe this morning. Even more excited because I knew I had frozen tofu. So I reached for my crock pot off the top of the refrigerator and dropped it onto my counter, plugged it in………….. forged through my freezer contents and pulled out the tofu………….and, and……….but I only had one. 🙁 Forgot I used the other for a different recipe. So I’ll make your Vindaloo vegetables I was planning on making this week anyway. 🙂

But, I did have another container of tofu in the fridge, so I grabbed it and placed it in the freezer and popped the frozen into the fridge. Tomorrow awaits! Or maybe later tonight. I could plug it in right before I go to bed and it will be awaiting my taste test, first thing in the morning. 🙂 But then again, all the wonderful aromas I anticipate will waft into my bedroom and probably awaken me and keep me up all night. 🙂

Anyway, looks fabulous and I can’t wait to try it, Susan. Will report back tomorrow.

And I agree with everyone, how nice to meet up with Maria aka Moonwatcher. I feel like I know her somewhat from all the posts and I feel that way about others who normally leave a comment. And what a great picture of you both!!!


23 SusanV September 12, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Thanks, Laina! I hope you get a chance to try it soon. I haven’t made Vindaloo vegetables in a while, but now you’ve got me thinking about it!


24 Michelle September 12, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I gave my crock pot away since I never used it. Could the tofu be baked? If so, for how long on what temperature?


25 SusanV September 12, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Michelle, look at the last paragraph of the recipe for baking instructions. Hope you enjoy it!


26 Dawn September 12, 2011 at 3:27 pm

All I can say to this one is WOW. It really does sound amazing. And I’m with you on the salad that got away. I would have been remembering that one too.


27 Sarah Bergeron September 12, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Hi Susan,
I would love to make this sauce. I am wondering if you can think of a good substitute for the vinegar. Lemon juice? I just can’t get over how much I dislike vinegar, and though I know it lurks in almost everything, I can’t bring myself to cook with it.


28 SusanV September 12, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Sarah, just use a little extra lime or lemon juice instead of the vinegar. It just adds a little tartness, so anything tart should work.


29 Jill Princehouse September 13, 2011 at 12:04 am

Susan: I love the photo of you and Maria at Blossoming Lotus. I live on the Oregon coast at Oceanside and when we go to Portland, BL is our favorite restaurant. However, it’s so popular, we can’t always get in. When the line is out on the street, we drive by without getting to eat there. :o(


30 Nat Co. September 13, 2011 at 12:38 am

I tried to make a Thai dish the other night and failed! This looks great 🙂 I will try this recipe soon!


31 Gena September 13, 2011 at 5:48 am

Delicious! I didn’t even know one could slow cook tofu–and since it’s an ingredient I struggle with, I’m always looking for ideas. I’ll be testing this for sure 🙂


32 Chana September 13, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Hi Susan
I love your site and look forward to reading your new posts! I just wanted to tell you I make your tofu frittatas all the time and it’s delicious! Last week I made it with kale sun dried tomatoes and shredded cabbage. Ee ate it with a side of sautéd kale and leeks in teriyaki. DIVINE!!!
thanks so much for all the great inspiration!


33 Laina September 13, 2011 at 5:09 pm

I made this last night and allowed it to cook while I was sleeping. And oh my, this is so flavorful…………so delicious…………so stupendous………so mind-blowing good!!! 🙂 It’s going to be one of my top ten recipes……… it’s that good!!!

Gosh, Susan, I would love to be able to come up with recipes like this. You are so gifted. Thank you so very much!!!!

Laina 🙂


34 JEssica September 13, 2011 at 5:43 pm



35 janet September 13, 2011 at 6:46 pm

This looks wicked awesome. I finally have a slow cooker, so I will definitely be trying this out… I was holding out on your squash and tempeh peanut stew until I had a slow cooker and finally when I have the slow cooker, squash season is nigh! 🙂


36 Kim September 14, 2011 at 9:56 am

Susan I have a question that may seem ridiculous to everyone who seems to know the answer but here goes anyway. When you freeze the tofu, do you take it out of the water and packaging, or just freeze the entire package? Thanks. Kim


37 SusanV September 14, 2011 at 10:06 am

Kim, that’s an excellent question! You can do it either way. I just put the unopened package in the freezer, but other people drain off the water, wrap the tofu in plastic wrap, and freeze it. It will definitely take less time to thaw if you drain it first, but I think it will be more prone to freezer burn. Since I like to keep a block of tofu in the freezer at all times, keeping it in the water pack works best for me.


38 Kate September 14, 2011 at 12:20 pm

This looks super delicious! Your site is my number one place to go when I am looking for recipes to make for myself and my husband. I wish my kids were more adventuresome with their food choices :0( Thank you so much!


39 Leslie Paquette September 14, 2011 at 12:51 pm

This looks delicious!! I will definitely be making this for dinner in the next few days. I have never made any recipes using tofu that has been frozen so I’m very interested to try it. Probably a stupid question but, we are following the crockpot OR oven directions not both, correct? Does it come out better using the crockpot method? I appreciate the fact that this recipe is lower in sodium too. Thanks!!


40 SusanV September 14, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Oops, my fault in writing bad directions! Yes, use the crockpot or the oven, not both. I’ll see if I can find a way to reword it.

Personally, I like the flavor that slow-cooking gives the tofu, though it does mellow out the seasonings so that even with two chile peppers, it’s not spicy. But if you like things spicy, the oven method may be better.


41 Epicurean Arnika September 15, 2011 at 11:11 am

I cooked this entire dish yesterday and the PIneapple Barbecue Sauce was absolutely amazing (it was all amazing). My boyfriend couldn’t get enough of it!

Thank you for your delicious recipe!!!


42 mary @ what's cookin with mary September 15, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Two of my favorite things… tofu and my crockpot. This looks and sounds amazing. Thanks for this recipe Susan. There aren’t enough recipes out there with tofu in the slowcooker imo. 🙂


43 janet September 16, 2011 at 7:57 am

I’ve just got the tofu in my crock pot this a.m. Just wondering how much you
consider a serving size. 239 calories. Is that 1/2 cup or 1 cup?

Also, if you have any special recipes for Thanksgiving, could you please post them. I’ve already have a really good Pumpkin pie recipe, but would like an apple cobbler recipe & maybe some traditional Thanksgiving dishes.
Also, where can I purchase your cookbook & how much is it?



44 SusanV September 16, 2011 at 8:19 am

Hi Janet–The best way to get an accurate serving size is to take the cooked tofu and divide it into 6 equal servings right after it’s cooked. How large your tofu cubes are and other factors can make it measure more or less, so the best way is to divide it before you use any of it. I determine the number of servings by seeing how many servings my family actually gets out of a recipe.

I have a good number of Thankgiving-ish dishes already posted. Check my Holidays section, which includes holidays throughout the year.

Unfortunately, I don’t have my own cookbook yet, but I’m the photographer for (and contributed a few recipes to) Vegan Holiday Kitchen, by Nava Atlas, coming out on November 1.


45 Ariel September 16, 2011 at 5:40 pm

I don’t think soy curls are more processed than tofu – they are just extruded and dried soybeans, more “whole food” than tofu anyway.

The salad at Blossoming Lotus is seriously good – one of my regular favorites when I get a chance to go there!


46 Maggie September 17, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Hi Susan,

I’m a newbie in the vegan eating world, been following this dietary method for just a couple of weeks, your blog and recipes have helped me a lot. I don’t want to gain weight and have been following Weight Watchers although eating completely vegan.

There is a question I have, I made the “riduculously east curried tofu scamble” today and it is super easy, which was good because this was my first tofu cooking foray and the recipe was great and my dish turned out great, but I wanted to know if “nutrtional yeast” is the same as active dry yeast. I ommitted this ingrediant because I wasn’t sure, please let me know. If you could tell me a brand to get if I am wrong, I would appreciate it. I live in New York City, and have access to most every kind of food,

Thank you Susan, you’re making my vegan transition pretty easy.

Maggie Carey


47 SusanV September 17, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Maggie, I’m glad you left that yeast out! Active dry yeast is completely different from nutritional yeast and would give your tofu a terrible flavor. You should be able to find nutritional yeast at Whole Foods or any natural food store. It comes in yellow flakes and is often in the bulk bins section.


48 Gavin P (@thezenofgavin) September 19, 2011 at 8:19 am

There seems to be a lot of sauce for cooking the tofu, just wondering would you recommend saving the sauce after to future recipes? Does the sauce cook down a lot over the 8 hours?


49 SusanV September 19, 2011 at 8:35 am

Oh yeah–it cooks down a little and gets absorbed into the tofu. When it’s done, you shouldn’t have any leftover. And when you add the sauce to the tofu, it really won’t feel like a lot, just enough to coat all the tofu lightly.


50 Joann September 19, 2011 at 8:34 am

How great to have a new friend you feel a connection with. And this recipe…wow. I love to cook things in the slow cooker on a busy day. I would have never tried tofu…but now I will. Do you freeze the tofu in bag with water and all?


51 SusanV September 19, 2011 at 8:37 am

I just stick it in the fridge in its package. You can also drain it and then freeze it, which makes it thaw more quickly.


52 Jessie September 19, 2011 at 6:09 pm

I just made this today and it was so delicious, I was veggie for 5 years and just recently turned vegans and I have made probably made all of your dishes now I love them so much, I also love love love the pumpkin butter.

Thanks for making it so easy to be vegan


53 Robert Gagne September 21, 2011 at 10:56 am

Did you use fresh or canned crushed pineapple? How do you think fresh vs. canned would affect this dish?


54 SusanV September 21, 2011 at 11:01 am

I used canned, but I think fresh would work if it is very juicy. The juice from the pineapple is really important for making the sauce the right consistency.


55 Rae September 26, 2011 at 2:43 am

OoOo dates, ey? It seems odd but I don’t see why not. After all, they’re squishy and sweet. I think I’ll bookmark this and make it for my dude. He loves BBQ!

Thanks 🙂


56 SJ Cory September 26, 2011 at 1:47 pm

The tofu in the picture looks like it is crunchy. Would the sauce not make it softer? I’m going to try this recipe this week. It looks very good.


57 SusanV September 26, 2011 at 1:56 pm

It’s not crunchy at all, but it’s very firm due to being frozen first. The sauce penetrates it and clings to it, but it’s not crunchy like fried tofu.


58 Lori September 29, 2011 at 9:10 pm

I made this today. The taste was excellent. We were quite surprised with the tanginess of the BBQ sauce. Thanks for posting.


59 Kumquat September 26, 2011 at 5:07 pm

I have never thought to cook tofu in the slow cooker. I’m going to try it this week. Thanks!

As far as freezing tofu goes, I drain and press my tofu, cut it into cubes and THEN freeze it. Then it goes straight from freezer bag to skillet, minus the days of defrosting time and still turns out great.


60 Gourmandelle October 9, 2011 at 7:33 am

Great recipe, I will definitely try it! The photo is beautiful also!

Gourmandelle from Gourmandelle Lifestyle Blog


61 moonwatcher November 14, 2011 at 11:47 am

Dear Susan,

I’m afraid I have a rather embarrassing tale to tell about my attempt to make this lovely recipe inspired by our wonderful dinner together at the Blossoming Lotus. As you know, this Autumn has been the season for me to fall in love for the first time in my life with the prospect of using a slow cooker. When you posted this, although I could have done it in the oven, I vowed that I would get one and try it that way. Then you had the wonderful review of Kathy Hester’s book and I was truly hooked. My dear friend LS, who comes nearly each week to help me clean and do errands, insisted I take an extra she had that had been given to her new, but which she had only used once, preferring the one she already had. So I embarked on a honeymoon with the slow cooker. Everything I tried came out fine and I was cast under a spell. Meanwhile the two packages of tofu waited in the freezer for a time I could make the whole recipe and bring it somewhere to share.
That time came a couple of weekends ago. Everything seemed to go fine—the thawing out process for the tofu went perfectly, I had all the ingredients, the sauce make up fine, etc., and I plopped it all in, awaiting tofu that looked like the photo that I could take on rice or greens to a potluck.
Then life happened. There turned out to be a conflict with another engagement and I had a ride to that one, but not to the potluck. And when the time for the tofu to be ready came, there was still a lot of sauce, and the tofu had not really absorbed enough of it to taste like it. I was disappointed, and had to leave for the other engagement. Here’s where I went temporarily insane. I will blame it on the fact that someone I hadn’t seen in months showed up impromptu with the surprise of a last year’s Christmas present for me, and then the person that was giving me a ride to the non-potluck engagement. I had never put anything on “high” before, but I thought, 2 hours on high won’t hurt.
Well, I was actually gone closer to 3 hours. And it did hurt. Sure, the tofu tasted better as it was definitely infused more with the sauce, but on one side where the cooker had a hot spot, the sauce and tofu were blackened and GLUED to the ceramic pot. I took out the bulk of the recipe which tasted fine, though the sauce never absorbed—I am thinking I did not blend it smooth enough for that—and began the long process of soaking and hoping and scrubbing the ceramic liner. I got out what I could and soaked it in warm soapy water overnight. I looked up safe remedies on the internet. I made baking soda paste. I put a vinegar-water solution in it on low for 5 hours. I made another paste with vinegar and cream of tartar. Slowly slowly the black death came off. At the last of it, I went temporary insane again (this time I cannot blame it on the unexpected belated generosity of a friend) and couldn’t resist scraping it with a teaspoon. It all seemed to come out perfectly. I promptly filled the clean bowl with water and placed a smaller one with my steel cut oats in it for overnight.
The oats came out fine, and the bowl seemed fine. Next morning I made a minestrone in it. By the time I took the minestrone out, though, and cleaned up the bowl, I could see that the glaze had eroded, and where I had used the spoon were tiny scratch marks into something metal looking. Alas, I had ruined the crock.
Chastened and sorry, but undeterred, I spent last week shopping for another slow cooker. There is a happy ending, both for the tofu recipe and a new slow cooker. Iwas able to find another one, same size, better quality, and also with the Keep Warm setting that I had especially fallen in love with. And the tofu? Though I was too traumatized by my failure to eat much of it, I gave some to two different omni friends whose eyes got big when they tasted it. They were each glad to bring a container home with them. So, in the end, I got to share the tofu, and I also became sadder but wiser about how to use a slow cooker.
This is but one of many tales about how moonwatcher, though thought of as a good cook, in some circles, has a knack for burning things in ways that have never occurred before. Best one is the plastic spoon which melted into itself in a non-stick skillet as she was beginning this no fat cooking journey. . .but that’s a tale for another time. I just want others to feel free to press on even after the most appalling mistakes. Your recipes are always worth it.

thanks for the recipe, and happy cooking to all of us, with an emphasis on slow, for me, anyway ☺



62 Susan Voisin November 14, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Dear moonwatcher, thank you for sharing this embarrassing but (I apologize) humorous yet slightly tragic tale. I’m glad things came out okay in the end, though I hate that you had to buy a new slow cooker. I’m afraid you may never want to cook tofu in it again, though!

I feel bad that the sauce wasn’t absorbed enough after the first round of cooking. I think that my cooker runs hot because recipes often seem done in less time than the instructions say. I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t trust my slow-cooker recipes anymore–better to stick with Kathy’s! 🙂


63 moonwatcher November 15, 2011 at 10:07 am

Oh Susan, I’m glad you thought it was funny, because what else is there when we screw up? To paraphrase Alice Walker from The Chicken Chronicles, This is the sound of me being wrong:


I’ll admit I’m a little gunshy of trying tofu again for a while. But, it all turned out, and I got a great deal on a higher quality cooker. I hardly spent anything. And even the friend who gave me the other said it wasn’t high quality, and that it may have malfunctioned all on its own, so just as well. I mean there are a million rationalizations at my disposal to use as band-aids. My favorite one is that this is an excuse to customize my slow cooker needs, so I did. Doesn’t Jeff Goldblum’s character in The Big Chill (boy am I dating myself) say something about being able to go so long without sex, but then ask who has ever gotten through the day without a good rationalization? Hahahahaha again. . .so no worries. . .I did, with my order of small slow cooker on Amazon, also order Kathy’s book, but it’s not available yet. . .not sure why. . .but I’m waiting. Meantime there’s a wealth of things on the web. Two favorites have been from the slow cooker section of your web site. Sloppy Lentils and a pumpkin bread pudding I made sugar free and gluten free by using date syrup and millet bread. I even halved the recipe and it came out fine. So there’s always a silver lining, if we let go of the lead one first (spoon scratches and all)!! 🙂




64 Fiona December 1, 2011 at 5:56 am

Just had this for dinner! The sauce is awesome – very flavorful, easy, and all around delicious – so I will definitely be using this BBQ sauce recipe for other things. I think I would prefer to bake mine in the oven next time instead of the slow cooker and maybe use something else instead of tofu – I’m just not a huge fan of tofu in big chunks. I also didn’t much like it over salad – next time I think I would make it over rice to sop up all the delicious leftover sauce. My sauce was too hot and watery for salad leaves. I read some of the comments below and I like the idea of a big Fat Free Vegan meetup too!


65 Fiona December 1, 2011 at 6:06 am

Meant to mention that mine turned out the same way that Moonwatcher’s did – the tofu didn’t absorb the sauce and the tofu chunks were still quite bland (but the sauce was amazing). I have a multicooker with a slow cooker function that runs extremely hot (8 hour recipes are done in 2.5-3) so I don’t know if that makes a difference or not.


66 Diane Robuck August 7, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Hi Susan,
It has been a while since I posted! I am recovering well after the arteriorgram in February and working on vegan, but also vegetarian. You use tofu in some of your recipes and I am not sure I can take the spongy texture. I have noticed some of your recipes being cut smaller and baked. I haven’t tried them yet. Do you have advice for someone who is not a big fan of tofu? Thank you.



67 Susan Voisin August 7, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Diane, I am so glad to hear you are recovering well. As for tofu, if you don’t like the texture, I think your best bet is baked. If you use extra-firm and season it first, it isn’t spongy at all. I hope you’ll give one of those recipes a try.


68 Lori September 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Take a peek at my comment below – #70. There is none of the spongy texture left after grilling on a panini press, and I also think a Foreman grill work do the trick. You can even give the grill or press a little smoosh to get rid of the excess water during cooking.


69 Andie August 9, 2012 at 8:44 am

Even people who loathe tofu and all things vegan (not me, but my mother in law), can appreciate this dish. I will be making it again and again. Even the two year old said it was “very good much”



70 Alter Egon August 10, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Hey Susan,

that recipe looks really amazing, I think about making this for sunday.
Since I have no slow cooker I was wondering if a regular cooking pan with a steaming insert might work as well. What would you say?

Thank you,
Best from Germany,

Daniel. 🙂


71 Susan Voisin August 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Yes, that should work just fine and take a lot less time. Hope you enjoy it!


72 Lori September 13, 2012 at 11:57 am

Frequent reader, infrequent commenter. 🙂 I love your recipes, and this tofu looking amazing!

I have been meaning to share, and this recipe reminded me, of a tofu trick I learned recently. There is a bahn mi shop in my neighborhood where they use a panini press to cook the tofu. They cook it to order, quickly, and it has a great texture. I tried this at home with AWESOME results. I just slice it, give it a pat with paper towels and grill it on the press (with the press closed to cook both sides). You can either just spray the grill with nonstick or brush it with a fattening mess of sesame oil and tamari like me and cook to your desired doneness. I like mine nice and crispy on the outside, and it really only takes about 5 minutes rather than the ten years it always takes when I bake it. It works for pretty much anything – I add it to stir fry, cut it up for tacos or sushi, or cover it in gravy with potatoes as a side. And I love it for homemade bahn mi of course!

Thank you for all your wonderful recipes!


73 Susan Voisin September 13, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Great suggestion! Thanks!


74 Brittany Black October 19, 2012 at 12:45 pm

This looks amazing! I was wondering what the texture of the tofu turned out to be? Would it be feasible to make them into little tofu BBQ bites and have them as finger food at a party? (With toothpicks if course)


75 Susan Voisin October 19, 2012 at 12:57 pm

I’m sure it would be fine on toothpicks. Because the tofu is frozen first, it’s spongier and sturdier than tofu usually is, so it holds together well.


76 Hiral January 3, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Why we need to freeze tofu and then defrost it. why can’t we use it directly from the pouch? Please explain the reasoning behind it.


77 Susan Voisin January 3, 2013 at 2:03 pm

As I mentioned, freezing tofu gives it a chewy, spongy texture that soaks up the sauce better.


78 Hiral January 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Great Thank you will try


79 Lila April 29, 2013 at 11:01 am

Hi Susan,
I find that when I freeze tofu I like the texture, but it becomes so porous that it immediately soaks up so much marinade, or whatever, that it is just too strong. I’m thinking specifically of my chicken sate recipe that I veganized, which has a tamari sauce. As soon as I poured it over the thawed tofu, it disappeared. I guess the key is just to use a lot less salty ingredients, huh?


80 Christine May 9, 2013 at 7:32 am

Hello Susan,
FFV is my go-to for recipes, and have always had great success. However, this morning came down to inspect my crock pot of crispy bbq tofu and found a congealed mess. The tofu has a foamy consistency and breaks apart when trying to remove it from the crock pot. Yes, I squeezed the water out of it after dethawing.

Trying to think of a way to salvage this into something so as not to be wasteful of all the ingredients. Your thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated.


81 Susan Voisin May 9, 2013 at 7:59 am

I’m so sorry, Christine, I don’t know why that happened. Does it seem like too much of the sauce boiled away? Maybe you could add more sauce and use it like sloppy joes. I would hate for all those ingredients to go to waste.


82 Christine May 9, 2013 at 9:07 am

Thanks for the idea about sloppy joes. There is plenty of sauce, so that wasn’t the problem, it is more like the tofu became part of the sauce rather than holding its shape. Placing the tofu into the pot initially, it seemed firm enough. Will try again another time with baking the tofu.

Many thanks for your blog. It really is my favorite for the recipes and your writing.


83 Rebecca June 26, 2013 at 5:37 pm

This was a really disappointing disaster and waste of time and money… I followed the directions exactly, but it was burnt around the edges after 6 hours and the tofu tasted like bitter, crumbly crud… I really don’t know how this could have gone so wrong.


84 Susan Voisin September 13, 2013 at 9:42 am

Sorry about that, Rebecca! Some crockpots run hotter than others, and that may be what cause your problem. I’ve added a note to the recipe to check periodically to make sure the tofu isn’t crumbling or burning. I know that kind of takes away from the “hands-off” aspect of slow cooking, but until you know how quickly your cooker cooks, it’s a necessary adjustment.


85 Emily September 13, 2013 at 10:10 am

This sounds delicious! I need to run to the store to grab the stuff now, as if my day wasn’t already busy enough lol! My question is, what is the point of freezing the tofu? Every time I freeze tofu it seems to ruin it and give it a sponge like consistency. Also, I don’t know if I’m even patient enough to freeze the tofu! 🙂

I love all of your recipes, thanks for sharing! 🙂


86 Susan Voisin September 13, 2013 at 10:26 am

Freezing the tofu does make it sponge-like, which helps it hold up to long, slow cooking. But if you don’t want to freeze it, you can cook it in the oven with no problem.


87 Vickie September 13, 2013 at 10:44 am

Hi Susan!

This looks SO delish. Can’t wait to try it. Can you explain why it’s important to freeze and then thaw the tofu before beginning? What does that add/provide?


88 Susan Voisin September 13, 2013 at 11:00 am

Freezing the tofu makes it firmer and sponge-like, which helps it hold up to long, slow cooking. It needs to be frozen for at least 24 hours for this change to take place.


89 Bobbi Spargo September 14, 2013 at 11:23 am

We were in Portland two weeks ago and ended up eating at Blooming Lotus twice that weekend. It was incredible! The plates were stunning and the flavors were amazing! I’m glad you got to experience it! We tried this recipe last night and were happy with it, but that isn’t unusual. We love your recipes! I think I make more of your recipes than any other site.


90 Karlie Shah September 26, 2013 at 10:42 am

Hi! My hubby and I love your recipes, and have been using them often for about a year. Thank you for them!! I do have a question about freezing tofu, specifically in the slow cooked tofu in pineapple BBQ sauce recipe. When I freeze the tofu do I 1.) first take it out of its packaging and 2.) if so do I drain it at all first before freezing it?
Thank you again for all your wonderful recipes!!


91 Susan Voisin September 26, 2013 at 11:47 am

Hi Karlie–You can freeze the tofu whatever way is more convenient to you. I’m lazy, so I just stick the whole carton in the freezer, but then I have to wait longer for it to thaw and squeeze it more to get the water out. But you can drain it first and then wrap it up in plastic wrap, and that’s less water for you to deal with when it thaws. It works the same either way.


92 Aoife October 29, 2013 at 12:14 am

Can you recommend a sub for the tofu? I really want to make this but I’m on the soy free path…


93 Susan Voisin October 29, 2013 at 7:41 am

You can make the sauce and use it on beans or vegetables. Canned hound jackfruit makes a very interesting barbecue.


94 Aoife October 29, 2013 at 2:22 pm

awesome thank you! I’ll definitely try a BBQ jackfruit salad!


95 Matt November 6, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Thanks for this recipe. I ended up following the baking instructions instead of using the slow cooker. My wife and I enjoyed it. The results:


96 YorkMan January 22, 2014 at 5:39 pm

This smelled WONDERFUL as it cooked all day long. However, it was tasteless when served. Will not be making this one again!


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