Monday, May 14, 2012


Jerk Tofu Wraps with Cou-Cou and Fried Plantains

There isn’t much that makes my mouth water more than Caribbean food. One of the perks of working as a travel writer is getting to globetrot and sample the cuisine of region after region. The catch being that I don’t eat meat, milk, or eggs. When you live a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, eating on the road can be quite a challenge. You have to get creative. Luckily, I love to cook! If you are like me and you crave island fare but you don’t have the chance to travel or you cannot find anything on the menu to suit your diet, try this on for size.


2 packages of extra firm tofu (buy the kind that is already cubed to save yourself some time)

Tortilla wraps

2 or more plantains (depending on how many people you are serving.)

Oil of your choosing for frying the tofu and plantains.

Optional: pickles, spicy mustard, or any other dressings and condiments you might like.


For Jerk Sauce

½ cup ground allspice

½ cup brown sugar

6 garlic cloves (minced)

1 tablespoon thyme

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

For Sauerkraut

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion (thinly sliced)

1 medium to large cabbage (green or purple – shredded)

1 ¼ cups apple cider vinegar

½ cup water

Salt to taste

For Cou-Cou (aka Caribbean Polenta)

2 cups yellow cornmeal

½ pound okra

½ stick vegan margarine

3 cups of water

Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare your Sauerkraut

Begin by sautéing your onions. Keep the heat on medium so you don’t overcook them. You want them to be translucent, not caramelized. Next you want to add the rest of your ingredients, including the water, and let them come to a boil. Reduce heat and cover, allowing ingredients to simmer for about 30 minutes, and you are done! That was easier than you thought it would be, right?

Prepare your Jerk Sauce

This part is also super easy peasy. You will want to make sure you take the stems and seeds out of all your peppers. You may want to opt for gloves, because these bad boys are hot. Be sure to wash your hands, even if you do wear gloves. Trust me, you do not want to risk getting this stuff in your eyes! To prepare your sauce, simply add all of your ingredients to a blender or food processor and mix until smooth. Voila!

Prepare your Tofu

If you buy your tofu pre-cubed, make sure you squeeze the water out of each cube really well. If you buy your tofu in a block, you will want to squeeze it out before cubing it. I have found that pressing the block between two plates or cutting boards works really well. After your tofu is drained and cubed, it is time to fry it up. Tofu sucks up the flavor of any rub or marinade you cook it with, so it’s very important to fry it first! Pour some oil in a deep pan and fry until your cubes are golden on every side. When you are ready, transfer your tofu to a clean pan and toss with the desired amount of your homemade jerk sauce. Remember, this sauce is hot! So you may want to take it easy. Add just enough that each cube appears lightly coated.

Prepare your Cou-Cou

Pour three cups of water into a large saucepan, sprinkle in some salt and let it come to a boil. Add your okra, which should be diced. Let boil for about 5 to 10 minutes. When you removed the okra from the heat, set aside 2 cups of the water to cook your cou-cou with. Mix your cornmeal with a little cold water. Just enough to get it moist. Next, stir the cornmeal into the okra and water you have set aside and stir over a medium heat. Mix with a wooden spoon for about 20 minutes. The cou-cou should be nice and thick. If it is too watery, let it set and stiffen for a while. When it is ready, stir it into a buttered mixing bowl.

Prepare your Plantains

Peel your plantains and slice them into long, thin pieces. Preheat your oil over a medium heat and fry the pieces until they are golden on both sides.

Put it all together

Okay, so you have prepared each part of the dish. Now it is time to put it all together.

Place your tortilla on a plate and load it up with your tofu and sauerkraut. I like to slather my tortilla in spicy mustard first and throw some diced pickles on top. Wrap it up and keep it secure with a toothpick so it doesn’t unfold. Next, add a heaping spoonful of cou-cou to your plate and place two or three plantain slices over the top. Then all that is left to do is dig in!

Bio: Melissa Rae is a travel writer from Portland, Maine who loves sampling the local cuisine of the places she visits. She always books a car rental so that she can explore the area restaurants. As much as she loves being on the road, she can never wait to get home to recreate the delicious meals she enjoys during her travels.


  1. This recipe sounds amazing, I cannot wait to try it!

  2. Thanks Allison, Hope you will give it a try