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5 from 9 votes

Tofu With Peanut Sauce

If you're a peanut lover, you will love Tofu With Peanut Sauce. Even if you don't like tofu. The spicy peanut-y little pillows are packed with flavor and delicious in veggie bowls and appetizers.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
drain/press tofu20 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings (change as needed): 4 mains (or 6 appetizers)
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 1 block extra firm tofu or firm tofu packed in water 14 - 16 ounces/397-450 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch or arrowroot starch
  • kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon canola, avocado or grape seed oil or other vegetable oil

Peanut Sauce

  • 5 tablespoon smooth creamy peanut butter (for less sugar, use natural peanut butter)
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons sweet Thai chili sauce Note 1
  • 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice (about 1/2 a lime or 1/4 of a lemon)
  • sriracha hot sauce to taste start with 1/2 tsp, taste and adjust
  • optional: 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp soy sauce

Options for Garnish or Fillers (choose 1 or more)

  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds,
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley or cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped water chestnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • drizzle of balsamic reduction

Instructions

  • DRAIN AND PRESS TOFU: You can cut tofu block in half horizontally for this step if you want. Wrap tofu block(s) in a couple of layers of paper towels (or a tea towel). Lay on counter. Place heavy pan or plate over it with cans or other heavy objects to weigh in down. Let sit for at least 20 minutes. 30-60 minutes even better. This will extract most of water from tofu.
  • MAKE PEANUT SAUCE: While tofu is draining, combine all peanut sauce ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk until smooth. Taste and adjust to how you like it.
  • PREPARE TOFU: Cut tofu in cubes. For appetizers, use small cubes (1/2 inch/1.27 cm). For main course, tofu can be in larger cubes or rectangles. Here's a video on how to cut tofu. Toss gently with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 2 teaspoons cornstarch until lightly dusted all over.
  • PAN FRY TOFU (Note 2 for baking instead): Heat non stick skillet to medium-high heat. Add tofu cubes. Flip and shake pan as needed until all sides are lightly browned - about 12-15 minutes. If starting to burn, lower heat to medium heat.
  • ADD PEANUT SAUCE: Add sauce to pan reserving 2 tablespoons if desired for extra drizzle at serving. Stir gently to coat tofu evenly. Cook for 2-3 minutes until sauce thickens, browns a bit and coats tofu well.
  • SERVE: For appetizers: spoon portions into endive cups or lettuce cups. For main course, place portions into bowls along with rice, avocado, vegetables, etc. Drizzle on reserved extra sauce. Garnish with 1 or more of suggested garnishes or any others you choose. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

  1. Substitute for sweet Thai chili sauce: Instead, use a combination of garlic chili sauce (or sriracha) and maple syrup or honey. 
  2. To bake tofu (instead of pan-fry): Note this method takes an extra 15 minutes than pan frying. Heat oven to 400F/204C. Place tofu cubes in a bowl, sprinkle with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp cornstarch, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1/4 tsp ground pepper (and a pinch of garlic and 1 tsp sesame oil is optional). Toss gently to coat evenly. Spread onto a baking tray lined with parchment lined paper so pieces aren't touching each other. Bake for 15 minutes, flip, bake another 15 minutes until crispy and golden brown. 
  3. Serving variation: Instead of using the peanut tofu as an appetizer in endive cups, try it in veggie bowls with quinoa, white rice, rice noodles, avocado, veggies, cauliflower rice, mango, snap peas or whatever you have on hand.
  4. Make Ahead: Except for the final few minutes to combine the tofu and peanut sauce, you can make everything ahead - draining/pressing the tofu, baking or frying the cubes and making the sauce. Leftovers are great cold, too, the next day if you have any.
Nutrition values are estimates.
Calories: 372kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 320mg | Potassium: 517mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 168IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 80mg | Iron: 3mg