This recipe marries two of my favorite things: tofu and spicy peanut sauce! It’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser – the first time I made it, I almost ate the entire batch in one sitting. No joke.
I’ve been making some variation of this peanut sauce ever since high school; I used to add it to spaghetti noodles, sliced celery and carrots for the best after-school snack or lazy dinner of all time. It also makes a kick-ass dipping sauce for spring rolls or the crispy sesame tofu that I shared last week.
This tofu is a fantastic protein option for Buddha bowls or rice vermicelli bowls, but I also suspect you’ll find yourself eating it straight off the tray all on its own (speaking from experience).
Ingredients for the Tofu Peanut Sauce
The key to a good sauce is to add dimensionality with sweet and sour elements to balance the umami of the soy sauce.
- Vinegar and lime add tartness – the lime especially brightens up the flavors.
- Brown sugar will add a hint of sweetness. You can use a different sweetener if you prefer, such as maple syrup or agave. Brown rice syrup is actually one of my favorite things to add to many Asian-inspired dishes (since it has a flavor and texture similar to honey) if you can get your hands on it.
- Chili sauce will add a kick! Taste your sauce and adjust to preference, adding more chili sauce if you’re a spice lover. You also use something like sriracha for a bit of a different flavor. Or you can omit it altogether if you don’t like spicy food.
- Chunky peanut butter is my preference for this recipe — I love the crunch, but it’s okay if you’re all about the smooth PB life. I’ve also made the sauce with almond and cashew butter. I would image tahini would be a great option if you must avoid nuts, although I haven’t tried it myself.
- Garlic and ginger make the sauce deliciously aromatic. I am not shy about the amount of garlic I add.
- Sesame oil adds a nice, subtle roasted flavor.
After coating the tofu and transferring it to your tray, you’ll have a few tablespoons of leftover sauce. I like to heat it briefly with a few tablespoons of water to cook out the raw garlic flavor, and then drizzle it over the baked tofu or steamed vegetables I’m serving on the side. You can also save it for later use with spring rolls, on salads or in a stir fry.
Baked Tofu with Peanut Sauce
- 1 package firm or extra-firm tofu
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sweetener of choice see notes
- 1-2 tablespoons chili paste see notes
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons ginger paste
- Drain tofu. Wrap in a clean tea towel and weigh it down with a cutting board or other flat object. Allow to drain for 30 minutes, then cut into cubes (about 1″).
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Combine all ingredients for the peanut sauce in a mixing bowl. Toss tofu cubes in sauce to coat.
- Transfer tofu to a baking tray lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat. (Save the extra sauce left in the bowl.) Bake for 30-35 minutes until deep golden brown, rotating tray halfway through baking time.
- Optional: Combine the remaining sauce with 2 to 4 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer until thickened. (We take this step to mellow out the flavor of raw garlic in the sauce.)
- Serve tofu with rice and steamed vegetables. Drizzle with extra peanut sauce if desired, or save the sauce for spring rolls or another dish.