This easy sauteed tofu is crispy and covered in a spicy peanut sauce. This vegan recipe takes under 30 minutes to make and is perfect for quick weeknight meals.
Usually, I wait a little while to write a blog post after making a new recipe, just to make sure that it’s something that I really want to share. But I just couldn’t wait with this spicy peanut sauce tofu! I knew right away that it’s my favorite recipe I’ve ever made.
I know that sounds like a hyperbole, but I’m not kidding! This spicy peanut tofu is my new favorite quick meal.
I’ll admit that there’s a bit of a backstory to this tofu (as it seems there is with most recipes that I share). I actually really messed up on my first attempt at developing this recipe (classic me), but as I was messing up and chunks of peanut butter were flying everywhere, I realized something: this tofu tastes just like the fries at one of my favorite restaurants in Portland.
Let me explain.
Basilisk is a fried chicken restaurant that also serves fried tofu sandwiches, loaded with pickled cucumbers and cabbage slaw. It’s where we would go after a long hike, starving and ready for an indulgent meal and what I considered the best fried tofu outside of the South.
They also serve Dan Dan fries, which are covered in a Szeuchan peanut sauce, cilantro, lime, and green onion. They’re delicious, and taste super similar to the peanut sauce on this tofu. Long story short, I took a bite of this tofu and was instantly transported back to my favorite Portland restaurant. A dream come true!
Here’s why you’ll love this spicy peanut tofu:
- It takes under 30 minutes to make
- Tofu is a healthy plant based protein that’s absorbs the flavor of whatever you cook it in, making it super versatile and tasty
- Spicy peanut sauce. Need I say more?
- Great as an appetizer OR main dish when paired with rice and broccoli or snap peas
- No baking or excess dishes required; just a large saute pan and a small mixing bowl
How to make crispy tofu
This recipe uses my go-to method for sauteing tofu.
- Slice the tofu into squares (see the photos below for reference size). One block of tofu makes about 20 tofu squares.
- Heat the peanut oil over medium heat and add in the minced garlic and ginger, sauteing for one minute. This part is key, as these ingredients (peanut oil included) impart a lot of flavor to the peanut sauce and tofu.
- Add the tofu squares to the pan; they shoould all fit without overlapping, but you can do this part in batches as needed. Saute each side for 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Brush one side with the peanut sauce, then flip it over so that it’s the side being cooked. Coat the other side and flip over after 1-2 minutes, so that each side is browned.
- Side note: Here’s the thing: the first time I made this I just poured the peanut sauce right into the pan, which basically made really messy fried tofu. I’ll admit that I loved the flavor, but it’s not the most beautiful thing to have chunks of fried peanut butter sliding off of the tofu. Tasty, but not cute.
- Brush the peanut sauce on the tofu so that you get evenly coated and lightly crispy tofu. You can use the remaining sauce over rice and veggies, or as a dipping sauce.
Turn your crispy tofu into a complete meal
For a well rounded quick meal, enjoy your delicious spicy peanut tofu with rice and steamed broccoli. Top with green onions, cilantro, and a squirt of lime. If you’re really into spicy food, sprinkle with some more red pepper flakes or sriracha!
I seriously LOVE this tofu and can’t wait to share the recipe with the world. Enjoy!
Looking for more tofu recipes?
Crispy Tofu with Spicy Peanut Sauce
- 1 block (14 ounces) extra firm tofu
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil*
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter*
- 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (from half of a lime)
- green onions, for garnishing
- cilantro, for garnishing
- Slice the tofu into ten slices, width-wise. Cut each slice in half so that you have 20 squares of tofu. To remove excess moisture, pat each side lightly with a clean dish towel or paper towel.
- In a large saucepan, heat peanut oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the minced garlic and ginger. Saute until aromatic, about 1 minute.
- Add the tofu to the pan in a single layer; depending on the size of your pan, you may need to do this in batches. Cook each side for 5 minutes, until lightly browned.
- Meanwhile, making the spicy peanut sauce by mixing together the peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, vegetable broth, lime juice and red pepper flakes. It should be smooth and creamy, like a thick sauce.
- Use a basting or pastry brush to brush the peanut sauce lightly onto the exposed side of the tofu. Flip over, cooking another 1-2 minutes, until browned. Repeat with the other side of the tofu.
- Remove the tofu from the pan once browned on both sides. Enjoy with additional spicy peanut sauce, rice, and veggies.