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. First, 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.
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.
By brushing the peanut sauce on the tofu, you get evenly coated and lightly crispy tofu. You can use the remaining sauce over rice and veggies, or as a dipping sauce.
Make it 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!
Easy sauteed tofu with a spicy peanut sauce that takes under 30 minutes to make.
- 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.
Peanut oil: I recommend using peanut oil because of the flavor it adds to the tofu. However, vegetable or canola oil will work if that's what you have on hand.
Peanut butter: I find that natural peanut butter is easier to mix into a sauce than regular peanut butter. If you store your peanut butter in the fridge and it's hard, just heat it in the microwave with the other sauce ingredients for 10-20 seconds to loosen it up.