In the culinary world, tofu has a bad rap when it comes to taste and texture. However, when properly prepared, this bean curd will give you a flavourful and satisfying meal.
With its mild taste, tofu absorbs the flavours from the seasonings, herbs, spices, sauces and foods that accompany it. It’s one of the easiest and healthiest foods to cook and has become a staple among vegetarians and vegans. I eat it more regularly now and so do my daughters. (My husband will eat it but he doesn’t like it as much as me.)
I’ve been perfecting this Crispy Asian Peanut Tofu recipe and it has become one of my favourite ways to prepare and eat tofu. It’s crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. And the peanut sauce gives the tofu that extra tasty spicy finish without it being overly hot or spicy.
Although the recipe below may seem complicated, it is simple. For best results, the tofu only needs to be pressed for 10-15 minutes. In addition, it only needs to marinate in the peanut sauce for minimum 10 minutes. I recommend that you make the peanut sauce ahead of time. Also, should you want to make your own breadcrumbs, I’ve included my recipe below.
Below I walk you through the process with lots of pictures.
CRISPY ASIAN PEANUT TOFU
Two firm organic tofu blocks, about 125 grams each (or one block 250 grams)
Vegetable or olive oil (or a mix of both) for frying
One stick-free or cast iron frying pan
In a small bowl, mix to combine:
- 1 cup store-bought breadcrumbs (e.g. Panko or other) or store-bought crackers of choice that you can process *
- 1½ – 2 tablespoons (tbsp) roasted sesame seeds (black or brown)
- 1 tbsp dry parsley
- ½ teaspoon (tsp) onion powder
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
Transfer to a glass jar and seal. Keeps for months.
* If using crackers, choose a simple basic, healthy kind. The crackers shouldn’t be too hard and should be easy to process. Break them into chunks and put into your food processor bowl and pulse to obtain crumbs.
In a small bowl, mix together with fork:
- 3 tablespoons (tbsp) 100% peanut butter (creamy), no additives. Mix well in jar prior to using.
- 2 tbsps lime juice
- 1 tbsp soya sauce
- 1 full tbsp grated ginger root or 1 teaspoon (tsp) powdered ginger
- 2 tbsps maple syrup
- 2 tbsps water (add a bit more if you prefer a fluid sauce)
- 1 teaspoon (tsp) Sriracha hot chili sauce (or any kind of hot chili sauce)
Keeps for 5-7 days in fridge in a sealed jar.
Rinse the tofu blocks under cold water and pat dry with towel. Wrap the blocks in paper towel and press for 10-15 minutes. I use two chopping boards and a book to press (you don’t need to buy a special tofu press).
If thick, slice the pressed blocks lengthwise in half so that they are about 1 or 2 cm thick. Thickness matters with tofu.
Brush the pressed tofu blocks with peanut sauce and cornstarch.
In a separate small bowl mix together with fork:
- 1½ tbsps of the prepared peanut sauce (add a bit more if need be)
- 1 tsp cornstarch
Brush the blocks with mixture on both sides and edges and let stand for 30 minutes (longer for more flavour) in a sealed container in fridge. I like to let marinate for a few hours.
To bread the tofu, add about 2-3 tbsps of breadcrumbs on a flat plate and coat each tofu block with the crumbs on both sides by pressing down with your fingers. Press down to lock the crumbs into the tofu.
To fry the tofu slices, heat up a non-stick frying pan with some oil. You don’t need much oil, about a few tbsps or just enough to thinly coat the bottom of your pan. Reduce the heat to medium-high. Fry the breaded tofu slices until crispy golden, about 4-5 minutes per side, or until crispy. Adjust or lower the heat if need be. Try and not flip them too often. Use a metal spatula for flipping.
Remove and slice into strips or cubes or triangles — whatever makes you happy! Serve with rice or noodles and vegetables of choice. Drizzle or dip with peanut sauce, as you wish! If you prefer, you can heat up the peanut sauce on low in microwave.