Learn the best way to prepare delicious tofu with this recipe for hoisin peanut tofu. Serve it over rice and accompanied with your favourite veggies for an easy and filling meal in a bowl.
Best way to cook tofu
I LOVE tofu for its versatility and ability to combine with all sorts of flavours in a wide variety of dishes.
I’ve gone into great detail about the different types of tofu, what each type is good for and shared more than 50 recipes in my post tofu for beginners so if you’re a newb, start there.
In this recipe I’m going to share with you my favourite way to cook tofu so that it’s a texture and flavour bomb!
My favourite type of tofu is extra firm. It’s got the “meatiest” texture and is great for tossing into stir-fry, noodles, Buddha bowls, curries and more.
There are lots of tips and tricks out there for preparing tofu but I will admit that I’m lazy and generally take a lot of shortcuts.
Rather than pressing tofu for 30 minutes, I just give the block a good squeeze between my hands to get the excess water out and a pat dry with a tea towel or paper towel.
Since I don’t marinate the tofu for this recipe, it’s not really necessary to spend a lot of time getting every drop of water out.
Why don’t I marinate tofu, aren’t you supposed to?
I prefer tofu to get its flavour from a killer sauce rather than wasting 30 minutes marinating it for a marginal return on flavour.
Furthermore, as Serious Eats points out, you want the tofu to crisp up properly but a marinade makes it brown too quickly before the tofu has time to crisp. You end up with soft tofu that tastes like raw marinade in the middle.
So the secret to getting the perfect tofu texture is to toss it in cornstarch before frying.
Place the cubed tofu in a container with a couple tablespoons of cornstarch, put the lid on and shake it up until every cube is coated in a layer of cornstarch.
Now fry until it’s uber crispy on all sides. Finally pour over your sauce and give it a quick toss to coat.
That’s it, it’s ready to serve while hot, crispy and saucy!
What is hoisin sauce?
You can prepare your tofu this way with any kind of sauce. I’ve done this previously with a spicy red curry sauce in my Thai Buddha bowl recipe.
For this recipe I whipped up a simple hoisin peanut sauce in my mini food processor.
If you’re not familiar with hoisin sauce, it’s a fermented soybean paste that’s common in Chinese cuisine.
It’s dark and thick, salty, sweet and tangy all at the same time. Most importantly, it’s umami. If you like teriyaki sauce, you’ll probably like hoisin sauce.
Hoisin sauce is vegan and you can buy it in many large supermarkets in the sauce or “ethnic foods” aisle as well as Asian grocers or online.
To make this hoisin peanut sauce I combined peanut butter, hoisin sauce, water, ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce and hot sauce in a food processor.
If you don’t have a food processor you can simply mince the ginger and garlic and stir everything together in a bowl.
Give you sauce a taste and adjust the flavours to your liking.
What to add to a tofu bowl
This hoisin peanut tofu is good served in a variety of ways. I’ve also made it as a filling for lettuce wraps and tossed with some stir fried veggies.
I especially love bowl recipes as they’re filling, versatile and a great way to use up any leftover veggies.
Start with a base of rice, white or brown, your favourite grain or even rice vermicelli.
To my bowl I added seared baby bok choy. You could substitute this for steamed broccoli or sauteed spinach / kale if you prefer.
Pickled veggies add a nice crunch and sourness. I pickled the carrots but you can add just regular julienned carrots, sliced radishes or cucumber.
Avocado, edamame, snow peas, sauteed mushrooms, roasted sweet potato, bell peppers, and a sprinkling of green onion or sesame seeds are all good choices for these hoisin peanut tofu bowls!
Hoisin Peanut Tofu Bowls
For the tofu
- 1 block (14 oz / 400 gr.) extra firm tofu - $1.49
- 2 - 3 tablespoons cornstarch - $0.08
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil - $0.04
For the sauce
- 4 tablespoons smooth peanut butter - $0.36
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce - $0.33
- 3 tablespoons water - $0.00
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar - $0.03
- ½ - 1 tablespoon hot sauce such as sambal or sriracha - $0.27
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar - $0.07
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce - $0.03
- 1 chunk (about 12 grams / 0.45 oz) of ginger - $0.10
- 1 small clove of garlic - $0.08
For the tofu bowls
- 3 cups cooked rice or other grain - $0.70
- Your choice of veggies : seared bok choy, steamed broccoli, sauteed spinach, pickled or plain carrots, radishes, sliced cucumber, edamame, avocado, snow peas, green onion, etc.
- Drain the tofu and give the block a few good squeezes between your hands over the sink to get out the excess water. Slice into cubes about ½ inch (1.5 cm). Pat the cubes dry with a towel and set aside to air dry while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Prepare the rice and veggies for your bowls before frying the tofu so that you can serve the bowls while the tofu is still hot and crispy.
- Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a small food processor and blend until smooth. If you don’t have a small food processor, finely mince the ginger and garlic and combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Taste and adjust if you want it spicier, sweeter, more sour, etc. The sauce should be thick but pourable. If you cannot pour it, add another tablespoon of water.
- Place the cubed tofu in a container with a lid and add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Shake the container to cover all the tofu with cornstarch. If it’s not all well coated, add an additional tablespoon of cornstarch.
- Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the tofu and fry for a couple of minutes on the first side until golden. Flip the cubes to fry until golden on each side.
- Add about half the hoisin peanut sauce to the tofu and stir well so that it’s all coated and the sauce is beginning to caramelize - this just takes a few seconds. Remove from the heat.
- Divide the rice between 4 bowls and top with the tofu and veggies. Place the remaining sauce in a small bowl to drizzle over the bowls.