Our Tofu Satay with Peanut Sauce recipe was made out of necessity. I cannot count with my hands how many times we have been disappointed in Thai restaurants because they would only have Chicken Satay on their menu. We used to always try asking if they could make it with tofu instead but with the same lovely peanut sauce. Their answer was always no, so we stopped asking and started making it at home instead!
Satay is a South-East Asian dish that is made from seasoned, skewered and grilled protein, which will normally be meat. When we travelled around Asia we found some vegan options but it's not that common. What makes Satay dishes so special is the lovely peanut sauce they are commonly served with.
The peanut sauce has to be rich, creamy, a little bit sour, sweet and packed with Asian flavours such as ginger, soy sauce or lime juice.
How to prepare the Tofu Satay
The Tofu. For our tofu satay we use firm tofu. A little trick that makes a big difference is to freeze the tofu overnight before using it. This will make it more spongy and it will absorb the marinade and the peanut sauce a lot better. Before freezing it, make sure that you drain out the excess of water from the tofu placing it in between two plates and adding something heavy on the top (can of tomatoes for example). You can skip this step, but if you have the chance, we recommend to try including it!
The marinade. The key to preparing a delicious Tofu Satay is the tofu marinade. This plant-based protein is quite bland in taste and it needs a bit of seasoning or marinating before serving. For this recipe, the tofu needs to be marinated for at least 20 minutes before cooking it. Our marinade is really simple to make and it tastes delicious. You will need soy sauce, coconut milk, sriracha (can be substituted by sambal oelek or chili flakes), maple syrup garlic powder and ginger powder.
Cut the tofu into 5-6 strips crosswise. The strips need to be thick enough to be able to place the stick after baking. Place them in the container where you are going to pour the marinade and using a baking brush or a spoon add the marinade on the tofu until all the tofu strips are completely coated. Leave marinating for at least 20 minutes in the fridge.
The Cooking. When the tofu has been marinating for at least 20 minutes it will be ready for cooking. Place the tofu on a baking tray and bake at 200ºC for 10-12 minutes on each side. We place a silicone baking mat on our tray before placing the tofu so it doesn't stick to the bottom. Using this mat saves you from using oil when baking to avoid sticking.
Final Step. Once your tofu is completely cooked, leave it to cool before skewering them on the satay sticks.
Ingredients for the Peanut Sauce
As we already mentioned, our favourite part of this South-East Asian dish is the peanut sauce. When we lived in Berlin, we used to go to a Tibetan restaurant where they would serve the best peanut sauce with spring rolls. We could never get enough of that sauce, it was extremely delicious. We mastered that peanut sauce at home with the following ingredients:
- Peanut Butter. For the peanut sauce, you will need to use smooth or creamy peanut butter.
- Brown sugar. To give a bit of sweetness to the sauce you can use as well maple syrup or honey.
- Soy sauce. Dark or light soy sauce will both work for your peanut sauce. If you are using light soy sauce, as it's saltier, adjust the amount.
- Lime juice. The freshly squeezed lime juice will give your peanut dip that lovely tanginess.
- Rice vinegar. Optional. We love adding a little bit of rice vinegar as it's rich in umami.
- Ginger powder. Use freshly grated ginger or ginger powder.
- Warm water. Adding warm water to your dip will bring the sauce together. You can adjust this ingredient depending on your taste or the use you want to give to the peanut sauce to make it thicker or more liquid.
How to serve Tofu Satay with Peanut Sauce
Place the tofu skewers on one side of the plate. Pour the peanut sauce into a small bowl, add some crushed peanuts on the top and place it in the same plate. Sprinkle some fresh coriander and squeeze a little bit of lime on the top of the tofu skewers. You can as well pour some of the peanut sauce already on the top but the presentation will be better if you keep the sauce in the bowl.
This dish is normally served as an appetizer. The peanut sauce is quite filling and it may be too much to be served as a main. Save any peanut sauce leftovers as it can be used the next days for example to make a delicious stir-fry.
Tofu Satay with Peanut Sauce
- 2 200 g block of tofu firm
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon maple syrup
- ¼ cup coconut milk
- ½ tablespoon sriracha
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ginger powder
- ⅓ cup peanut butter room temperature
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- ½ tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- ½ teaspoon ginger powder or freshly grated ginger
- ⅓ cup warm water
- Drain any excess of water from the tofu by placing it in between two plates and adding something heavy like a can of tomatoes for example. Leave for at least 20 minutes. After this, you can freeze the tofu overnight, or use it straight away. Freezing the tofu overnight makes it more spongy and it will absorb the marinade and the peanut sauce a lot better.
- If you are freezing the tofu overnight, to unfreeze it place it under running warm water and they remove any excess of water from it by pressing it again.
- While the tofu is draining, mix in a small bowl the ingredients for the marinade: Soy sauce, maple syrup, coconut milk, sriracha, garlic powder and ginger powder. Combine all the ingredients until you have a uniform mixture.
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
- Once the tofu is ready, cut each block of tofu into 5-6 strips crosswise. They need to be thick enough to be able to place the stick after baking. Place them in the container where you are going to pour the marinade and using a baking brush or a spoon add the marinade on the tofu until all the tofu strips are completely coated. Leave marinating for at least 20 minutes in the fridge.
- When the tofu has been marinating for at least 20 minutes, place it on a baking tray and bake at 200ºC for 10-12 minutes on each side.
- When your tofu is completely cooked, leave it to cool before skewering them on the satay sticks. Once they are on the stick, place them on a plate to serve.
- To prepare the peanut sauce, add into a medium-size bowl peanut butter, brown sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar, ginger powder and the warm water. Mix well all the ingredients until everything is completely combined and the sauce looks homogeneous. If your sauce is too thick, add some extra water and if it looks too liquidy, add some more peanut sauce.
- Transfer the peanut sauce into a small serving bowl and add crushed peanuts on the top. Add to the place together with the tofu skewers.
- Sprinkle some fresh chopped coriander and sesame seeds on the top for better presentation.