South Asian food is one of my all-time favourite cuisines. Bursting with fragrant citrus notes, salty umami flavours and spicy heat kicks. I wanted to showcase all the wonderful ingredients that Thai cooking has to offer in this Thai Peanut Butter Tofu recipe.
Asian noodle dishes are just so fresh, comforting and satisfying; it’s definitely not hard to see why they are so popular right now.
Thai flavours in particular are phenomenal; lighter and more fragrant than other cuisines in the region, particularly spotlighting characteristic ingredients such as lime, ginger and chilli.
What I love the most about South-Asian, and particularly Thai food, is that it is so versatile and adaptable. Most dishes are traditionally dairy free; coconut milk and nut pastes are typically used to make soups and sauces richer. This makes Thai food fantastic for adapting to a vegan or plant-based diet. Similarly, tofu is very popular in South-Asian dishes, and it’s the perfect meat-free swap to ‘veganise’ any dish.
Many traditional Thai dishes are also gluten free, using rice or rice noodles as the base, and if you follow my recipe for oven-baked crispy tofu, you won’t have to worry about any flours either to make it crispier.
Gluten free, dairy free, plant-based and healthy; this Thai Peanut Butter Tofu recipe is perfect if you have different dietary requirements to cater to. No need to swap out core ingredients or settle for less flavour to make it diet friendly; this recipe is naturally bursting with flavour using the best ingredients nature has to offer.
Tofu used to get such a bad rep, and I am so happy to see it finally getting the recognition it deserves. My top two things that the wonderful world of South-east Asian cooking has shown me, is a wonderful array of fragrant spices and ingredients, and the versatile source of protein; tofu!
I think one of the reasons that people are put off tofu, is that they don’t know how to cook with it. Tofu doesn’t behave like meat or veggies, and so can be a bit daunting if you’re new to it. But once you know how to get that gorgeously crispy outer texture, it’s so easy and so delicious.
I’m not such a big fan of coating tofu in flour or corn-starch; I prefer to keep things simple (and gluten free of course.) You can achieve the similar firmness without all the flour and oils by choosing an extra firm tofu, really patting the tofu dry to remove the water, slicing it up, and baking for 30-45 minutes. Easy right?
The Thai Dressing
Now this is where the magic happens people! This peanut Thai dressing will blow your mind, I promise!
Of course, we have to start with the basics; chilli oil, garlic and ginger – the holy trinity of Thai (if not all) cooking. To say these are the basics is not to say they are unimportant. These three ingredients are the building blocks to create a flavoursome and full-bodied Thai dressing – definitely no skipping out on these three (unless, of course, you’re not such a fan of spice, then feel free to use a milder chilli oil).
The tamari soy sauce provides the salty, umami depth of flavour, so it’s super important to use a good quality sauce. I prefer Tamari as it’s thicker and has a milder flavour, which is perfect for this dish and it makes it gluten free.
One thing that sets Thai recipes apart from other cuisines is the use of vinegar. It provides that sweet/sour, tangy fruitiness that is so characteristic. Mingled with the lime juice and fresh coriander, this recipe has a really fresh, aromatic flavour and I like to keep thing sugar and sweetener free where possible so not added sweeteners were used in this dressing.
And last but not least; the peanut butter. This is truly the star of the show, bringing all the flavours and ingredients together with a nutty twist. Words don’t do justice to how good the addition of peanut butter to a Thai sauce is. I’m sure it will become a staple in your kitchen just as it has in mine. Pick a palm oil free, sugar one like Manilife. Seriously guys, once you try this brand you’ll never change. I chose the original smooth but the deep roast is OMG amazing too.
Thai Peanut Butter Tofu
- 1 packet extra firm tofu (300g)
- 1 packet brown rice noodles (200g)
- 25 g roasted peanuts, crushed
- 1 large spring onion, finely sliced
- Pinch of sesame seeds
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 - 2 tbsp fresh coriander, finely sliced
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 2 tbsp tarami GF soya sauce
- 1 tbsp chilli oil (I used a mild oil without flakes, if using a stronger one use less)
- 1 clove garlic, minced or 2 confit garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp ginger, grated
- 3/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp water
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- (option maple to taste if desired)
- Pat dry the tofu to remove all the water. Cut into 1 inch cubes. Place on a baking tray and bake for 35 - 45 minutes depending on brand and how firm you like it. Turn once after about 25 minutes. Option to pan fry in a little olive oil if you prefer. I just like how firm it goes if you bake it and you don't need flour or a starch.
- Mix the dressing ingredients together in a bowl with a hand whisk until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Cook noodles as per the packet instructions. Drain. Option to toss in a little olive and a pinch of salt.
- Toss tofu through peanut sauce and warm through. Serve This Peanut Tofu over noodles and top with peanuts, spring onion, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes and fresh coriander.