Crispy wedges of tofu and the best creamy peanut sauce are the stars of these Thai Tofu Satay Bowls. Use these bowls for meal prep or for a delicious Thai-inspired vegetarian dinner.
Somehow there’s only a week left in February which means there’s only a week left of our annual celebration of all things Thai food. Despite plenty of chicken satay and sticky rice, I still felt like I hadn’t had my fill, so I’m headed out for more Thai food with friends later this week. If you live in Kansas City and haven’t tried Bamboo Penny’s, check it out. They have some of my absolutely favorites, including crispy rice (Nam Khao Tod). It is the BEST.
Another thing I was feeling like I hadn’t had enough of!? Vegetarian Thai food. I’ve got a spicy plant-based curry I’m working on for next week and can’t wait to show you, but today’s recipe is satay for everyone! This flavorful tofu has a golden, crisp crust and then is drizzled in a peanut sauce that takes less than 5 minutes to toss together.
This is the easiest way to have Thai satay - in a bowl!
First, Make the Peanut Sauce
I’ve proclaimed my love for Thai Peanut Sauce since the early days of this blog, but the version that is paired with these Tofu Satay Bowls is quickly becoming my favorite. It doesn’t include curry paste or coconut milk like my classic Thai Peanut Sauce, but it has a more rich flavor - perfect for dipping or drizzling tofu.
Like any sauce, be sure to taste this one and adjust to your preferences. I’ve found that some people like their peanut sauce to be more sweet - if that’s you, don’t hesitate to add more sweetener. If you like a little spice, increase the Sriracha.
Next, Flavor and Sear the Tofu
Be sure to press the liquid out of your tofu before you start. Pressing out all of that extra liquid allows the other flavors to soak in and helps it to get really crisp as it cooks. Then the tofu is coated in a simple seasoning of Thai Chili Sauce, soy sauce, mild curry powder, and rice vinegar. Add some cornstarch to help it get an extra crisp coating as it cooks. And finally, sear the tofu in a hot pan. A nonstick pan is the best bet here to prevent sticking.
Assemble the Tofu Satay Bowls
Load up bowls with cooked rice and slices of that crispy tofu. Add some Thai-Style Pickled Cucumbers or keep it simple and add some sliced cucumbers. Crisp, cooling cucumbers are a must with any type of Thai Satay - they provide great contrast with the savory flavors. And finally, the best part! Drizzle those bowls with peanut sauce and top with roasted peanuts. These are so simple and so good!
- Sweet Thai Chili Sauce - This Thai-inspired sauce is becoming widely available. We keep it around for dipping spring rolls. I love the Trader Joe’s variety which is not terribly spicy at all, but there is likely some other brand available in most grocery store’s international aisles.
- Creamy Peanut Butter - I typically use standard peanut butter (like JIF) in my peanut sauce because it already has a bit of salt and sugar added. But natural peanut butter will work just fine. Just taste and add some more salt or sweetener if you find the sauce needs it.
- Sriracha or Chili-Garlic Sauce - If you like spice, the peanut sauce benefits from a bit of it. Sriracha is great, but I also keep chili-garlic sauce in my fridge and love that it gives the sauce a little garlic flavor as well. Feel free to use any hot sauce or skip this altogether.
More Ways to Use Peanut Sauce
- Ginger Shrimp Potstickers with Peanut Dipping Sauce
- Thai Noodle Mason Jars with Peanut Dressing
- Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Hoisin Peanut Dipping Sauce
- Thai Shrimp Bites with Peanut-Lime Dipping Sauce
- Easy Chicken Satay with Peanut Dipping Sauce
Thai Tofu Satay Bowls
- Nonstick Skillet
- 16 ounces Extra-Firm Tofu, sliced into triangles (see note)
- 3 Tablespoons Sweet Thai Chili Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
- 2 teaspoons Cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon Mild Curry Powder
- 1 teaspoon Rice Vinegar
- 4 Tablespoons Cooking Oil (use any high-heat oil like peanut, vegetable, grapeseed, or avocado oil)
Creamy Peanut Sauce:
- ½ cup Creamy Peanut Butter
- ¼ cup Water
- 2 ½ Tablespoons Low Sodium Soy Sauce
- 2 ½ Tablespoons Brown Sugar (sub sweetener of choice like honey, maple syrup, or agave)
- 2 teaspoons Lime Juice
- 1 teaspoon Toasted Sesame Oil
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha or Chili-Garlic Sauce (use more or less to taste)
- ½ teaspoon grated Fresh Ginger
- Steamed White Rice or Coconut Rice
- Sliced Cucumbers or Quick Pickled Cucumbers
- Chopped Roasted Peanuts
- Cilantro Sprigs
- Lime Wedges
- Make Peanut Sauce: Heat peanut butter and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until melted. Remove from heat and whisk in ¼ cup soy sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, toasted sesame oil, Sriracha, and ginger. If the sauce is too thick to pour, whisk in some warm water as needed.
- Season and cook tofu: In a small bowl, whisk together Sweet Thai Chili Sauce, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, cornstarch, mild curry powder, and rice vinegar until no lumps remain. Pour seasoning out in a shallow bowl or baking dish. Add tofu and turn to coat tofu in seasoning.
- Heat oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. When oil begins to shimmer, transfer tofu to heated oil in a single layer and sear on both sides until golden and crisp, 5 to 8 minutes total. (Do this in batches if needed.)
- Transfer tofu to a paper towel-lined plate to cool slightly.
- Assemble bowls with a bed of rice topped with tofu. Garnish bowls with cilantro, cucumbers or pickles, and lime wedges. Drizzle everything with peanut sauce. Sprinkle chopped peanuts on top.