Baked Tofu w/ Peanut Sauce
This recipe marries two of my favorite things: tofu and spicy peanut sauce! It's a guaranteed crowd-pleaser – the first time I made it, I almost ate the entire batch in one sitting. No joke.
I've been making some variation of this peanut sauce ever since high school; I used to add it to spaghetti noodles, sliced celery and carrots for the best after-school snack or lazy dinner of all time. It also makes a kick-ass dipping sauce for spring rolls or the crispy sesame tofu that I shared last week.
The key to a good sauce is to add dimensionality with sweet and sour elements to balance the umami of the soy sauce. Vinegar and lime add tartness – the lime especially brightens up the flavors. Brown rice syrup is my favorite to add a bit of sweetness to many Asian-inspired dishes (since it has a flavor and texture similar to honey), but any sweetener works. Taste your sauce and adjust to preference, adding more chili sauce if you're a spice lover.
I usually use chunky peanut butter in this recipe for extra texture. I've also made it with almond and cashew butter. Tahini is a great option if you must avoid nuts. I finish the sauce with a hefty dose of fresh garlic and ginger, as well as a drizzle of sesame oil for a subtle roasted flavor.
After coating the tofu and transferring it to your tray, you'll have a few tablespoons of leftover sauce. I like to heat it briefly with a few tablespoons of water to cook out the raw garlic flavor, and then drizzle it over the baked tofu or steamed vegetables I'm serving on the side. You can also save it for later use with spring rolls, on salads or in a stir fry.
This tofu is a fantastic protein option for Buddha bowls or rice vermicelli bowls, but I also suspect you'll find yourself eating it straight off the tray all on its own (speaking from experience).