Make your own tofu satay with this easy recipe. This is the most delicious tofu ever and the magically rich and delicious peanut dipping sauce pushes this high protein vegan appetizer to epic status.
Perfectly crispy tofu satay skewers in the most flavorful marinade and dipped into a sublime peanut sauce…everyone will be begging for more!
Say goodbye to bland tofu. This vegan satay is a delicious plant based alternative to chicken satay, and just as tasty.. You can sear the tofu skewers for a crispy exterior with a creamy interior….just like you’d get in thai restaurants….or use a grill pan or hot BBQ grill.
Pair this delicious tofu recipe with some simple teriyaki stir fry vegetables and pat yourself on the back for a healthy, well rounded dinner.
The best part of these vegan tofu satay skewers is the flavorful peanut sauce. It’s so good, I could drink it. Seriously!! I use this same peanut sauce for veggie spring rolls and even as salad dressing. Craveworthy. For real.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Tasty: simple marinade + epic peanut sauce = tasty tofu perfection!
- Fun: Everyone loves a good skewer appetizer.
- Nutritious: Tofu is a great way to get in some plant-based protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
- Easy: As long as you press the excess moisture out of the tofu before you marinate, the rest is easy peasy.
- Finger food: Just the pick up appetizer you’ve been searching for.
What kind of tofu is best for satay?
Tofu is made from fermented soy beans turned into curds that are pressed into blocks. There are different varieties that are described in terms of water content and texture. For this vegan tofu satay, use firm or extra firm tofu. Softer tofu will break apart when you try to skewer it.
Tofu is a good source of “complete” plant protein containing a well balanced amino acid profile. It is also anti-inflammatory and full of antioxidants. Plus it contains fiber, potassium, magnesium and iron, making it a healthy addition to your diet.
Tofu is usually stored in water to keep it fresh. For the best results, make sure your tofu is drained REALLY WELL. If you make tofu often, a tofu press is a super convenient way to remove the excess liquid. You can also use dish towels, a baking tray and a heavy object. The best way to ensure your tofu doesn’t stick when cooking it is to remove as much water as possible before cooking.
Tofu Marinade Ingredients
- Tamari: Tamari is a gluten free soy sauce. I buy the low sodium variety.
- Lime juice: Citrus brings out the other flavors and bring a bit of zing. Substitute with lemon if needed.
- Maple syrup: Just a hint of sweet to go along with the
- Garlic: Use a microplane grater for less waste and more flavor.
- Ginger: Fresh ginger adds so much flavor, but powdered ginger can be subbed in a pinch.
- Turmeric: That golden color and flavor give off a traditional satay look and taste.
- Black Pepper: Just a grind or two makes the anti-inflammatory properties of the turmeric more available to digest and absorb.
Peanut Satay Sauce Ingredients
- Peanut butter: Use natural peanut butter that’s made from just peanuts—no sugar, oil or other additives. Buy organic, in glass jars where possible. For peanut allergies, substitute with almond butter.
- Tamari: Tamari is a gluten-free soy sauce. Choose a low sodium brand…you won’t notice a taste difference.
- Orange Juice: Helps to dilute the peanut butter with some natural sugar that also contains vitamin C. Squeeze it yourself with the pulp for some added fiber.
- Rice Vinegar: Look for unseasoned rice vinegar. If you need a substitute, use plain white vinegar or white wine vinegar.
- Ginger: Again, fresh ginger will provide the most flavor. Ground ginger is good in a pinch. You can store fresh ginger in the freezer to always have it available. Frozen ginger is also easier to grate.
How to make vegan satay
If you’re using a grill, wooden skewers, satay sticks, or bamboo skewers need to soak in water for at least 30 minutes so they don’t catch fire. Use a rimmed baking sheet or rectangle baking dish to soak them. Metal skewers do not need to be soaked.
Drain extra-firm tofu. This is THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP. There are different ways to make sure you get as much water out of the tofu as possible. If you don’t have a tofu press, see the recipe card for alternative methods that are easy and effective.
While tofu is draining, make the marinade. Add tamari, lime juice, maple syrup, turmeric and black pepper to a small bowl. Use a microplane to grate the garlic and ginger right over the small bowl. Whisk until everything is uniformly combined and set aside.
How to make the peanut sauce
Now make the peanut sauce. Place peanut butter, orange juice, vinegar, tamari, maple syrup, ginger and crushed pepper to a small bowl. Use a whisk or fork to thoroughly combine. If peanut sauce is too thick, add 1-2 Tablespoons water and mix again.
Slice drained and pressed tofu into long satay sticks. Start by cutting the entire block through, like you would a bagel. Then, cut lengthwise into 4 sections so you will have 8 pieces of tofu.
Use a rectangular dish large enough to hold tofu pieces in a single layer, but not so large that the marinade will disperse too much. Pour marinade over tofu and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes, or cover and leave to soak up that excess marinade in the fridge overnight.
Heat your pan or your grill over medium high heat. Spray with olive oil or avocado oil and then gently place each piece of tofu onto the heated pan/grill. Leave it undisturbed for about 4 minutes. It should release easily if you allow it to sear. Flip and then cook the other side for 3-4 minutes.
If serving thai tofu satay skewers as an appetizer, thread wooden skewers onto each piece of tofu. Place on a large plate, drizzle with delicious peanut sauce. Place a small bowl of extra peanut sauce and some lime wedges onto the plate, then sprinkle with chilli flakes, sliced scallions and crushed peanuts.
MEAL PREP AND STORAGE
- SERVE: Tofu skewers taste best warm. Sprinkle crushed peanuts, sliced scallions, and crushed red pepper flakes. Serve with a simple salad, some white rice or cauliflower rice and extra sauce for a plant based main course. Or, pass around as a delicious vegan appetizer.
- PREP AHEAD: Peanut sauce and tofu marinade can be made in advance and stored in the fridge in airtight containers. Drain tofu and marinate as long as overnight, then cook when it’s convenient.
- STORE: Store leftover peanut sauce in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Use on all the things like a simple salad, spring rolls or spiralized zucchini noodles. Cooked tofu satay skewers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days. Follow freezer directions to reheat.
- FREEZE: Extra-firm tofu can be frozen before cooking, even if it’s already marinated. Already cooked tofu can be frozen and then reheated in a hot cast iron skillet or in a 450 degree preheated oven until heated through.
Debra’s Pro Tips
- Make it spicy: add a pinch of cayenne or chili flakes to the marinade for spicy tofu skewers. OR, add a squirt of sriracha for spicy peanut sauce.
- Tofu satay served as a main dish doesn’t need skewers, but they sure are fun!
- Make tofu satay bowls: in addition to the tofu skewers, add rice, sliced cucumbers and radishes and your favorite greens. Then pour on that amazing peanut sauce!
- No stick tips: Thoroughly drain excess liquid from tofu before marinating. Heat your grill, grill pan or heavy cast iron skillet BEFORE spraying with oil and THEN add the tofu pieces.
- Make it crispy: For an even sear that gets crispy, use a cast iron skillet or other flat surface, rather than a grill pan.
- Tofu skewers with peanut dipping sauce is the high protein vegan appetizer you’ve been dreaming of….make it your signature dish…everyone will be begging for more!
- Serve leftovers on top of a salad or inside a wrap, roll them into your veggie spring rolls or cut into cubes and add to a simple stir fry.
What to serve with vegan tofu satay:
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- 1 block 14-oz extra-firm tofu
- 3 Tablespoons low sodium tamari
- 2 Tablespoons lime juice
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic grated
- 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- ¼ cup organic peanut butter
- 2 Tablespoons orange juice
- 1 Tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon low sodium tamari
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Press water out of tofu. Either use a tofu press or gather 2 clean dish towels, one cutting board, and something heavy (like a cast iron skillet) to use weight to squeeze out the moisture.
- Lay one towel, folded into three down on the counter. Cover with another towel folded into thirds. Then place the cutting board centered over the towel and place the heavy object on top. Leave to sit for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the marinade. Add tamari, lime juice, maple syrup, turmeric, black pepper to a small bowl. Use a microplane zester to grate the garlic and ginger over the bowl and whisk well.
- Make the peanut sauce: Add peanut butter, orange juice, vinegar, tamari, maple syrup, fresh ginger and crushed red pepper to a small bowl. Whisk together until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
- After 15 minutes, place drained block of tofu on a cutting board. Slice in half horizontally, then into 4 slices vertically. The result will be 8 long pieces of tofu that can be skewered.
- Put tofu satay pieces in a glass dish and pour on the marinade. Let sit for 15 minutes, or up to overnight (covered).
- If using an outdoor grill, soak wooden skewers in cool water for 30 minutes. Skewer each piece of tofu BEFORE placing on the heated grill. If using a cast iron grill pan or skillet, cook the tofu satay FIRST and then add bamboo skewers, metal skewers or satay sticks to the cooked tofu pieces.
- Heat a cast iron grill pan, or gas grill to medium high heat. You can also use a regular cast iron skillet for crisp tofu satay, without the grill marks. Spray liberally with olive oil or avocado oil spray.
- Place tofu slices onto heated surface and leave, undisturbed for 4-5 minutes. Tofu should release easily. Use a spatula or tongs to flip and then cook for additional 3-4 minutes.
- Serve warm with peanut dipping sauce.