If you're tofu-hesitant, this sticky spicy almond butter tofu might be the recipe that converts you to tofu-lover. Keep reading for my trick to create the perfect tofu texture!
You either love it or hate it.
I'll be honest. I used to classify myself as falling into the latter category.
So much so, that out of the 100+ recipes in my cookbook, I only included tofu in ONE of them. I even documented my distaste for the gelatinous soybean "meat" imposter in the pantry chapter.
But that was before I understood tofu. Before I realized it could be so much more than a scramble. And so much more than a jiggly baked blob of tastelessness.
I first began to really understand tofu when I tried my hand at dry "frying" it in a super hot skillet. This was a cooking technique I read about in Thug Kitchen's first cookbook, and it revolutionized both my opinion and approach going forward.
The best part about the dry frying method is that it's incredibly simple to follow and it's reliable, meaning it's easily repeated time and time again. If you have any doubts, check out the reviews and comments on this recipe.
For this particular recipe, this easy dry-fried tofu is coated in a sticky, spicy almond butter sauce.
Let's take a closer look, shall we?
You'll start by pressing a block of firm or extra-firm tofu for 20 minutes (or more if you can). If you have a tofu press, you can use that. If you don't have one, don't fret. I've provided an alternative in the recipe instructions below.
Once the tofu has been pressed, slice it into thin rectangles like this...
Next, heat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet (or skillet of choice) over high heat until very, very hot. Since you're dry frying, it's important the pan is hot or the tofu will stick.
When the pan is hot, add the tofu in a single layer (you'll need to cook it in two to three batches). Sear the tofu for 3 minutes, then flip and continue to sear for another 3 minutes. While the tofu cooks, use a spatula to press the tofu until you hear it hiss and squeal (seriously, it's quite noisy). This helps sear and brown it to perfection.
While the tofu cooks, prepare the sauce by whisking together almond butter, Sriracha, maple syrup, tamari, and rice vinegar.
You'll notice this sauce is quite thick thanks to the almond butter. You can leave it exactly as is (that's what I do) or you can tweak it to suit your tastes. For instance, if you like a spicier sauce, add more Sriracha. If you like a tangier sauce, add more vinegar. If you like a saltier sauce, add more tamari.
You get the idea. This is your sticky almond butter sauce—do it up however you please. :)
The finished dry-fried tofu will look like this:
Add the cooked tofu back to the pan along with the sauce. Cook for just 30 seconds to a minute, or until the sauce is heated through and clings to the tofu.
Serve this yummy tofu however you'd like.
I love it over brown rice that's been seasoned with rice vinegar and tamari with a side of fresher, greener ingredients like cilantro and cucumbers.
Sticky Spicy Almond Butter Tofu
- 1 (14-ounce) block firm or very firm tofu, drained
- 3 tablespoons natural almond butter (thoroughly stirred before measuring)
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon tamari*
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- If you have a tofu press, use it to press the tofu for 20 to 30 minutes. Alternatively, wrap the tofu in several layers of paper towels, and place it on a rimmed dinner plate. Set a very heavy pot or pan (e.g., cast iron skillet) on top of the wrapped tofu and let stand for at least 20 minutes (preferably 30 minutes) to press the excess water from the tofu. Gently unwrap the tofu and discard the paper towel.
- Meanwhile, in a medium spouted mixing bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the almond butter, Sriracha, maple syrup, tamari, and rice vinegar. Whisk together until combined and set within reach of the stove. Note: The recipe for the sauce is a jumping off point, and you should feel free to add more of what you love. Like a tangier sauce? Add more vinegar. Extra spicy? More Sriracha. Generously salty? More tamari. A little sweeter? More maple syrup. Adjust to suit your preferences!
- Slice the pressed tofu widthwise into ¼-inch-thick pieces. Then, lay each piece flat and slice in half lengthwise and then widthwise, yielding four small rectangles from each larger piece.
- Heat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or pan over medium-high heat until hot. The heat will sear the surface of the tofu and prevent it from sticking, which is why it's important the pan is thoroughly heated.
- Once the pan is hot, add the tofu in a single layer (you'll need to do this in two or even three batches). Use the back of a spatula to lightly press down on the tofu (you should hear it sizzle and hiss). Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the pan-facing side is golden-brown. Flip, and continue to cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden-brown.**
- Reduce the heat to low, return all the tofu to the pan, and add the sauce. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the sauce warms and clings to the tofu, stirring constantly. The sauce is thick, so this step is very quick!
- Transfer the tofu and sauce to a medium mixing bowl and allow it to rest until ready to serve. I recommend serving the tofu over warm brown rice that's been seasoned with rice vinegar and tamari. For a lovely pop of freshness, add sliced cucumbers, lime wedges for spritzing, and cilantro!
- Refrigerate leftovers.