Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tofu Twofer - Malaysian Tofu Satay with Peanut Sauce

Tofu Satay & Peanut Sauce

The culinary world is divided into three camps: tofu lovers, tofu haters, and tofu tolerators. While this recipe will probably not convert anyone who hates the stuff despite its chameleon-like ability to ingratiate itself with finesse into nearly any recipe, it has made a lover out of a tolerator like me. And for the very reason that it wants so very much to please. But, no, it doesn't taste like chicken. Not everything does, you know, no matter what Robert Klein says. And it doesn't have to.
Tofu Satay with Peanut Sauce - Adapted from the recipe

Tofu Satay


2 14-ounce blocks extra firm tofu, drained and blotted of excess moisture
3 large cloves garlic
3 large shallots
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
1/4 cup water
4 tablespoons brown sugar

16 wooden skewers, soaked in warm water for at least 1 hour


Slice tofu into oblongs, approximately 4 inches by 1 inch; each block will yield eight oblongs. You can also cut it into cubes. Set aside.

Using a food processor, grind garlic and shallots into a paste. Transfer to a small bowl. Add all other ingredients to the paste. Mix well, then spread half the paste in a large, shallow casserole dish. Use a spoon to prevent staining your hands with turmeric. Press tofu into mixture to cover the underside. Spread the remaining paste on top of tofu. With a fork, gently and repeatedly turn tofu by quarters to cover with paste. Cover dish with plastic wrap. Refrigerate to marinate at least four hours.

Remove marinated tofu from refrigerator. Wearing gloves to protect your hands from staining, thread tofu onto skewers, dividing it uniformly among the skewers if you are using cubes. Allow some space between cubes.

Arrange tofu skewers without crowding in a hot, greased grill pan or skillet that has heated for a few minutes over medium-high heat. Carefully turn the skewers every few minutes to brown tofu on all sides. Remove from pan and serve immediately while still hot with peanut sauce (recipe below). I also served mine with a tiny side salad of cubed cucumber dressed in sweetened rice vinegar. Serves 4 as a starter; 2 as an entrée.--
Malaysian Tofu Satay Skewers

Peanut Sauce


1 large red onion, peeled and quartered
3 large shallots, peeled
2 macadamia nuts
3 tablespoons sliced lemongrass, white ends
2 tablespoons sambal oelek (or other savory red chile paste)
1/4 cup peanut oil
1 tablespoon tamarind paste mixed with 1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
12 ounces coconut milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped


Using a food processor, grind onion, shallots, nuts, lemongrass, and sambal oelek into a paste. In a large skillet over low heat, warm oil then add paste. Stir to mix, then allow mixture to simmer until oil begins to separate. Add tamarind water, soy sauce, coconut milk, and brown sugar. Bring to simmer again. After ten minutes, mix in peanuts, and simmer another five minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to serving bowl to allow to cool to room temperature.
Malaysian Peanut Sauce
Peanut sauce, hold the belacan.

It isn't often that I've prepared a recipe that is suitable to submit to two separate events. This veganized adaptation of traditional Malaysian satay and peanut sauce, usually prepared with meat and shrimp paste, is for Vaishali, hosting It's a Vegan World: Malaysian. This is also my ridiculously late entry for MLLA14, hosted by yours truly. It's been a hell of a few weeks for me; hence the delay. Please bear with me. I will have the round-up of your fine recipes online as soon as possible. Please be sure to set your sites and appetites on Sia, now hosting MLLA15 at Monsoon Spice.


Been There, Done That ~
Leblebi - Tunisian Hot Chickpea Soup
Chinese Steamed Red Bean Buns
African Peanut and Yam Soup

Other People's Eats ~
Malaysian Honeycomb Cake

Malaysian-Style Dal
Sambal Oelek


  1. I have never been a huge tofu fan, but made like this i would love it for sure.

  2. Beautiful! That vegetarian satay looks really good!



  3. Loved the peanut sauce, looks very flavorful!

  4. What a nice way to have tofu, though my husband and daughter aren't tofu lovers.
    But I can make this with paneer. :)

  5. The tofu looks so yummm and tempting!

  6. I'm a lover, looks fabulous to me!
    Looking forward to the round-up too.

  7. hmm...interesting categorization, i fall into tofu tolerator camp ,same is the case with hubby, so I do not use it in cooking..but ur tofu satay looks awesome

  8. I used to be a tofu hater until I turned into a tofu tolerator and now I definitely am a tofu lover. And I agree-- it doesn't taste like chicken because it tastes better! :)
    Thanks for this lovely recipe, Susan. Those marinated satays of tofu with that spicy peanut sauce look like absolute heaven.

  9. I'm so glad I found your recipe! I'm always looking for the perfect peanut butter sauce, and this sounds like a winner!

  10. What a lovely recipe..! I always wanted to do something with tofu on skewers!I must admit I also went thru all the phases till I realised the more creative I am with the tofu the more I adore just what more can we ask for..? :) Mia

  11. The thought of that sauce has me smacking my tongue and licking my lips! :)

  12. i have only been a tofu tolerater ... i was a tofu hater when in Japan and slowly acquired the taste of tolerating it and i think with this recipe i can go a step further and start loving it too :) will give this recipe a try !

  13. I love to have Chicken satays. But this Tofu one is certainly different. That too with marvelous peanut sauce sure to melt in our mouth.

  14. Everything doesn't *have* to taste like chicken! :)

    This one looks absolutely delicious - esp the sauce - tamarind - heaven!


  15. Self confessed tofu AND peanut sauce lover here. Love this!

  16. Hi, This is my first visit to your blog!! Wonderful tofu recipe. As a tofu lover I will want to make this, for sure. Always love to find new things to do with tofu.Thanks.
    Peace, Stephanie

  17. I can't say that I love tofu, but I agree with you - it has the ability to morph beautifully into all kinds of ethnicities. The bottom line is always the sauce - that's what makes it or breaks it. And oh Susan, that sauce sounds so incredible!

  18. You cook Asian food better than an Asian (i.e. me) hehe ... looks so beautiful, almost too beautiful to eat. Yummy :)

  19. One day, I would love to ship you a little organic tuber of fresh, finger-staining turmeric.

    Oh, tofu! How I love thee. I'm thrilled beyond words that this is something you too now adore. I want - so badly - some of your incredible peanut sauce on this cold, rainy afternoon. This recipe is A Keeper.

  20. Oh yums!!!
    I used to be a tofu hater. I think I was just reluctant to be associated with tofu-eaters... the tree-hugging type. I don't know why! ahahah, but now I love it! I love how nutritious and healthy it is, and so versatile! I just came back from Japan and I think I had tofu every day! So delicious! This Asian recipe looks delightful!

  21. For quite a few vegetarians I know, the attraction of soya nuggets, mushrooms and paneer, which came in relatively late into small-town India, was that they were supposed to be "just like non-veg"!

  22. I love tofu in all forms. Tofu satay sounds delicious. Try adding some ginger or galangal to the paste next time.

    Thanks for the link back!

  23. Hi, Happy Cook! Thanks. I really do think the preparation of tofu either makes or breaks its appeal.

    Thanks, Rosa!

    Thank you, Parita. Even though I halved the recipe, I had a lot of sauce left over. It was great diluted with some extra water for salad dressing.

    Aparna - Thanks! Paneer is a nice idea.

    Preeti - Thank you!

    LL - Thanks so much.

    Shaista - Thanks. Everyone has their distinctive opinion about tofu. I grew up eating meat, so the evolution of my eating bean curd is more like a revolution...and a revelation. ; }

    Vaishali - Thank you. I'm so glad you like the recipe. The peanut sauce was heavenly, if I do say so myself. : }

    Welcome, Chocolate Shavings! Thanks so much!

    Hi, Mia! How are you? Thank you kindly. The added bonus with tofu is that it threads effortless on skewers - no struggling.

    Thanks, Cynthia. Lots of good stuff in that sauce. : D

    Nanditha - Japan is a tough place to live for one who doesn't like tofu. ; P

    Hi, Lone Acorn! Welcome! This is very different than chicken, especially in texture, but with the marinade and sauce, it's quite tasty nonetheless. Thanks for your kind words.

    Hi, Miri. Thanks! I love, love, love tamarind. :}

    Y - Thanks! Good to see you!

    Thank you, Kevin. There's a lot of flavor packed into that little bowl.

    Hi, Stephanie! Welcome! Thanks so much for the kudos. From one tofu lover to another, good to see you!

    Toni - Thanks! What's sauce for the goose, is sauce for the tofu. Sorry - couldn't help myself. ;D Great to hear from you!

    Wiffy - Thanks, sweets, for the lovely compliments. : }

    L - Yes, the conversion is complete now. I buy at least a block of it every time I go shopping. I've even been eyeing tempeh, although I don't know quite how to choose nor what to do with it...yet.

    The peanut sauce really is killer. I can get turmeric root at my Indian grocer, although I don't know that it is organic. I used gorgeously ground powder that dear Suganya sent me from her mother's kitchen.

    Hi, Marta! Thanks! I bet you enjoyed some incredible dishes in Japan. Good to see you!

    Sra - Best to start the kids early with soy - then they will be suspicious of meat! LOL! Can you imagine promoting chicken as tasting just like tofu?

    Nate & Annie - Great tip for galangal. Now, if only I can find it. ; }

    Hi, Helene. Thanks so much!

  24. Susan, lovie ~ It seems we're both on a path to convert foodies (you, tofu; me, beetroot). I have no problems eating tofu but would never call myself a fan. I love that you use peanut sauce (with chile sauce) to give the tofu a textural dimension and to set off the wonderful use of spices that coat the tofu.