Coconut Crusted Tofu with Sweet Chili Sauce #vegan #vegetarian #tofu #coconut #chili #chilisauce

Have you ever seen those Red Lobster commercials – you know, the ones for their “endless shrimp” special? They’re kind of hard to miss. Anyway, while I can think of about a million things I’d rather have an endless supply of than cute little crustaceans, I was intrigued by their idea of tossing protein in flaky coconut and frying it to crispy perfection.

What better way to make this tropical dish vegan than with tofu, and what better time to do it than now – when we’re all freezing our buns off waiting for the first signs of spring? I love any excuse to experiment with fun flavors and cooking techniques, so I wasted no time testing my idea. Complete with a savory marinade and a sweet and spicy coconut cream sauce, this satisfying main tastes just like a beach vacation. And couldn’t we all use one of those right about now?

If you’re seeking relief from this never-ending winter, treat your taste buds to the tropical flavors of coconut and pineapple, cut with a sweet and (not too) spicy chili sauce. Spring is just around the corner, and this is just the dish to tide you over until the sun comes out to thaw your frozen bones. I suggest pairing the tofu with our Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts and a frosty piña colada for the ultimate experience.

For the Coconut Crusted Tofu;
  • 14 ounces extra-firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 small lime, juiced
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil, for frying
For the Sweet Chili Sauce;
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream (from a 15-oz. can of full-fat coconut milk)
  • 2 tablespoons pineapple juice
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce

  1. Press the tofu with several layers of paper towel to remove as much water as possible. Cut the tofu into ½-inch slabs and press with paper towels again.
  2. To prepare the marinade, first combine the soy sauce and coconut sugar in a small mixing bowl. Microwave in 15-second intervals, stirring in between, until the coconut sugar dissolves. This should take less than a minute. 
  3. Add the lime juice and fresh ginger. Whisk to combine.
  4. Transfer the tofu to a shallow baking dish and pour in the marinade. Move the pieces around so each is completely coated. Cover and place in the fridge for at least two hours, flipping the pieces over and recovering with the marinade half way through. Put your can of coconut milk in the refrigerator at this time, too.
  5. While the tofu is marinating, prepare the batter. Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and water in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Set in the fridge until you’re ready to cook the tofu.
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