One of my first “viral” recipes back was Coconut Chicken with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce back in 2010. I was about to remake that recipe and give it the beautiful photographs that it deserves (and maybe upgrade the recipe since I’ve learned a thing or two) when I realized that I had a block of tofu in the fridge that needed to be used up. I immediately knew that I had to make some coconut crusted tofu instead. I’m so happy I did! These cute little coconut crusted tofu triangles are not only good for dipping in the sweet chili sauce as a snack, but I ended up throwing them together with a few other leftovers in my fridge for a seriously epic bowl meal. NOM!
The first time I tested this recipe I marinated half of the tofu in a basic teriyaki-like mixture and left the other half unmarinated. If you know tofu then you know it has virtually no flavor on its own, so marinating is usually pretty important. As it turns out, I actually preferred the unmarinated tofu for this recipe. The marinade totally overpowered the subtle coconut flavors and made them undetectable. The unmarinated tofu had a subtle sweetness and coconut flavor that was the perfect base for the tangy sweet chili sauce. The marinated tofu just had too much going on. So, just know that on their own these little coconut crusted tofu triangles are pretty subtle, but paired with the chili sauce they’re absolutely perfect.
I couldn’t think of a vegan binder to use in place of eggs, so if you’re a vegan substitute pro and know of something good, help out other readers by posting your fix in the comments section below!
Coconut Crusted Tofu with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
Coconut Crusted Tofu with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
These subtly sweet Coconut Crusted Tofu dippers are the perfect vehicle for tangy sweet chili sauce. Serve as a snack or part of your favorite bowl meal.
- 14oz. block extra firm tofu $1.99
- 1 large egg $0.27
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch $0.08
- 1 Tbsp water $0.00
- Pinch Salt and pepper $0.03
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes $1.57
- 2 Tbsp virgin coconut oil* $0.05
- 3 oz sweet chili sauce, for dipping
Remove the tofu from the liquid filled package and place it between multiple layers of paper towel or a clean, lint-free dish towel. Place the wrapped tofu between two plates, cutting boards, or baking sheets and place something heavy on top (I use a kettle or pot full of water). Press the tofu for 30 minutes.
Once the tofu has been pressed, cut the block in half. Cut each piece into three 1/4-inch thick rectangles (cut the "thickness" of the block into three). Cut each rectangle into two triangles. You should now have 12 1/4-inch thick triangles.
Prepare two bowls for the coconut crust. In the first bowl whisk together the egg, cornstarch, water, and a pinch of salt and pepper until a smooth mixture forms. Place the unsweetened coconut in the second bowl.
Dip each tofu triangle into the egg mixture first, making sure it is fully coated, then into the coconut flakes. Place the coconut coated triangles on the cutting board until all pieces are coated.
Heat one tablespoon of the coconut oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Once the skillet and oil are hot, add half of the coconut coated tofu triangles and cook on each side until brown and crispy. Remove the cooked tofu to a paper towel lined plate, add more coconut oil, and cook the second batch.
Serve the crispy coconut crusted tofu with sweet chili sauce for dipping.
*Using virgin coconut oil to fry the tofu maximizes the coconut flavor. Refined coconut oil generally does not have much of a coconut flavor, so make sure to get virgin coconut oil.
Step by Step Photos
This is the tofu that I used. It’s packed in water and acts kind of like a sponge, so you need to press it before cooking it. TIP: Trader Joe’s usually has tofu for super cheap.
To press the tofu, take it out of the package and place it between multiple layers of paper towel or a clean, lint-free dish towel (I prefer a dish towel because I hate wasting those paper towels). Place the wrapped tofu between two rigid flat objects (plates, cutting boards, baking sheets, etc.). Place something heavy on top, like a pot or kettle full of water. I used two baking sheets and my tea kettle full of water to press. Press the tofu for at least 30 minutes.
You want the tofu triangles to be fairly thin, so we’ll need to slice the block into three thinner pieces. It’s kind of hard to tell from the photo, but I first cut the block into two smaller pieces to make cutting them evenly a bit easier. Then I cut each of the two pieces into three thinner 1/4-thick pieces (the piece on the left is turned to sit on its side so you can see how I sliced the thickness of the block into three).
After that you should have 6 rectangles. Cut each rectangle into two triangles.
Prepare two bowls for dipping the tofu. In the first bowl, whisk together 1 large egg, 2 Tbsp cornstarch, 1 Tbsp water, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut in the second bowl. Dip each piece of tofu into the egg mixture first, then into the coconut. Place the coated triangles on a cutting board until they’re all coated.
This is the coconut oil that I used. It has a super coconutty flavor, which adds to the flavor of the tofu triangles. You can use regular cooking oil, but you won’t have as much coconut flavor. When shopping for your coconut oil, try to get “virgin” because it will be more likely to have a strong coconut flavor than a refined coconut oil.
Place one tablespoon of the coconut oil in a large non-stick skillet and heat over medium. Once the skillet and oil are hot, add half of the tofu triangles and cook them on each side until they are brown and crispy (3-5 minutes each side).
Place the cooked tofu on a paper towel lined plate to drain. Add more coconut oil to the skillet and cook the second batch in the same manner.
Serve the crispy coconut crusted tofu with sweet chili sauce for dipping!
This is the sweet chili sauce that I use. You can find it at most major supermarkets. If you can make it to an Asian grocer, you can probably find it for MUCH cheaper.
I had some leftover rice and avocado in my fridge, so I ended up building this super yummy bowl meal with my coconut crusted tofu! It’s just rice, the tofu, avocado, red bell pepper, and sweet chili sauce drizzled over top.
As with anything fried, leftovers don’t stay crispy, but they’re still super delish. I reheated a few triangles today as a snack by placing them in a dry skillet (they have enough oil soaked into the crust) and heating them for a few minutes on each side. Still so good!