This crispy coconut tofu recipe is the most delicious way to enjoy tofu! Marinated cubes of tofu are covered in a coconut-panko breading and cooked in the oven for an oil free option. These crunchy, yet still soft inside, vegan tofu bites are no doubt going to make it to your weekly meal planning!
I love fall so very much. But I have to say that I also get a little anxious at this time of the year. Because it means that winter is coming (you see what I did there?). And winter scares me. A lot.
I grew up in Quebec, where difficult harsh winters are the usual. So clearly, I should feel like a pro at wintering. But nope. Not at all. Every year it’s the same. I have a mini panic attack at the first real cold day realizing how much I am behind at getting ready for the season. And now that I am a mom, oh boy, all that winter preparation thing got much worse.
Soooooooo, all that to say that I realized how much I use food to keep winter away from us. Cold cucumber soup or Watermelon salad on a cold stormy January evening, why not? I love stews and warm soups, of course. But there is nothing bad at bringing back some light and summery meals when you feel a little down.
And these little crispy coconut bites are somehow reminding me of warm summer days with their coconut tropical vibes. So, next time you feel like taking a break from cozy stews, go ahead and bring the sun back to your house too.
How to make this crispy coconut tofu
There are 3 steps in this recipe: Marinade + Breading + Oven bake
The marinade is very simple, but will give lots of flavor to the tofu. Try to marinade the tofu for at least 1 hour, but 4 hours is better.
Also, it is best to remove the water from the tofu so the marinade is better soaked by it. Just roll the tofu in a few layers of paper towel and press it by putting something a little heavy on top. I usually do a quick tofu press by drying it for about 30-60 minutes.
What you will need to make the asian style tofu marinade:
- Soy sauce
- Maple syrup
- Rice vinegar
- Garlic powder
After the tofu is done marinating, then comes the fun part: coat the cubes of tofu with the coconut mixture. Dip in flour, then dip in flax egg, then dip in a panko-coconut mixture. Not too bad, eh?
The flax seed mixture (flax eggs) not only helps have the coconut mixture stick to the tofu, but also allows the cubes to get that little crispy coating.
Pro tips when breading the crispy coconut tofu
- This coconut breading is a sticky process! Here is how I do it:
First, I use my left hand to transfer the marinated tofu to the flour dish, then roll it around until completely covered. I then transfer it to the flax egg mixture and coat the tofu completely, then transfer it to the coconut panko mixture. All this only using my left hand.
Then, with my right hand, I grab the flax egg covered cube and transfer it to the coconut panko mixture. Still with that right hand only, I roll it around and press on it making sure there is a thick enough layer of coconut sticking to it. Then, I transfer the covered cubes to the baking sheet.
If I use one hand to do everything, then my fingers also get covered in the breading which makes it harder to keep breading without cleaning my hand in between cubes. This would take forever!
- Bread more than one cube at each step at the same time. What I do is put 1 cube in the flour, cover it, then transfer in the flax eggs mixture. I leave it there and go back to grab an other cube. I do about 6 cubes at the time. Then I move forward to the flax eggs mixture with the 6 cubes waiting for me in that bowl. This helps a lot in speeding up the process.
- You want a thick layer of crust, so make sure to cover the cube everywhere at each step. This means pressing and rolling around in the breading.
- When transferring to the baking sheet, leave some space in between the cubes. This will allow the cube to brown and crisp nicely.
- When at the last step, press on the cube with the coconut mixture to make sure it sticks nicely on it. When completely covered, simply shake gently to remove what’s not sticking. Keep in mind that the exterior layer will be browning and you will want to keep that browned layer on the cube when cooked. So make sure it will stay on it after cooked when moving the cube around!
How to eat these crispy coconut tofu bites
They are the ideal topping for rice bowls. I usually serve them combined with this coconut pineapple rice with a good drizzle of this sweet and spicy orange sauce. I reserve this meal for days I have more free time as the 3 components together take some time, bit it always feel like a special dinner.
They also make for a perfect kid snack. Throw them in your kids lunch box or skewer them so they can grab and dip in a sauce.
Add these crispy bites to your next asian style noodle bowl to boost the protein level. The tofu can be combined with so many sauces and will add lots of texture to many meals.
Instead of cutting the tofu in cubes, cut it in sticks and keep going with the recipe as is. Then, stuff a roll with the sticks after cooked and add this orange sauce with cilantro and shredded carrots for a delicious asian style sandwich similar to a tofu banh mi.
How to store the leftover tofu
I bet you won’t have any leftovers! ha! But if you do, it will stay good in the fridge for 2-3 days. Be aware though that they will lose their crispiness over time, but the taste will stay delicious!
I hope you will love this tofu bites as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was.
Crispy coconut tofu – Oil free and oven baked
For the marinade
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder
To make the tofu
- 454 g extra firm tofu dried with paper towel and cut in 1 inches cubes
- 4 tbsp ground flax seeds (flax meal)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
To make the orange sauce, click here.
Prepare the tofu
- Wrap the block of tofu in a few layers of paper towel. Then add something a little heavy on top. Let the water from the tofu diffuse in the paper towel for about 30-60 minutes.
- Then, cut the tofu in cubes of about 1 inch size.
Marinade the tofu
- In a large and shallow bowl or a large freezer bag, mix together all the marinade ingredients. Then, add the cubes of pressed tofu and mix well. Let them marinade in the fridge for at least an hour (4 hours is better).
Bread the tofu
- Pre-heat the oven at 400°. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- First, start by making the flax eggs: in a medium size shallow bowl, mix the ground flax seeds with the water and let it sit for 10 minutes.
- Then, put the flour in a second medium size shallow bowl.
- Finally, in a third medium size shallow bowl, mix the panko breadcrumbs with the shredded coconut.
- One by one, start by covering each surfaces of the cubes with the flour. Then, cover them with the flax seed mixture and finally coat them with the panko-coconut mixture. You will have to press gently to make sure that the cubes are completely covered by the coconut. Put the covered cubes on the parchment paper. Keep going until you covered all the cubes.
- Cook in the oven for 15 minutes. Then flipped the cubes and cook for an extra 10 minutes or until browned.
- Serve with rice, vegetables and the sauce of your choice.
- Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days, but will lose of their crispiness.