Vegan Coconut Tofu with Miso Pak Choi

Tofu steaks are marinated in a flavoursome yoghurt marinade and rolled in toasted coconut to make this vegan coconut tofu. Served alongside sticky miso roasted pak choi and a slightly spicy creamy tahini sauce, this dish is so delicious and the perfect weekend meal for two. 

Photograph of coconut tofu on a bed of coconut rice with miso roasted pak choi

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What is vegan coconut tofu?

Do you love coconut? If you do, you’re going to love this thai coconut tofu. Perfect for both warm weather and cooler temperatures, this dish is all about the coconutty flavour. I’ve used coconut yoghurt and dried coconut in the coating for this tofu, in both the mild and fragrant marinade and the flaky coating.

I’ve finished the dish with some sticky miso roasted pak choi and a spicy and creamy tahini sauce. I also love serving coconut tofu over rice for a bit of extra volume.

Why I love crispy coconut tofu

  • It’s so easy to make and just roasts away in the oven, so there is very little hands-on time.
  • There’s heaps of plant based protein from tofu- but the coconut coating is a nice change from normal fried or baked tofu.
  • It’s vegan and can easily be made gluten free, so suitable for a wide range of dietary requirements.
  • It makes a great weekend dinner for two. It looks like it takes a lot more effort than it does!
  • And of course, it’s so delicious! The combination of umami and sweet flavours is a winner every time.

What are the components of this recipe?

This recipe is made up of three different components which can be cooked simultaneously, making this a super easy dish to prepare. 

The vegan coconut tofu

Firstly, there’s the thai coconut tofu. Tofu is the perfect vehicle for carrying the flaky coconut coating as it just soaks in flavours and becomes whatever you want it to be. It sits in a flavourful marinade for between 30 minutes and 2 hours, before being coated in coconut. The coating is made from:

  • Coconut yoghurt– Adds to the sweet coconutty flavour and creates a thick and sticky base for the dried coconut to stick to.
  • Soy sauce– To help boost the flavour of the coconut tofu with a salty punch. Swap for tamari for a gluten free option.
  • Rice vinegar– this Asian vinegar adds some acidity to cut through the marinade, as well as a touch of sweetness.
  • Mirin– a Japanese cooking wine, this adds sweetness too, but also helps to draw out the umami flavours in the marinade thanks to the alcohol. If you don’t have access to mirin, you could leave this out.
  • Garlic– because I LOVE garlic.
  • Ginger– spicy yet warm, the flavour of ginger pairs perfectly with the coconut.
  • Dried coconut– flaky and sweet, it’s lightly toasted before coating the tofu for a boost of flavour and extra crunch. You can use unsweetened shredded or dessicated.
  • Chopped red chilli– for a hit of spice!
Ingredients for the coconut tofu

Tips for choosing the right tofu

Such a delicious coating needs the right kind of tofu! It’s important to choose a firm tofu when making vegan coconut tofu. An extra firm tofu or super firm tofu is best, as these types won’t need pressing beforehand. If you’re not sure if your tofu is this firm, just give it a little squidge in the packaging to check. Extra firm or super firm tofu will hold its shape and won’t have much give. 

You can use a standard firm tofu, but you will need to press this for half an hour before use. To do this, slice it in half, wrap the halves in a clean tea towel, then place them under something heavy (a cast iron pan or a pile of cookbooks). Alternatively, you can use a purpose made tofu press (I have this one).

If you really want tofu which sucks up flavours and marinades, you can try freezing your tofu. When frozen, the water inside the tofu expands, creating larger air pockets when the tofu is defrosted. This makes the tofu like a sponge, and a fantastic carrier of flavour! 

This does result in a chewier tofu, which some people love, but others rather the softer texture. Experiment and see what you like best!

The miso roasted pak choi

The vegan coconut tofu is served alongside miso pak choi. I am obsessed with the delicious savoury flavour of miso, and putting it in a glaze is one of my favourite uses for it. With its mild flavour, pak choi comes to life when roasted with a delicious coating of:

  • Miso paste– salty, savoury, and slightly sweet. If you’ve never tried it, mixing it in a glaze is the perfect place to start! I’ve gone with white miso paste for this recipe, which is readily available in stores.
  • Lime juice– zesty and tart, lime juice bring some acidity to the glaze.
  • Maple syrup– adds sweetness, and results in a sticky coating on the pak choi. You could also use agave or date syrup here.
  • Sesame oil– sesame oil adds depth and earthiness. I would recommend choosing a toasted variety for this recipe.
Ingredients for miso pak choi

The tahini drizzle

Last but not least, whilst the vegan coconut tofu and miso pak choi are cooking, you can whip up a quick and easy tahini drizzle using 6 simple ingredients:

  • Tahini– the base of the dressing, it’s very creamy with savoury and nutty flavours, which compliment the thai coconut tofu and pak choi so well!
  • Sriracha– chilli sauce adds a touch of spice. I’ve opted for a tablespoon, which I don’t think is too hot, but if you’re sensitive to heat, you can add this a little bit at a time until you reach the right level of spiciness.
  • Maple syrup– for a bit of sweetness (once again you could swap this for agave or date syrup, or a sweetener of your choosing).
  • Lime juice– to add the all important hit of acidity!
  • Water– this is simply to water down the drizzle to the desired consistency.
Ingredients for the tahini drizzle

How to make this easy coconut tofu recipe

The vegan coconut tofu

If you have firm tofu, you will need to press it as above for at least half an hour. If you have extra or super firm tofu, you can skip this step!

Next, mix the marinade ingredients together. Stir together the coconut yoghurt, soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin, minced garlic and ginger. 

Slice the tofu into 4 ‘steaks’ (however works best for the shape of your tofu block). Cover the tofu pieces in the marinade and leave them for at least half an hour. If you get ahead of the game, you can leave them to marinade overnight in the fridge for the most flavour!

Preheat the oven to 180 celcius/ 350 fahrenheit. Spread out the dried coconut on a baking sheet, and place it in the oven for 3-4 minutes until it’s lightly golden

Sprinkle the cornstarch over the marinating tofu, and roll the tofu pieces around so that they get an even coating of starch and marinade. 

One at a time, take the tofu pieces out of the marinade, letting any excess marinade drip off. Roll them in the toasted coconut so that they’re coated on all sides, then place them on the same baking sheet. Sprinkle the chopped chilli over the top, then bake them in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden and crunchy.

Can I fry the tofu?

I’ve chosen to bake the vegan coconut tofu as this is the healthier option. If you’re trying to make health conscious decisions, then baking is the way to go. I’ve heard that air fryers are also a great option for healthier cooking, though I haven’t tried making thai coconut tofu in the air fryer (let me know if you give it a go!).

If you would like to make coconut fried tofu, you can shallow fry instead. I would suggest heating some oil in a skillet over medium heat, and frying the tofu for around 4 minutes on each side, until golden.

For the pak choi

Making the roasted pak choi is super easy. Simply whisk together the miso paste and lime juice until the paste loosens up, then add the maple syrup and sesame oil. Stir them together, then brush it over the pak choi halves.

Roast the pak choi in the same oven as the thai coconut tofu for 20 minutes.

Making the sauce

To make the sauce, whisk together the tahini, sriracha, maple syrup, soy sauce and lime juice. Add water a tablespoon at a time until it reaches a consistency which you like. I find that 2-4 tablespoons works best for me.

How to serve coconut tofu

To serve, plate up the roasted pak choi and vegan coconut tofu, then drizzle them in the tahini sauce. If I feel like a little something extra, I like to cook up some coconut and lime rice, for an extra coconutty flavour! Simply simmer 200g rice in a can of light coconut milk with a good pinch of salt. When cooked, stir through the zest of half a lime.

You could also make the coconut crusted tofu and serve it:

  • With quinoa, for a healthier, high protein grain; or with couscous, which is so easy to cook.
  • With a dip! Chop the tofu up into crispy coconut tofu tenders instead of steaks and dip them into either the tahini dressing or a sweet chili dipping sauce.
  • On the side of roasted broccoli or zucchini- Can you tell I love green veggies!?
  • On a salad (I can imagine a massaged kale salad would work great with vegan coconut tofu).
  • As part of a buddha bowl. Chop the tofu into coconut tofu bites and add it to a buddha bowl as a protein on the side of veggies and grains. You can add some sweet chili sauce, or stick with the tahini drizzle.
Overhead photo of coconut tofu on a plate with miso pak choi and rice

Can I prepare this dish in advance?

If you want to get ahead of the game, the marinade can be made 48 hours in advance. If kept in the fridge, the tofu can be marinated for this long too. This will give you loads of flavour in your thai coconut tofu!

The miso glaze for the pak choi can also be made in advance, as well as the tahini drizzle. Keep these in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 48 hours. The tahini drizzle will need loosening up with a little water before serving.

I wouldn’t recommend cooking any of the elements in advance. Both the vegan coconut tofu and pak choi are their best when freshly cooked.

FAQS

Is this recipe gluten free?


This recipe isn’t gluten free as written as it contains soy sauce. Swap this out for tamari for a gluten free recipe. I would recommend checking that your miso, rice vinegar and mirin are gluten free too. 

I don’t like coconut!

Somehow you landed on this recipe so you must have liked something about it! You could actually swap the shredded coconut for sesame seeds, and use a soy yoghurt in the marinade. Sesame tofu is just as yummy!

Vegan coconut tofu on a plate with pak choi and rice. Bowl of rice in the background

If you like tofu recipes

  • This recipe for creamy tofu korma might just hit the spot!
  • Try these healthy and gluten free baked tofu nuggets (the ground almond coating goes crispy just like breadcrumbs). They’re delicious in this tofu katsu salad!
  • These eggplant cannelloni are stuffed with a creamy tofu ricotta and topped with a rich tomato sauce for a tasty Italian inspired meal.
  • Pierogi are a delicious Polish comfort food, and are even better when filled with potatoes, tofu, and smoky mushrooms.
  • Or how about some breakfast? These tofu breakfast burritos are perfect for a grab-and-go breakfast on busy mornings!

Pin it!

Coconut Tofu Pinterest Pin
Photograph of coconut tofu on a bed of coconut rice with miso roasted pak choi

Vegan Coconut Tofu with Miso Pak Choi

Chloe from Forkful of Plants
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Marinating time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian
Servings 2
Tofu steaks are marinated in a flavoursome yoghurt marinade and rolled in toasted coconut to make this vegan coconut tofu. Served alongside sticky miso roasted pak choi and a slightly spicy creamy tahini sauce, this dish is so delicious and the perfect weekend meal for two.

Ingredients
  

For the tofu

  • 1 pack extra firm tofu*
  • 2 tbsp coconut yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • shredded coconut (1/2 cup)
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 red chilli chopped

For the pak choi

  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1/2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp maple syrup or agave
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 pak choi sliced in half lengthways

For the sauce

  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • ½ lime juiced
  • water to thin as needed

Instructions
 

For the tofu

  • Mix the marinade ingredients together. Slice the tofu into 4 ‘steaks’, then cover the tofu pieces in the marinade and leave them for at least half an hour. If you get ahead of the game, you can leave them to marinade overnight in the fridge for the most flavour.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°c/ 350°f. Spread out the dried coconut on a baking sheet, and place it in the oven for 3-4 minutes until it’s lightly golden.
  • Sprinkle the cornstarch over the marinating tofu, and roll the tofu pieces around so that they get an even coating of starch and marinade.
  • Take the tofu pieces out of the marinade, letting any excess marinade drip off. Roll them in the toasted coconut then place them on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the chopped chilli over the top, then bake them for 20-25 minutes until golden and crunchy.

For the pak choi

  • Whisk together the miso paste and lime juice until the paste loosens up, then add the maple syrup and sesame oil. Stir it until smooth, then brush it over the pak choi halves.
  • Roast the pak choi in the same oven as the tofu for 20 minutes.

Making the sauce

  • To make the sauce, simply whisk together the ingredients. Add water a tablespoon at a time until it reaches a consistency which you like. I find that 2-4 tablespoons works best for me.
  • To serve, plate up the tofu and pak choi, and drizzle with the tahini sauce.

Notes

*An extra firm tofu or super firm tofu is best, as these types won’t need pressing beforehand. You can use a standard firm tofu, but you will need to press this for half an hour before use.
BAKING/FRYING: I’ve chosen to bake the vegan coconut tofu as this is the healthier option. If you’re trying to make health conscious decisions, then baking is the way to go. I’ve heard that air fryers are also a great option for healthier cooking, though I haven’t tried making thai coconut tofu in the air fryer (let me know if you give it a go!).
If you would like to make coconut fried tofu, you can shallow fry instead. I would suggest heating some oil in a skillet over medium heat, and frying the tofu for around 4 minutes on each side, until golden.
STORING: If you want to get ahead of the game, the marinade can be made 48 hours in advance. If kept in the fridge, the tofu can be marinated for this long too.
The miso glaze for the pak choi can also be made in advance, as well as the tahini drizzle. Keep these in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 48 hours. The tahini drizzle will need loosening up with a little water before serving.
I wouldn’t recommend cooking any of the elements in advance. Both the vegan coconut tofu and pak choi are their best when freshly cooked.

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