So many vegan tofu recipes seem the same, are we right? That’s what makes this tofu dish so unexpected! Figs and cashews in an asian-style tofu dish? Whodda thunk it! (Us, that’s who!) Not only is this tofu recipe a refreshing change from the expected, but it’s delicious! Serve it over brown or white rice, with some steamed bok choi or spinach on the side, and you have an incredible meal! We use the House brand tofu from Costco for this, the organic unroasted cashews from Costco, and the organic dried figs from Costco.
Now before we go any further, we want to let you know about the recipe that inspired our recipe; it’s a very different recipe, but it did spark our interest in creating a tofu dish that featured figs. That recipe is Veganuary’s ‘Figgy Mapo Tofu Tagine’. Our recipe is not a mapo tofu recipe, lacking, as it does, among other things, the traditional bean paste that is typical of a mapo tofu recipe. In fact, our recipe doesn’t contain anything that you aren’t already likely to have in your kitchen or pantry.
Ok, maybe it does have one thing that you may not have already, although if you’ve been a reader of the Happy Gluten-Free Vegan for any amount of time, you’ve probably already acquired it even if you didn’t have it before, and that’s the Sambal Oelek. If you’re not familiar with this amazing, versatile chili sauce, let us introduce you. Sambal Oelek is the chili sauce about which Bon Appétit senior editor Rick Martinez says “Sambal Oelek is the hot sauce that can do everything”, explaining that “I chose sambal oelek, an Indonesian chile paste, because it’s so flavorful and so simple—crushed raw red chiles, a little vinegar, and salt. It’s good as a condiment and is also good as an ingredient in cooked foods, and, even better, it will taste like you are cooking with fresh chiles.” Sambal oelek is available at most Asian grocers, as well as in some supermarkets, and you can also get it here on Amazon. But, if you really have to, you can use another chili sauce.
Sambal Oelek Tofu with Figs and Cashews
1 package tofu (the refrigerated, packed in water type), lightly pressed and drained
8 dried figs, cut half and then each half cut into three pieces
1/2 cup unroasted cashews
2 Tablespoons regular sesame oil or other light neutral oil
2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 Tablespoons Sambal Oelek
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced ginger
4 Tablespoons liquid aminos, tamari, or soy sauce
2 Tablespoon rice vinegar or other mild vinegar
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon corn starch (can sub tapioca starch)
Whisk the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and set aside.
Heat the oils over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed pan (we used to use our enameled dutch oven for this) or tagine (which is what we use now). If you put one little bit of garlic in the oil while it’s heating, you’ll know the oil is ready when the garlic starts sizzling.
Add the garlic and ginger to the pan and sauté for a few minutes. Now add the figs and cashews, and continue sautéing until the figs start to soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour the sauce into the pan with the figs and cashews, and bring to a simmer, and let the sauce thicken up for a couple of minutes.
Place the tofu gently into the pan, and gently turn it over until it is coated with the sauce. Let the tofu continue to simmer in the sauce for about 15 minutes; it’s good if you can cover the pan while the tofu is simmering, but not essential.
Remove from heat and serve.
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