If you're someone who struggles to make tofu taste good, look no further! This maple-soy glazed cashew tofu is going to knock your socks off. The tofu is crispy, the cashews add the perfect crunch, the glaze is that perfect combination of salty and sweet, and it's all placed over a bed of brown rice noodles in a creamy sauce!
This meal takes less than 30 minutes to cook, is vegan, can be made gluten-free, and is seriously packed with flavor. It's the perfect weeknight dinner!
If you think tofu is bland, come talk to me after you've made this recipe!!
- Extra-Firm Tofu: The star of this show and our protein source for this dish!
- Brown Rice Vermicelli: These noodles are gluten-free and will be coated in a creamy coconut sauce.
- Cornstarch: KEY to getting our tofu nice and crispy.
- Sesame Oil: This oil adds its own touch of nutty flavor and will be used for pan-frying our tofu.
- Rice Vinegar: Combined with the sesame oil, it adds a touch of sweetness to the oils savory nuttiness.
- Maple Syrup: It be a maple-soy glaze without it!! The maple syrup adds the sweetness to our sauce.
- Soy Sauce: Again, wouldn't be a maple-soy glaze without it! This adds the saltiness.
- Canned Coconut Milk: The base for our noodle sauce!
- Garlic: ....obviously - do I even need to list this anymore? I'll just send out a mass email if something that's not a baked good doesn't have garlic.
- Ginger: for freshness and a bit more flavor
There's a few different things going on in this recipe so hang in there!
- Start out by pressing your tofu for at least 30 minutes (if you're not sure how, I left instructions under the FAQ section). Once pressed, cut your tofu into 1-inch cubes and toss in cornstarch, salt, and garlic powder until they're even coated.
- In a large pan or cast iron skillet, heat sesame oil and rice vinegar over medium-high heat. Once it's HOT, add the tofu and keep them about an inch apart so they don't stick together. Now don't touch them for ~5-6 minutes. Leaving them undisturbed will ensure that they gets nice and crispy. Once the side touching the pan is crispy and golden brown, flip them over and leave them again for another 5-6 minutes, or until crispy.
- In the same pan, push the crispy tofu to one side and add garlic and minced ginger. Saute these for about 30 seconds, then add in the soy sauce, maple syrup, and apricot preserves. Use a rubber whisk to mix it all together and start combining the sauce with the pan-fried tofu. Add in the cashews and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to a simmer until the sauce has thickened - it should be pretty quick and only take 2-3 minutes. You should get a nice sticky, glaze over the tofu and cashews.
- Meanwhile, cook the brown rice vermicelli according to the package instructions. Drain the noodles and run them under cold water to stop them from cooking and so they don't stick together. Leave them in the strainer while we make the coconut sauce.
- In the same pot you cooked the noodles in, add the oil and heat over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Pour in the can of coconut milk, corn starch (optional), sugar (optional), salt, and pepper and whisk to combine. Add the rinsed noodles to the pot and cook until heated through.
- To serve immediately, add the noodles to a bowl or plate and top with the maple-soy glazed cashew tofu. For garnish, sprinkle with sesame seeds, basil or cilantro, and some lime juice. Enjoy!
I love this recipe as is but totally understand if you want to make a few changes. Here's what I think would work great!
- Add veggies!! This dish thrives with veggies. Personally, I think cauliflower or broccoli are best in this dish.
- Use tempeh instead of tofu! If you're not the biggest tofu fan, swap it out. The marinade will stick to tempeh really nicely as well.
- Make it nut-free by removing the cashews
- Replace the sesame oil with any other oil you prefer! Avocado, grapeseed, or vegetable oil would work well.
- Make it gluten-free by using tamari instead of soy sauce.
- Bake it! For a healthier alternative to pan-frying it, bake the tofu at 400 degrees F for 30-40 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Use rice instead of noodles. Jasmine rice would work really well with this recipe, but you could use any rice!
- Use agave or honey instead of maple syrup. I know this is a vegan page BUT I'm only suggesting honey for a) those of you that aren't vegan or b) the vegans that do eat honey. I personally do not (I never liked it anyway!) but I know some vegans do.
- Press your tofu!! Pressing your tofu is a MUST. It will remove the water which allows the tofu to absorb more flavor/the marinade, it allows the tofu to hold it's shape rather than falling apart, and it'll improve it's texture. If you can't do it for the full 30 minutes or press it ahead of time, even 15 minutes will help!
- Don't skip the cornstarch! It's a little messy but it's a must for crispy tofu, regardless if you're baking or pan-frying it.
- Buy extra firm tofu because it has less water content and can hold it's shape so it's great for a dish like this or a stir fry! You could get away with firm, but it will definitely break apart. Stay away from soft or silken entirely for this recipe.
- Don't touch the tofu once it's the pan. Leave it alone and let it brown on each side! If you're constantly pushing it around the pan not only will the tofu not get crispy, it'll start falling apart.
1. Open tofu and drain the water it's packaged in.
2. Wrap the drained tofu in a dish towel or paper towels. I'd suggest putting it on top of a plate or cutting to catch the water that will be squeezed out.
3. Add some weight on top of the tofu. I like to first put a cutting board on top then add heavier items like a thick book, a couple cans of beans, an actual dumbbell, etc.
4. Let it sit! But how long do you press tofu for? I personally like to let it sit for a half hour for optimal results, but if you're in a pinch even 15 minutes will be super helpful. Make sure you check it every once in a while. I've found that sometimes the weight starts sliding/gets lopsided and your tofu will be unevenly pressed.
5. Slice it, cube it, whatever, just use it!
Yes! If you know you're going to be making this recipe for dinner, you can set it up to press that morning or even the night before. I would not recommend leaving it out on your counter all day though. If you can, create some space in your fridge that allows you to keep it in there while it's pressing.
This recipe is definitely best when enjoyed fresh! The tofu won't stay as crispy and the sauce will dry out a bit.
You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat this recipe, you can either microwave it or put it in a pan on the stove and heat until warmed through. I'd recommend adding a little coconut milk to revive the noodles and make some fresh sauce, if you have time!
If you make this maple glazed cashew tofu, be sure to snap a pic and tag me on Instagram. If you have any questions or feedback at all, send me an e-mail or leave a comment below! I hope you love this dish as much as we do!Print