Tofu Satay with Coconut Sauce and Two Quick Dips

Recipe and photo contributed by Ame Gilbert Yield:  4 servings
Prep Time:  30 minutes Cook Time:  15 minutes

Tofu Satay with Coconut Sauce and Two Quick Dips

This might look like a complicated recipe, but each element is quite simple. You’ll have a tasty exotically spiced supper on the table in no time flat. The marinated tofu is quick cooking, and the sauce and dips require no cooking at all. Although there are overlapping ingredients, each element is quite distinctive. Serve with nutty jasmine rice and sliced cucumbers.


1 pound extra-firm sprouted or regular tofu

The Sauce

1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened full-fat coconut milk

2 teaspoons agave nectar

2 teaspoons gluten-free or traditional soy sauce

2 teaspoons fresh lemon or lime juice

2 teaspoons sambal oelek (see Kitchen Tips)

Soy-shallot Dip:

¼ cup gluten-free or traditional soy sauce

2 tablespoons agave nectar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice

1 tablespoon finely minced shallot

½ teaspoon finely minced garlic

Agave-sambal Dip:

¼ cup coconut vinegar

2 tablespoons agave nectar

1 tablespoon fish sauce or miso (vegan version)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice

2 teaspoons sambal oelek


1 shallot, grated

1 tablespoon gluten-free or traditional soy sauce

1 tablespoon grated palm or coconut sugar, or light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground dried turmeric

1 teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon finely minced garlic

12 (6-inch) bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes before using

¼ cup “thin” coconut milk (see Kitchen Tips)


½ cup shredded coconut, toasted golden brown

Fresh cilantro leaves

Jasmine rice and cucumbers for serving (optional)


  1. Drain the tofu: Place tofu on a plate lined with several layers of paper towels or a cotton kitchen cloth. Blot dry. Place another layer of towels on top and place a plate over the towels. Place 1 to 2 cans on top of the plate to weigh it down. Set tofu aside to drain while you prepare the marinade, sauce, and dips.
  2. Prepare the sauce: Scoop the cream from the top of the coconut milk into a small bowl. (There should be 1 cup . Add additional thin coconut milk to top off to 1 cup if necessary. Reserve the remaining coconut milk for cooking the tofu.) Add the remaining sauce ingredients to the cream and mix to combine.
  3. Whisk the soy-shallot dip ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk the agave-sambal dip in another small bowl. Set both aside.
  4. In a large bowl, stir the marinade ingredients.
  5. Cut the tofu into slices ¾-inch thick by 3-inches wide (or as wide as your packaged tofu might be) then cut slices in half so you have a 12 (¾-inch by 1½-inch by 3-inch) rectangles. Place the tofu in the marinade and gently turn to coat each piece. Let stand for 30 minutes. While you are waiting, make the rice and slice some cucumbers.
  6. Heat a cast iron pan or a nonstick saute pan until very hot. Skewer each tofu piece lengthwise. Lower flame to high, but not scorching. Sear, in batches, for about 2 minutes on all four sides, using tongs or fingers to gently lift the skewer ends and turn. Return all the skewers to the pan and add the thin coconut milk. Bring to a boil and cook down to glaze the skewers. Serve immediately, drizzled with the sauce, over a bed of jasmine rice, if using. Garnish with toasted coconut and cilantro, and pass the dipping sauces on the side.

Kitchen Tips

Sambal (Southeast Asian chili sauce) is spicy. If you are sensitive, add only a tiny portion and taste before adding more. There are many different jarred sambals. The simplest, sambal oelek ,contains only chiles and salt. Sambal belacan contains shrimp paste, and sambal kemiri has candlenuts, so be sure to read the label if you have any dietary restrictions.

For thin coconut milk, use the liquid at the bottom of the can under the more solid layer.

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