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This spicy tender peri peri tofu is vegan, delicious, and incredibly easy to make! Pressing the tofu is optional, then just quickly sear on either side, blend up the peri-peri sauce, and cook together.
Peri-peri (also known as piri-piri) is actually the name for a type of chili pepper (small bird’s eye chilis). Peri-peri sauce was produced by the Portuguese settlers in Africa (there is some dispute over whether it originated in Mozambique or Angola).
Unfortunately, where I live in Spain I don’t always have access to chili peppers, nevermind the more specialized varieties like bird’s eye, so in a fit of annoyance one day (another grocery trip with no chili peppers to show for it) and a craving for Nando’s, I developed this peri peri tofu recipe.
It relies on hot sauce and Sriracha for heat, rather than fresh chilis (and as such is totally inauthentic – but also totally tasty!). You can serve with the tofu as is, add in chickpeas and/or veggies, add to skewers, enjoy over rice, whichever way you want!
If you’re just a fan of peri peri flavors but not so much tofu, then check out my peri peri sauce recipe which I loosely based this one on. If Sriracha, caught your eye there, then try my Sriracha pasta!
How to make it
Peri peri tofu is really easy to make and easy to customize as well. First, gather your ingredients and prepare them. I recommend checking out the picture below to make sure you’ve got the right ingredients.
For the oil, use any oil that doesn’t have a strong flavor, such as canola or sunflower for example. I cheated and used store-bought roasted red peppers, but you can use homemade if you prefer. I used apple cider vinegar for tang but a red or white wine vinegar would do either. The hot sauce should be a vinegar-based one such as:
Finally make sure the tofu is firm, extra firm preferably. Oh and I add vegetable stock to everything as it really adds extra flavor but if you don’t have any, water is fine.
I press my tofu for about half an hour before I start cooking it because it really helps it to absorb more flavor. It’s an optional step so skip it if you must, but even ten minutes of pressing will make a difference.
You can press your tofu by wrapping it in a clean tea towel and popping it on top of a wire rack and then placing something heavy (like a cast-iron skillet) on top of it, or just use a tofu press. I was sent a free Tofu Bud press to try out a while ago and while skeptical at first, now I love it.
It’s just way more efficient at getting liquid out than I am, and it doesn’t take up too much space in the cupboard as the few pieces that come with it all fit inside each other.
Whether you’ve pressed your tofu or not, heat up a skillet (preferably with ridges) on high heat and slice the tofu into squares that are roughly two inches across and only half an inch thick – you’ll be cooking the tofu on just the top and the bottom (image one below).
Add the oil, and when hot, add the tofu and cook for one to two minutes on each side (top and bottom) until golden (image two above). Remove with a slotted spatula and drain on a paper towel.
Peel the garlic and onion and chop the onion into four chunks and add with all the other ingredients to a blender or food processor (image three below), and blitz until smooth (image four).
If you don’t have coconut cream, you can just skim the thickened part from the top of a can of coconut milk that hasn’t been shaken, or one which you’ve refrigerated for a while.
Add the tofu and blended sauce to a saucepan (image five below, I added the coconut cream here but just ignore that as later I saw it made no difference and was easier to just add it to the blender) and heat on high.
Once it’s gotten to a really lively simmer, reduce heat slightly to medium-high, and allow to bubble away for around fifteen minutes or until thickened to your liking (image six).
Stir occasionally to make sure the tofu doesn’t stick to the bottom. Taste and see if it’s spicy enough to your liking, if you want it hotter add extra hot sauce.
This spicy vegan peri peri tofu is perfect as a side dish, or as a main dish over steamed rice, with corn on the cob and some vegan coleslaw on the side.
It’s also perfect for barbecues and cookouts – make the recipe as is but skip the first frying step, and then grill the finished peri peri tofu instead. Or remove the peri peri tofu from the excess sauce and slide on to soaked wooden skewers with peppers, onion, and cherry tomatoes, and grill for some delicious spicy veggie kabobs, brushing with the excess sauce every now and then.
If you have “extra” sauce, what I also do a lot is add in cooked chickpeas and vegetables and a bit of extra coconut cream or coconut milk to make it more “saucy” and serve over rice.
It’s also amazing in tacos as well, believe it or not! Smother with vegan sour cream and add chopped raw tomatoes, onions and peppers.
Not once it’s cooked. Tofu takes on a very different texture when frozen and absorbs a lot of liquid and needs to be completely pressed when defrosted, which would undo cooking all the flavor in. And I don’t recommend cooking the sauce ahead of time either because cooking the tofu in it gives it a lot of flavor. If needs be you could freeze the prepared blended sauce and chopped tofu separately, then defrost and press the tofu and then continue to cook as in the recipe.
This will keep up to four days in the fridge and is great for meal prep.
Did you make this peri peri tofu? Let me know how much you loved it with a star rating in the recipe box, review, or comment below.
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- 12oz firm or extra firm tofu (340g)
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil (canola, sunflower etc.)
- 2/3 cup roasted red pepper (150g or 5.2oz)
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce (vinegar-based, see notes)
- 1 medium onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons vinegar (ACV, red wine or white wine vinegar)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup vegetable stock (or substitute water)
- 3 tablespoons coconut cream (optional)
- Optionally, press the tofu for between ten minutes to half an hour. Slice into two-inch pieces that are half an inch thick.
- Add the oil to a skillet (preferably one with ridges) and heat on high. Fry tofu on top and bottom for one-two minutes on each side until golden.
- Peel the onion and garlic, cut the onion into four. Add with all the remaining ingredients to a blender or food processor and process until smooth.
- Place the tofu and sauce in a pot and heat on high. When at a lively simmer, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for around fifteen minutes or until the sauce has thickened to your liking, stirring occasionally to prevent the tofu from sticking.
Typical vinegar-based hot sauces include Frank's RedHot, Valentina, Louisiana Hot Sauce, Tasbaco original, etc.
Nutrition InformationYield 3 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 262Total Fat 15gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 0mgSodium 910mgCarbohydrates 22gFiber 4gSugar 15gProtein 14g