This Spicy Peanut Tofu Bowl recipe with Coconut Forbidden Rice and bok choy comes together with ease for a hearty and nourishing weeknight meal. This recipe is vegetarian and vegan.
Who Eats this Stuff?
Before we get to this tofu bowl, a little back story. When I first heard about tofu, I thought is was something I’d never eat. But after giving up meat, I became curious. Although I wanted to try it, I resisted because I didn’t know what the hell to do with a watered down, spongy square block of food. I mean, really?
Who eats this stuff?
I’d go to the store and contemplate buying it, standing in front of the cooler staring at it as if somewhere out of the blue how to cook it would hit me. After-all it looked like no meat I’d ever eaten before (it is a meat replacement, right?).
It’s not like I could’ve gone to the nearest vegetarian restaurant and try it. When I was living in Texas, tofu wasn’t served in restaurants, and food blogs weren’t even a thing.
Being a new vegetarian was hard…
I garnered the courage to put tofu in my basket, convincing myself this is the next step to learning how to prepare it. I hadn’t a clue what I’d do with it.
I tossed it in the freezer and forgot about it.
Then I started reading a new cookbook I was gifted. Vegetarian Classics inspired me to do something with that dang tofu.
So I did, not sure what I was getting into.
I now prepare that spongy block with the confidence I used to prepare rump roast with.
About Preparing Tofu
I learned that freezing tofu when bringing it home from the store prepares it to soak up lots of marinade after thawing and pressing. Pressing the tofu prior to baking or cooking removes the water to make room for the marinade.
I’ve also learned baking or dry-pan toasting the tofu after pressing out the water prior to marinating assists in improving the tofu’s texture, drying it out even further.
It sounds like a lot to do to prepare tofu. I get it. But once you do it, and get the flow down, you’ll be whippin up tofu like a boss!
How to Make Peanut Tofu
Super simple to pull together, I include this peanut tofu in many tofu bowls because it pairs so well with a wide array of veggies.
- First, bake for 20 minutes. This will dry the tofu out.
- Next, make the marinade by whisking the maple syrup, tamari, oil, sriracha, peanut butter, garlic and ginger. Stir in the baked tofu and marinate for at least 10 minutes.
- Last, in a skillet, cook tofu on medium heat, allowing it to get a little crispy with some crust forming from the marinade. Cook until crispy and warmed through.
Keep warm while the rice finishes cooking and the bok choy is wilted.
How to Make Coconut Forbidden Rice
This rice is incredibly fragrant, and with the addition of coconut milk, gives it a subtle sweetness that takes this rice over the top! A spoonful of black rice has as many antioxidants as a spoonful of fresh blueberries. Put it on your list!
- First, In a medium sauce pan, add the rice, coconut milk, water and salt. Bring to a boil, cover and turn heat to low.
- Next, cook for 40 minutes with lid on. Start checked at about 35 minutes to make sure the rice is not sticking. If it is, give it a stir and put the lid back on.
- Last, remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.
Easy peasy, weeknight tofu bowls are ready!
A Few Tofu Bowl Notes
- New to forbidden rice (aka black rice)? I discovered it at our local co-op in the bulk bins. I was intrigued and brought some home. It’s nutty, slightly sweet and versatile. It’s different however from wild rice in that wild rice has an earthier flavor and is long grain.
- If time permits, freeze then thaw out your tofu before preparing it. Freezing improves it’s texture.
- For meal prep, the tofu can be baked and marinated up to one days in advance. The coconut forbidden rice, up to three days in advance.
- Freezer friendly? The tofu is, but the rice and bok choy I prefer to prepare fresh.
More Forbidden Rice Recipes to Love
- Forbidden Rice Cereal Bowl by Foolproof Living
- Porcini Mushrooms and Greens Brown Rice Gratin
- Forbidden Rice Salad with Mango and Coconut Curried Dressing
Spicy Peanut Tofu Bowl with Coconut Forbidden Rice
For the Rice:
- 1 C Forbidden Rice 200g
- 1 Can Full Fat Coconut Milk 390g
- 3/4 C Water 178g
- 1/8 tsp Sea Salt
For the Tofu:
- 10 oz Sprouted or Very Firm Tofu pressed (see note), 285g
- 4 Tbs Maple Syrup or Brown Sugar
- 1/4 C Tamari 62g
- 3 Tbs Sesame Oil divided
- 1-2 Tbs Sriracha 2 for the heat!
- 3 Tbs Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter
- 2 Cloves Garlic microplaned
- 2 tsp Fresh Ginger microplaned
For the Bok Choy:
- 2 Bok Choy 300g
- 1-2 Tbs Sesame Oil
- Pinch of Sea Salt
- Fresh Ground Pepper
- Toasted and chopped cashews
- Lime wedges
- Thai basil or cilantro
For the Rice:
- In a medium sauce pan, add the rice, coconut milk, water and salt. Bring to a boil, cover and turn heat to low. Cook for 40 minutes with lid on. Start checked at about 35 minutes to make sure the rice is not sticking. If it is, give it a stir and put the lid back on. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.
For the Tofu:
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Slice the tofu into 1" cubes and place on a parchment or silpat lined sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes. This will dry the tofu out.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk the maple syrup, tamari, oil, sriracha, peanut butter, garlic and ginger. Whisk to combine the marinade. Stir in the baked tofu and marinate for at least 10 minutes (30 if you can).
- Warm a medium non-stick saute pan on medium heat with 1 Tbs of sesame oil. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tofu to the pan. Some of the marinade will transfer to the pan, most of it should stay in the bowl. Cook tofu on medium heat, allowing it to get a little crispy with some crust forming from the marinade. Cook the tofu until crispy and warmed through, stirring and tossing occassionally. About 5-8 minutes. Keep warm. Leftover marinade can be frozen to be used again. Or, gently warm it and use it as a sauce to slather over the tofu just before serving.
For the Bok Choy:
- Slice the bok choy, lengthwise, in half. In a nonstick pan, add 1 Tbs of sesame oil, swirl it around in the pan and heat until shimmering. Place the bok choy in the pan, flat side down. Cook for 2 minutes, flip, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add 2 Tbs water to the pan and put a lid on for about 30 seconds to wilt the bok choy. Remove from heat and keep warm.
Assemble the Bowls:
- Divide the rice, tofu and bok choy between bowls and garnish with cashews, lime wedges and basil. Refrigerate leftovers in a covered container for up to three days.
I love so many of your recipes for the ease, nutritional status, and flavor (yum value!). Sometimes Hubby isn’t quite as excited. Last night was a complete success. The steps to get the tofu to this level is 1,000% worth the effort. We like tofu well enough but this method is outta the park! Will make again and again. Hubby says he doesn’t like ginger but devoured the marinade over the tofu. Also Hubby doesn’t like coconut in any form so I was taken aback when he said he looooved the rice! Who is this person?
Thank you, Traci, for bringing excitement to our kitchen.
Hi Hiiii Camille! Thank you for your note, patroning the blog and sending a smile. Your note completely made my day! Hooray for a happy you and hubby! I *SO* understand the not quite excited… I went down that road for several years until hubby had a revelation (haha!). I know, “who is this person!?” LOL! I can so relate! Thank you again, Camille! Can’t wait to hear what you try next!
Delicious!!! the tofu prep method you use in a number of your recipes. Makes a huge difference to the texture
Thank you Traci
Hi Avra! Oh I’m super happy to hear this. It’s all about the texture, right? Thank you for your note, Avra, and giving the recipe a go!
This was delicious and quite easy to do! Absolutely going to be a regular weeknight meal at our house.
Hi Audrey! Hooray for a tasty weeknight meal! Isn’t that coconut milk with the forbidden rice such a nice surprise? Thank you for your note!
I love this combination of sweet & spicy, plus all the textures. I baked the tofu 15 min, flipped and baked for 20, flipped and baked for 5… all at 450 degrees. Seemed easier! Thank you this recipe is a keeper.
So happy to hear you’re enjoying the recipe, Kim! Thank you for coming back and leaving a note, and sharing your tofu baking tips!
Jenny | The Baking Skillet
Just made this and it is sooo delicious. I especially loved the Tofu and the baking really works wonders for the texture. I added some Beansprouts coz I had some and it added a nice crunch. Thanks for sharing.
Hooray! Thank you for sharing, Jenny. I’m so happy you enjoyed the recipe! And I love your addition of beansprouts! :D
I didn’t have full fat coconut milk, only light, but it turned out to be the best black rice I had ever made. usually it’s dry. we had this for meatless Monday, we both loved it, very flavor full, lots of different tastes in every bite. it’s a keeper
Oh this is great Denise and I’m so happy light coconut milk worked well for you! Thank you for your note! Hooray for meatless Monday! :D
I have never heard of forbidden rice. It goes on my shopping list today! Tofu, don’t even get me started. Love the stuff and with your sauce recipe sounds divine! Thanks for sharing :)
Hi Theresa! Thank you for your note. I too just discovered forbidden rice. It’s like no other rice I’ve had before. I just love it! I hope you enjoy it :D
I made this today. I didn’t have Forbidden Rice. I used wild rice instead. Perhaps it was the coconut milk I used but the rice tasted like chocolate. It wasn’t appealing. The tofu & bok choy however turned out great. Will definitely make again with an alternative rice recipe.
Hi Jena! Thank you for your note. So happy you like the tofu and boc choy! Yeah, I can’t imagine pairing wild rice with coconut milk. Wild rice and forbidden rice have very different textures and flavors. I wouldn’t want my rice to taste like chocolate either!
Katie @ Garnish Blog
I made this last night, and I’m eating leftovers right now. Such a delicious recipe! The tofu marinade in particular is incredible. I can see using it for lots of other things. Thanks for a great meal!
Thank you for sharing, Katie! I just made the tofu recipe last night with previously frozen leftover sauce. So happy you enjoyed the recipe!
This bowl sounds so delicious! Love your sauce recipe for the tofu!
Oh my!!! I grew up as a vegetarian, and even though I eat meat now I still thing vegetarian food is/always will be my favorite. I’ve had to come up with meals so that my carnivore husband will eat vegetarian meals during the week and so far we both agree on tofu stir frys and dishes of that sort. This looks divine! I’m going to have to try this!
What a great way to bridge eating styles, Sonal! No doubt, Rob loves this recipe and a few other tofu dishes I’ve made. But the tofu must have lots of flavor for him to like it. I hope you enjoy this!
I made the tofu part of this recipe a few days ago, I shared it in my vegetarian Facebook fan page and, as I promised, here I am giving testimony of hope great this recipe is! Really, it was a huge success! What an amazing combination of flavors and textures! The marinade is one of the best ones I´ve tried, and so easy to make! If you are afraid of tofu in any way, give it a chance with this recipe, you will fall in love instantly!
Thank you so much for trying the recipe AND sharing it with your facebook group! I use a very similar marinade recipe for a dressing in my Thai Lentil Lettuce Wraps. I figured why not give it a try as a marinade with tofu! I sometimes make a double batch of the tofu and snack on it cold or toss it in a salad with red bells, ses seeds, snap peas and a quick tahini dressing. It’s quite a versatile recipe. Thank you again, Adela for your comments! I’m so happy you enjoyed it!
The drying the tofu out technique is something I swear by when I used tofu for stir frys. This bowl looks so good. Never tried forbidden rice but always been curious as to how it tastes. Those bowls are so pretty!
Shikha @ Shikha la mode
Haha growing up in California, tofu has been second nature! But I think some cooking methods are definitely better than others. I love it when it’s crisp and flavorful!
Then this is for you, Shikha! :D
I really like the looks of this recipe and totally intend to make it very soon, but I have never come across forbidden rice before … do you think it might also be called wild rice (which is a type of grass as opposed to a rice?)
I have now found a source of forbidden rice and it is definitely NOT wild rice!
Hey Marina! So happy you found a resource…. definitely not wild rice! I hope you enjoy it!
I was attracted to this recipe immediately and made it last night. To increase the appeal to my children, I added stir fried carrots, broccoli and red peppers. I heated the remaining marinade after sautéing the tofu. The end result was so delicious, I want to eat this every night! The addition of peanut butter to the classic teriyaki marinade really gives this dish a fantastic twist.
Thank you! This will now be in the dinnertime rotation!
Hooray, Pamela! Thank you for your note, and I’m thrilled to hear you added more veggies to make it appealing to your kiddos! So happy you and your fam enjoyed it! :D
I’ve never thought of freezing the tofu first to help prep for the marinade. We never marinade tofu in Chinese cooking, so there’s a whole new area of tofu prep that I have yet to explore more. I’ve got to try that trick out soon! Beautiful bowl, Traci!
Just imagine all the flavor combinations, Lisa!
Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures
Delicious! I don’t know much about preparing tofu, but this dish looks super appetizing!
Thank you, Laura! I hope this helps.
Sarah | Well and Full
I really appreciate the tips on preparing tofu, Traci! I’m still such a newbie when it comes to tofu… I never really grew up eating it, and I usually opt for chickpeas or beans for my protein. But maybe I’ll have to give tofu a second chance now that I know these fantastic tips ;) Thanks girl!
Welcome my dear! Chickpeas and beans are a staple around here too… and then there’s tofu at least every few weeks. I hope you enjoy it, Sarah!
Izzy @ She Likes Food
My mom was a vegetarian when I was a little kid so I grew up on tofu and have always loved it, but I can definitely see how people can be skeptical of it! The trick is to season it well and it looks like you have done that here! That crust looks amazing and I bet it tastes delicious! I will have to try it this way soon :)
Oh that’s great, Izzy! Do you remember liking it as a kid? No doubt, it’s all about the prep work and seasoning. I hope you enjoy it, Izzy! :D
I adore forbidden rice and it looks so great with this tofu! I never knew about the freezing tofu trick- I’ll have to try that! I’ve finally converted Ryan into liking tofu too so it’s become a regular around our house now too. Coconut is such a great complement to forbidden rice and I love adding a touch of ginger along with it as the rice cooks. Really wonderful, Traci!
Oh that’s good to hear, Emily! Rob used to hate it, but I think it was because I didn’t know, really how to prepare it. Now, he doesn’t scrunch his nose up when I tell him we’re having tofu – and he actually enjoys it! Thank you for the ginger tip, Emily! I’ll do it! :D
Geraldine | Green Valley Kitchen
I don’t eat tofu enough, Traci – It always seems to crumble apart if I saute it or be too hard if I bake it. But I have not tried freezing it – so thanks for that tip. Will be trying this soon. And is forbidden rice the same as black rice? I will have to look out for in the market. And bring on the bok choy – love it – and I’ve never tried cooking it the way you have – so definitely trying that too! Hope you have a good weekend.
Augh… the extremes. I get it, Geraldine. See if you can find WildWood sprouted tofu – firm or extra firm. I’ve found it to hold together and have an excellent texture, more-so than other brands I’ve tried. Black rice and forbidden rice, I think are one in the same. I just picked up more bok choy from the farm! I love it to! xo
Sarah @ Snixy Kitchen
I love hearing about your first experience with tofu! I’m not a vegetarian, but tofu is now also one of my favorite things to prepare – I love how much it will soak in the marinades. I’ve never thought to freeze it though – brilliant! I also LOVE that forbidden rice – we always have a bag on hand. Relatedly: have you every tried Hodo Soy’s extra firm tofu??
This spicy peanut tofu bowl is so gorgeous – I love the contrast to the dark forbidden rice and I bet it pairs with the nuttiness of that rice just perfectly!
Hey Sarah, I’ve not tried Hodo Soy’s extra firm.. but I’m looking it up now! Thank you for the tip! Oh yeah, that forbidden rice is sublime. I especially love it with Thai flavors.. it seems to pair so perfectly. xo
You are so SO sweet. Thank you for sharing my recipe as well. <3 I love forbidden rice and I think it has a potential to save the world. Ha ha.. :))
I feel the same way about tofu. It is a block of blah, but they way you did made me want to give it a shot. Such great tips there for beginners like me Traci.
Looks scrumptious, as always.
My pleasure, Aysegul! Agreed about saving the world… LOL block of blah! Indeed… until the magic happens! I hope you go for it, taking that tofu bull by the horns and wrangling it! xo
Heeheeh, enjoyed reading about your journey towards embracing the tofu :)) my first few stabs were pretty much disasters (inedible) – it was before the internet age (oy) and we didn’t have handy access to all these inspiring recipes and information… so an apprenticeship it was. As you demonstrate so well here, it’s all in the prep – those crispy seared cubes are just gorgeous Traci and I’m digging the peanutty sauce you’ve pulled together for us. Lotza heat on mine please :o/ Beautiful pics my dear. You sure make tofu look good.
heheheee! right.. disasters, me too. I forgot to mention that! I’ll pour on the heat for you Kelly! Thank you for your encouragement! xo
Hi Traci, read your IG post and switched over your Website to check it out. I am really the same. I played with Tofu several times and I haven’t found a way to prepare it tasty. LOL. I enjoy reding all your recommendations about the right preparation. Thank you so much. I tried my Tofu in my buckwheat noodle salad and it was the first time I really enjoyed it! Will try out your Version as soon as I find the time. xoxo Janine
Thank you for stopping by Janine! I hope my experience helps you take charge of that tofu! Here’s to trying new things! xo
Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen
I started experimenting with tofu when I was in school, and I’ve loved it ever since. It’s just too bad I can’t get John to eat it – he just doesn’t believe me that the right marinade can make it taste amazing. I’ll have to try this recipe next time he’s not home for dinner. ;)
Would it help to know that Rob used to give me the thumbs down… but the more I worked with it and learned how to prepare it, not he eats it and even takes leftovers to work! :D It was quite an evolution. Maybe John will come around. I hope he does, at least! :D
I love love love everything going on here! Bok choy is a fave of mine, but I just do not have it enough. And tofu on the other hand, I have ALL the time, but I absolutely never get sick of it. I’ve never tried forbidden rice, but I have to get my hands on some! Pinning this :)
Thaaank you Medha! Oooh bok choy is sooo good right now. This was in our CSA and I just picked up more this week. I love it too! Go get that forbidden rice! :D
Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary
Well, it is patently clear you know what to do with tofu now! So glad you decided to start cooking with tofu, because now you are the Masta’! While I do cook with tofu from time to time, I am not overly confident, so I thank you for all your tips and tricks! This bowl is beautiful, Traci and it looks seriously delicious! Love all the flavors and you know I am totally loving that spice!! Also digging that this bowl of yum is healthy – excellent because I could most definitely eat this beauty on the regular! Pinned! Cheers, friend! xo
Finally… it took me long enough! hehe! Thank you for your pin Chey! xo
I saw this in my inbox and immediately wanted to make it! I love freezing tofu! And I’ve really been enjoying Thai basil lately! Beautiful post, Traci!
Oh my goodness, DEB! You’re on vaca and you stopped by!? :D Thank you Sweets! So happy to hear your a tofu freezer too. It DOES make a difference, right? That thai basil is incredible.. oh my!
Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health
Yep, you’re definitely whipping up tofu like a boss, Traci! Haha! The crust on those cubes looks perfect and thinking about the peanut and coconut combo is making my mouth water. It’s easy to be a vegetarian when food looks this good! :)
Hehe! Ohhh that crust. It’s so nice.. a little peanutty. No doubt … much easier than it used to be! :D
rebecca | DisplacedHousewife
This looks SO delicious!!! I love tofu, love black rice — gorgeous. I agree with you, pressing the tofu is key. I’m always looking for new recipes using it and this one looks amazing. xo
Hooray! Such a delicious combination, Rebecca. I’m on the hunt for more ways to enjoy it too.. and that black rice! xo
danielle | rooting the sun
Traci, I’m so very in love with tofu. I’m not even sure if there was a grace period for me as I sit and ponder the initial event! Perhaps, love at first floating block. It’s a favorite weeknight dinner of mine, and I am forever thirsting for new techniques to perfect my game. I’ve never heard of freezing it, but I am going to give this a shot! Thank you so much, and I hope your season is beautiful so far. xo
Hooray fellow tofu lover! Love at first floating block – lol! While you had heart eyes, I had stink eyes! LOLOL! :D I hope you’ll try freezing it, Danielle. Apparently freezeing expands the sponge structure so that eventually when it’s pressed, then marinated, it will pull in more marinade. xo
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
I must admit, I’ve never tried tofu Traci, but you’ve definitely got me curious. I’m really loving the marinade you’ve created for it. And it’s so funny, but Tom and I went out to dinner just last night and the dish he ordered contained several elements that are very similar to this dish! He enjoyed a halibut with bok choy and forbidden rise. It was hilarious because you know from following my blog how picky Tom can be and when that dish showed up at our table with the forbidden rice the expression on his face was priceless!! He thought it was going to look like regular white rice. He wouldn’t believe me when I told him that yes, that dark stuff was the rice. He had to ask the waiter for confirmation before he picked up his fork and dove in! Always an adventure with him! Such a creative dish here Traci. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful weekend.
LoL! That cracks me up, Mary Ann! Tom and Rob would get along just fine. :D Although Rob likes forbidden rice now, when I first made it, he looked at it as if something was terribly wrong… the dark stuff! LOL He said it’s not ‘regular’ rice… OMGeee!! I get it! The bok choy and forbidden rice pair so well together… but I think it would be just delicious what any seasonal green.