Sesame Eggplant & Almond Butter Tofu Bowls

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A bowl filled with our recipe for Sesame Eggplant & Almond Butter Tofu for a delicious plant-based meal

It’s been a few months since we’ve been in our new (and first!) home, but I still get nostalgic about our old neighborhood even though it’s just 10 minutes away, and our new neighborhood is pretty awesome as well.

In our old apartment, we were super close to a Boké Bowl – a healthy, Asian, “fast food” restaurant in Portland. My favorite dish there was definitely the tofu rice bowl. Tender, sticky rice, perfectly fried tofu, seared eggplant, and kimchi.

It was so delicious I knew I had to recreate it at home. Consider this my inspired version.

Fresh eggplants on a cutting board ready to be made into Sesame Stir-Fried Eggplant

This dish requires just 30 minutes to make, and it can be modified to taste and what’s in season.

Currently, I’m digging on eggplant (these are little Japanese eggplant!). But you can also go for something like sugar snap peas, squash, or bell pepper if that’s more your thing.

The base is rice, the protein is my go-to almond butter tofu, and the toppings are abundant. Kimchi strongly recommended.

Cooking eggplant in a cast-iron skillet for a delicious gluten-free vegan meal
Cooking Almond Butter Tofu in a cast-iron skillet for a protein-packed plant-based meal

This dish is like a hug from fall. It’s:

Hearty
Comforting
Saucey
Vegetable-packed
Protein- + Fiber-rich
Quick
Healthy
& Insanely delicious

This would make the perfect weeknight meal when you’re craving something healthy yet satisfying. It’s delicious on its own, but it would also pair especially well with my 20-minute Asian Kale Salad, or these Healthy Spring Rolls!

If you try this recipe, let us know! We love seeing your comments, ratings, and your photos tagged #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Bowl of Sesame Eggplant & Almond Butter Tofu with rice and chopsticks

Sesame Eggplant & Almond Butter Tofu Bowls

Hearty, flavorful, 30-minute Asian bowl with crispy almond butter tofu and sesame stir-fried eggplant!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Using chopsticks to pick up a piece of Sesame Tofu
4.94 from 49 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 3 (bowls)
Course Entree
Cuisine Asian-Inspired, Gluten-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? Best when fresh

Ingredients

TOFU

  • 8 ounces extra-firm tofu
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil

SAUCE

  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp salted creamy almond, cashew or peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp tamari (or soy sauce if not GF)
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 1/2 -2 Tbsp maple syrup or coconut sugar
  • 1 medium birds eye chili, crushed (or sub 1 tsp chili garlic sauce // amount as original recipe is written)

EGGPLANT

  • 1 Tbsp toasted or untoasted sesame oil
  • 2 medium Japanese eggplants (stem removed, halved, then cut in 1-inch pieces // skin on)
  • 1 Tbsp tamari (or soy sauce if not gluten free)
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds (optional)

FOR SERVING optional

Instructions

  • Start by wrapping tofu in a clean towel and setting something heavy on top (like a cast iron skillet) to press out excess moisture for 10 minutes. Set aside.
  • If serving with traditional rice, start now by adding 3/4 cup (150 g) white or brown rice and 1 1/3 cups (320 ml) water to a small saucepan and bringing to a boil (amounts as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size). Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover with a secure lid, and cook for 20-25 minutes. Set aside.
  • Prepare the tofu sauce in a medium mixing bowl by whisking together sesame oil, almond butter, tamari, lime juice, maple syrup, and crushed chili (or chili garlic sauce). Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more tamari for saltiness, lime juice for acidity, chili pepper for heat, or maple syrup for sweetness. Set aside.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat and cut pressed tofu into small rectangles. Toss in cornstarch (they should be well coated) and sauté in 2 Tbsp sesame oil (amount as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size), flipping once browned on the underside to ensure even browning – about 5 minutes total.
  • Add the almond butter sauce (see photo) and stir to combine. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring gently to ensure even cooking on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • To the still hot pan - over medium-high heat - add 1 Tbsp sesame oil (amount as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size) and once hot, the eggplant. Drizzle with tamari, maple syrup and sesame seeds (optional) and sauté, stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes or until browned on all sides.
  • To assemble, divide rice between serving bowls (2-3 as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size) and top with eggplant, tofu and other desired toppings, such as fresh vegetables, Asian pickles, Kimchi, or chili garlic sauce. Best when fresh.

Notes

*Recipe adapted from my Crispy Peanut Tofu & Cauliflower Rice Stir Fry and my Thai Noodle Bowls with Almond Butter Tofu.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate for 1 of 3 servings calculated with 3/4 cup uncooked rice, and no kimchi or additional toppings.

Nutrition (1 of 3 servings)

Serving: 1 bowls Calories: 551 Carbohydrates: 72.9 g Protein: 15.8 g Fat: 23.9 g Saturated Fat: 3.2 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 578 mg Fiber: 12.6 g Sugar: 16.8 g

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My Rating:




  1. Carol V says

    This was so good. My husband and I are trying to eat less meat for health and environmental reasons. My husband had never had tofu before, and my experience was less than ideal in the past. But we loved this and my husband kept taking more tofu from my bowl. We added kimchi on the side.

  2. Kay says

    This is superb! I didn’t have any of the suggested toppings but used green onions and a bit of soy sauce. I also used one regular eggplant as I couldn’t find the Japanese ones. I’ll definitely make it again!

  3. Ale says

    The flavors were great but I felt like the tofu was mushy. It was looking pretty crisp after cooking it in the cast iron coated in cornstarch but when I added the sauce it made it mushy and also the sauce started to burn pretty quickly (I had my burner on medium low). Was expecting a crispier tofu.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Ale, did you use extra firm tofu and make sure to press it to remove moisture? That should help with the texture!

  4. Jenna says

    All I want to eat for the rest of my life is this dish…WOW! This is the best tofu sauce I’ve ever had!!! Simple recipe and easy to follow. Minimal dishes were used so clean up was nice and easy. I used an American eggplant so I peeled it before throwing it in the pan. Definitely making it again! Probably at least once/week! Thank you for this amazing recipe!!!

  5. Sierra says

    I love this recipe! I couldn’t wait to make this again. Even made the quick pickles with cucumbers and jalapeños from my farm box. Instant pot jasmine rice made this so easy and there’s even leftovers to look forward to!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Sierra! Thanks so much for the lovely review!

  6. Judy says

    I was searching for a recipe that included eggplant and tofu… not expecting to find anything and landed on this amazing recipe. I had a regular (?) eggplant not Japanese and it tasted delicious. Made the cauliflower rice as well. Even my meat loving husband loved it. Very simple and quick to make. Top marks. Thank you!

  7. Syd says

    I made this a few nights ago and it was a hit with me and my mom. I made it less spicy and used less maple syrup and added a little extra lime and it was still well balanced in a sweet and tangy flavor. The cornstarch didn’t stick to the tofu as well as it does in your picture and the tofu didn’t get as brown either. Any suggestions? Also, where did you find Japanese eggplant? My whole foods didn’t have it.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Syd, we’re so glad you both enjoyed it! We found Japanese eggplant at a local health food store but it can also be found at farmer’s markets in the summer. We like to put the cornstarch and tofu in a sealed bag and toss it around to help coat. Hope that helps!

  8. Amanda B says

    This recipe sounds amazing! Any tips for using normal eggplant as opposed to a Japanese eggplant? Thank you :)

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Amanda, they may need to cook a little longer, but otherwise, it should work fine! Let us know how it turns out!

  9. Kathryn Castillo says

    I’ve been making your recipes for years. I trust you, respect you, and sincerely appreciate you. This is one of my favorites! Super simple. Incredibly delicious and filled with flavor. I could eat this nearly every day!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Aw, thanks so much for your kind words and lovely review, Kathryn! We’re so glad you enjoyed it!

  10. juliet says

    this was amazing and delicious! perfectly crispy tofu and sweet eggplant! I wasn’t going to eat all the tofu in one shot (self isolating alone at the moment) so took some of the crispy tofu out of the pan before adding the almond butter sauce so that I could reheat and recrisp the tofu in the toaster oven and adding in the sauce after for eating the leftovers.

  11. MacleanNash says

    This is one of my favourite tofu recipes!
    It always turns out great, it comes together quickly, and so satisfying!
    I highly recommend adding the quick pickled veg – I pickle pepper and cucumber.
    So tasty!

  12. Barbara Delsman says

    I’ve been afraid of cooking eggplant but followed some tips on coating it with salt, letting it rest for 30 minutes, rinse well, dry then cook. This dish wad delicious! A great way to do something different with tofu. Absolutely delicious!

  13. Elizabeth Burhop says

    WOW. Frank thought this was absolutely AMAZING. And he previously crinkled his nose when I told him what I was making. Served with extra roasted sesame seeds, thinly sliced pickles, fermented carrots and GABA Rice. Huge Hit. Thank You. ; )))

  14. Viv says

    So easy and delicious! I added extra peanut butter. Also used a whole lime instead of half. Added green onions and cilantro on top. Would definitely make again.

  15. Camila says

    This tofu is AMAZING!! My husband and I love this tofu recipe so much that we’ve pretty much had it 3 nights in a row. We made your Thai noodle bowl with peanut butter tofu the other day, and I made this recipe tonight with almond butter. Can’t get enough of this tofu!! Who knew I loved tofu so much :) Thanks Dana!!

  16. Shelby says

    This is one of my all-time favourite recipes. I return to it again and again, which made me realize I should comment and let you and everyone else know. I love added Japanese pickled onions with this. Definitely a staple in my dinner routine.

  17. Jenn says

    Omg Dana! I made this for dinner last night & absolutely love it! My boyfriend, who does most of the cooking in our household, was completely won over & said it was the best meal I’ve ever cooked for him! Praise indeed!

  18. Laura says

    Very good- would make again. I used peanut butter. I added green onions, cilantro and shredded carrot as toppings. I also added 1 red bell, sliced towards the end of cooking the eggplant. All of the added colors were nice.

  19. Heather says

    Yummy yummy yummy. I didn’t have eggplant and was too lazy to go buy one so I used snow peas instead.

    Also I didn’t have a lime so used rice vinegar, and ate this over small sized couscous -I was a little worried about it but it was a good combo! It’s all about the sauce!

  20. Chris says

    Loved the flavor party in my mouth. This is going to be my go to meal for sure.
    My family and I really enjoy your recipes!!

  21. Michelle says

    Obsessed with this recipe. Multiple variations of it are frequent in my weeknight rotation! Today I made the tofu, eggplant/brussels sprouts, and toasted cashews over rice noodles.

  22. Hanna says

    Yum! Made this with the addition of thinly sliced bell pepper and broccoli (pre-steamed until tender). I let it cook a bit longer since there was extra volume of veggies. I also used tapioca starch instead of cornstarch as that was all I had, but it still worked perfectly. Thanks for the easy and delicious recipe!

  23. Josie says

    So, so good. I roasted the eggplant earlier in the day, as I had a hot oven for another project. After cooking the tofu/sauce, I sautéed some book choi and, when it was nearly done, threw in the eggplant to reheat. Also, I doubled the recipe and we made a pact not to eat it in one sitting. Will power! Thank you for being a great resource for plant-based foodies.

  24. Kalei says

    I made this last night and everyone loved it, even the non-tofu eaters. Iʻm glad I decided to double the batch of tofu, because it almost disappeared before it made it to the table. Thanks for sharing this recipe. It will definitely become a stable in our house.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Rebecca, I am sorry to hear your eggplant was bitter! The older an eggplant gets, meaning the more time that’s passed since harvesting, the more bitter it becomes. For next time, try to use a fresh eggplant and that should help!

  25. Rose says

    This has become such a favourite of mine! During semester, I sometimes cook it twice a week because its so easy and SO delicious! Thanks!

  26. Shannon says

    I make this recipe all the time, and my whole family loves it! I usually roast the eggplant pieces without oil for about 35 minutes at 400 F before sauteing them, because I find that if I don’t the maple syrup in the saute sauce reduces down before the eggplant has a chance to get creamy.

  27. Eluned says

    I just made this and it’s seriously delicious! The peanut sauce is really tasty and the soy sauce and maple syrup on the aubergine really worked. I think this is going to be a new regular recipe for me :)

  28. Theresa says

    I can tell this is an A plus recipe and just cooked it. So will try it soon. One problem that devastated I did not cook in a non stick pan – next time will use your tofu bake method instead. I lost nearly all the sauce, caked to the bottom of my pan :*(

  29. Sophia says

    Yummmmm! I made this recently and it was delicious. I used natural peanut butter as I didn’t have almond butter. I found the eggplant took more like 10 minutes to cook to get it melt-in-your-mouth tender.

  30. Heather Dowling says

    Just made this with tahini instead of almond butter and cauliflower rice. It was so tasty! Some of my favourite tofu ever! Thanks!

  31. Dominique Salas says

    Darn, I have no idea how I messed this up, but I did. I might have coated the tofu too well with cornmeal. It ended up being kind of chalky instead of crispy. Also, when I added the eggplant (not Japanese) to the wok, there was no way to get the eggplant cooking. Instead it some was left on the top and the whole thing was cooking unevenly. I ended up using a small pan to cook in batches, which took a while. I wish I could find out what I did wrong or how I could have saved time somehow.

  32. Betsy says

    This almond butter / PB tofu is the real deal. I want to make the quick pickles, too…do you have a good sub for fish sauce? Thank you!

  33. Nicole says

    This wasn’t very good, I was expecting something SO delicious but it’s wasn’t. And it really took longer than I expected. The sauce is a keeper but nothing else.

  34. Nishisun says

    Hi! When I try to print this recipe with the print-friendly link, the page comes out blank. I’d love to be able to print it as it looks so yummy! Can you help? Thanks!

  35. Delisha says

    This dish was amazing, like everything else I have tried from your Website. Only thing I would change: as soon as I put the sauce for the tofu on the frying pan, it became solid. So next time, I will add it outside of the heat. Otherwise, the combination brown rice/seasoned Japanese eggplants with sesame/ seasoned tofu, kimchi and pickles was fantastic. I am going to get myself Buddha bowls as I plan to have this often. I accompanied the dish with your Caesar salad (whizzed in my high speed blender), which I love. THANK YOU!

  36. Anna says

    This was delicious! I used soft tofu and it turned out fine. Also added more veggies, broccoli and bok choy. I ended up making extra tofu sauce to drizzle over the top. So good! Thank you!

  37. Alexis says

    No Japanese eggplants here, so I used Brussels sprouts (steamed then sautéed in 1/2 the sauce)! So good! Fam loved it. Thanks do another amazing recipe!

  38. Jenny says

    Yum!! The sauce is epic!! I roasted the eggplant cubes til very soft, and I served it all with steamed spinach – I thought the dish needed something green for contrast. Excellent recipe :-)

  39. Catherine says

    Beyond delicious!! This reminded us a dish we could get at an authentic thai restaurant in nyc. Definitely out of my comfort zone but so ready to add it to our regular rotation.

  40. Amanda says

    This was awesome. I used agave instead of maple, and I made the cucumbers without fish sauce. Really really good combination of textures and flavors.

  41. Mags says

    Greetings from the UK, Dana!
    I don’t usually leave reviews but I had just had to get in touch to say this recipe is DELICIOUS! I’d even go as far as to say it’s the best tofu recipe I have EVER tried. It totally reminded me of a satay dish – salty, sweet and just the perfect amount of spicy. And oh gosh, coating the tofu in cornstarch to get that slightly crispy finish – just fab. Thank you!
    I only discovered your website recently but I am already completely obsessed with your recepies. I made your peanut butter cup pie for a dinner party a few weeks back and have since been asked to make it 3 times more ? It’s sooooooooo good!
    I’m also currently making your curry ramen and I cannot wait to eat it. I’ll be sure to let you know how it turns out.

    Thank you again
    Mags xx

  42. Meghann says

    I made this recipe on Sunday for myself, hubby, and 16 month old. I used broccoli and snap peas instead of eggplant- because that’s what was in the fridge! This was incredible. My meat loving husband couldn’t get enough of the tofu and my 16 month old was pounding the tofu as well. Thank you for making a recipe that allows non-tofu lovers to become lovers! We’ll be making again…. and again….

  43. Jen says

    I’m trying to eat more plant based meals and this recipe will be on regular rotation in my house. I made this the other night and it was delicious. I used baby eggplants which if you can find them are well worth it flavor and texture wise. Can’t wait to make it again!

  44. Janka says

    Surprisingly this might be the first savory dish of yours that I have made (I’m always drooling over your baked goods) and this recipe is AH-MAZE-ING! So hooked to the tofu prep now. I wish 1.5 servings didn’t fill me up so much because I want to keep eating it all!

  45. Rachel says

    I just made this tonight, followed the recipe to a T, so so good! The tofu is amazing, I had never done the cornstarch before. It was nice to have a recipe actually be easy and not take long like the author claims! Minimalist Baker for the win! I’ve got to try more of your recipes…

  46. Kathryn @ The Scratch Artist says

    I made this the other night and it was insanely delicious. I absolutely loved it. Thanks, Dana!

    I’m not the biggest fan of cornstarch so I omitted it and the result was excellent. For anyone wanting to make this dish without the cornstarch, have no fear. As long as you make sure to work with a very hot pan the tofu gets a nice crust on it without any coating.

  47. Alexandra says

    I LOVE your recipes, I always turn to your blog when I can’t decide what to make. I can’t express how appreciative I am for all the vegan recipe inspiration :)

    What I’m curious about is why you aren’t vegan if most of your recipes (and all of your more recent ones, if I’m not mistaken) are indeed vegan. I know there are plenty of reasons not to make that transition and plenty of reasons in favor of it. I probably am not the first to ask, just was wondering :)

    Thank you for inspiring me, Dana!

  48. Jo says

    Yum, yum and yum. So good! Finally, I have found a way to prepare tofu that tastes amazing. Best tofu I’ve had to date and pairs great with the eggplant. I used brown rice. Great flavors and great dish all around. Thanks!

  49. Anna says

    This was AMAZING! I’m trying to branch out on the things I cook, and this definitely has me going back to the kitchen to keep cooking. Delicious. I only had a regular eggplant, which worked just fine. I used about half of it. I also subbed cauliflower rice for regular rice and it was perfect. I had never made tofu before and honestly might have been a little hesitant to try. It was so easy! Definitely a fan.

  50. Jennifer says

    Very tasty recipe. I had no cornstarch so I used arrowroot instead–and it was just fine! I served with white Basmati rice and sauteed Brussels sprouts and I found it to be a very filling and satisfying vegetarian meal! My coworkers were all enchanted with the heavenly smell of my leftovers reheating at lunch today. Thank you!

  51. Alma @ Freelance Content Writer says

    Wow this looks delicious! Love the use of almond butter in tofu and also have a lot of recipes bookmarked to attempt when I return to my kitchen area in your home. Essentially almost every recipe is your own. Really I’m not the best at cooking tofu, however I truly want to transform that. With any luck when I make this dish it will taste like your image looks.

  52. Paulina says

    Ohmygosh. Dana. Just finished this for dinner. This was so delicious and creative! I’m not exaggerating when I say it was the most I’d ever enjoyed tofu! (Admittedly I’m still a tofu noob and only ever had it soggy and bland) Loved the crunchy texture and delicious sauce. I subbed a pre made garlicky hoisin based sauce for the sesame oil to coat the tofu because that’s all I had. SO GOOD *insert 100 and bomb emojis here. Thank you for sharing!!

  53. Jennifer says

    This was delicious! I make crispy tofu a lot on a cast iron skillet, but have never tried it with cornstarch–it worked well! I used chili garlic sauce and creamy peanut butter. Thanks for a great recipe!

  54. Nancy says

    This is SO delicious and satisfying, and having kimchi on the side was perfect. I did need to use more cornstarch and oil than called for, and I increased the amount of eggplant. I served with brown basmati. Yum! Love your recipes, Dana! So many tasty, easy winners.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      That’s something we’re trying to figure out! Try copying your comment and refreshing the page – hopefully that works! Thanks for sharing, Nancy. xoxo

  55. June says

    Hi Dana, I made this tonight and it was delicious! I used peanut butter as I didn’t have almond butter and a regular size eggplant. It was surprisingly easy to make although it took me longer than expected. Next time I will get all my ingredients ready in advance. Thank you for another great recipe!

  56. Isabella says

    I LOVE your recipes, make them all the time. But I’m worried about your cast iron skillets seasoning lol how do you get away with putting so many acidic foods in them? Thanks for the awesome post :)

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      I always re-season them after cooking! I wash them with water then rub them with oil and sea salt.

  57. Katherine says

    If I’m going to sub chili powder for the chilis, how much should I use? Still 1 tsp?

    We are loving your recipes in our household — I have a toddler with food allergies, so finding easy/quick recipes that don’t use eggs/dairy and can be consumed with minimal teeth/utensil skills is a challenge! Our favorites so far are your easy tofu stir fry, banana oat muffins (even with omitting the streusel topping), and the chocolate chip banana bread bites (again, even when omitting the chocolate chips!). Thank you for such wonderful recipes — this working mom to a food allergic toddler appreciates you!

      • Katherine says

        Update: Made this for dinner tonight and it was AWESOME. Toddler was uncertain about the eggplant but LOVED the tofu. Dinner was a huge hit with the husband and the toddler. Husband proclaimed it’s the best thing I’ve made yet. Thank you!!

  58. Greg Pappas says

    Loved tthe lasagna last week. It was a real hit. I did not have enough mac nuts so I replaced it with Red Mill egg replacement and a very ripe Barlett pear. Put it all right in the blender with the rest of the ricotta replacement. I’ve done vegan Bechamel with ripe pears for years, peeled, but this this ricotta I cored it and flipped it with the skin into the blender.
    Loving the Minamalist Baker. Thanks,
    Greg

  59. Plenty Vegan says

    Love the idea of almond butter and tofu. Also, eggplant is super intimidating to me so it’s always great to have ideas for easy eggplant recipes.

    SO excited to try this!

  60. Brooklyn says

    This looks so delicious. I’m not the best at cooking tofu, but I really want to change that. Hopefully when I make this recipe it will taste as good as your picture looks!

  61. Evan says

    I’m currently away at college, and have so many recipes bookmarked to try when I get back to my kitchen at home. Literally almost every recipe is yours! Oh this is going to be a fun winter break! :D