Sweet and Sour Tofu with Sesame Not-Prawn Toast

A spread of toast triangles coated in sesame seeds, warm red sweet and sour tofu, and white rice
Photos: Anouska Parr

All vegan and all delicious

Sweet and sour tofu with sesame prawn toast were integral parts of my weekends for years. When I went vegan, and moved to Vietnam, I didn’t know if I’d ever experience the joy of these takeaway classics again. Now, with some practice, I’ve now perfected a 100% vegan sweet and sour tofu with sesame toast, and it’s surprisingly easy to make. I’ve even served it to meat-eaters who were equal parts confused and impressed with how authentic it tasted.

You’ll need vegan prawns or shrimp, made from konjac, for this recipe — luckily, that’s available at most large Asian supermarkets, as well as vegan specialty stores. If you live in the U.S., May Wah Vegetarian Market makes some and ships nationwide. If you can’t find or don’t want to use vegan seafood substitutes, you can substitute smoked tofu on the toast.

Is your mouth watering yet? Let’s get started.


Sweet and sour tofu in a bowl, with golden tofu and red and green bell peppers visible, garnished w sesame seeds

Sweet and Sour Tofu

Serves: 4–6 people

Tofu marinade

Note: Must be made the day before — you can skip this step if you didn’t plan ahead, just be sure you have a block of extra-firm tofu on hand.

  • ​1 block of extra-firm tofu, cut into cubes
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • ½ teaspoon five-spice powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

Put all of this in an airtight container, give it a very good shake to ensure the tofu is well coated, and store in the fridge for a minimum of 24 hours.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • 1 cup of water
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • ½ cup pineapple juice
  • ½ teaspoon minced ginger optional
  • ½ tablespoon tapioca starch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
  • Salt and sugar to taste
  1. Blend water, ketchup, rice vinegar, pineapple juice, and ginger (if using) until smooth and then transfer to a small saucepan.
  2. Add the tapioca starch and water mix, stir and heat on a medium setting until the sauce thickens.

Sweet and Sour Tofu Stir Fry

Note: This recipe is adaptable and you can add in any other veggies you may have on hand

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 small fresh pineapple or 1 can of pineapple, chopped to 1-inch chunks
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup spring onions or scallions, chopped (reserve a few for garnish)
  • 50 grams of any mushrooms you like
  • Marinated tofu (above) or a block of extra-firm tofu, cubed
  • For garnish: ½ tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • For serving: Jasmine rice, steamed
  1. Add the sesame oil to your wok on high heat. Once it’s hot, add the garlic and onion.
  2. Cook until golden, then add the pineapple, bell peppers, mushrooms, and tofu, and cook for around five minutes, keeping the peppers a bit crunchy.
  3. Add the sweet and sour sauce, making sure everything is evenly coated before taking the wok off heat.
  4. Garnish with sesame seeds and spring onions and serve with steamed jasmine rice.

A pile of sesame toast triangles covered in white sesame seeds, on a red plate

Not-Prawn Sesame Toast

Note: I use an air fryer for this recipe, but if you don’t have one you can use a convection or regular oven.

  • 1 pack vegan prawns or shrimp made from konjac (if frozen, be sure to pre-thaw), or smoked tofu
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons water)
  • 2 spring onions or scallions, chopped (optional: reserve some for garnish)
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5 pieces of sliced bread of your choice
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
  • Sesame oil
Vegan prawns — so realistic looking it blows my mind every time!
  1. If you are using an oven, preheat to 400°F.
  2. Toast your bread lightly on both sides, and then lightly brush one side of the toast with sesame oil.
  3. Add the vegan prawns (or tofu), ginger, garlic, flax egg, spring onions, light soy sauce, a drizzle of sesame oil, salt and white pepper to your blender and blitz until it’s a paste.
  4. Spread the prawn paste evenly across the side of the bread that you didn’t brush with oil.
  5. Place the sesame seeds onto a plate or in a shallow bowl and dip each toast, paste side down, into the sesame seeds so you get a nice even coating.
  6. Slice the bread diagonally, then air fry at 375°F for 10 minutes or bake at 400°F for 12 minutes. Optional: Garnish with chopped spring onions.

These keep well in the freezer if you want to do a big batch for later.

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