Sweet and Sour Tofu with Sesame Not-Prawn Toast – CHEAT MEALS!!!

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

Dazzle your non-vegan friends with a plant-based version of this classic!

Sweet and sour prawn balls with sesame prawn toast were integral parts of my perfect junk food takeaway meals for years back in the UK. When I moved to Vietnam, and made the decision to become Vegan I didn’t know if I’d ever experience the joy of these tasty classics again. Now, with some practice, I’ve perfected a 100% vegan sweet and sour tofu with sesame (not) prawn 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.

If you can get vegan prawns or shrimps, it will be the most realistic. You can get them at most Asian supermarkets, as well as vegan specialty stores. If you can’t find or don’t want to use vegan seafood substitutes, switch out smoked tofu on the toast, it’s just as delicious.

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: ideally you want to marinate the tofu for a good couple of days, it will just help it to soak up more of the flavour, and make it extra tasty!

  • ​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 giving it an extra shake every now and then.

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 completely adaptable and you can add in any other veggies you might like, this is just what I prefer 🙂

  • 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 regular oven.

  • 1 pack vegan prawns or shrimp made from konjac (if frozen, be sure to pre-thaw), or sub for 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 (I find the lower quality white bread works best and if it’s a bit stale it’s even better)
  • 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 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. Just keep an eye on them as everyone’s appliances differ, you want them to have a slight golden colour and should feel crisp to the touch.
    Optional: Garnish with chopped spring onions.

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

This article was edited and first appeared in the Tenderly publication on Medium. Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy!


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