30 Minute Recipes/ Pan-Asian

Creamy Coconut Lime Tofu

creamy coconut lime tofu

This Creamy Coconut Lime Tofu makes for a great vegan dinner. This creamy, sour, and spicy tofu tastes great over steamed rice or noodles.

Creamy dishes are always a great comfort. But adding in flavours like coconut, lime, and chilli turns that comfort into an incredibly flavourful one.

That’s what this recipe is aimed to do. This is a flavour-packed comfort that comes together in under 30 minutes, which makes it perfect for a weeknight dinner, especially on a busy week.

Creamy Coconut and Lime Tofu

This is a quick and easy meal that’s satisfyingly delicious. It starts off with a creamy, spicy, and umami rich coconut base infused with chillies, garlic, and shallots.

We’re then throwing in some air fried tofu (for the best texture) as well as some lime zest and lime juice to add a lovely hint of sourness and freshness. And it’s ready all in under 30 minutes!

creamy coconut lime tofu

It’s part of my ‘30 Minute Recipes’ series!

This entire series will be full of recipes that can all be made in UNDER 30 MINUTES. They’re perfect for busy days, or for those evenings when you just want something quick.

In fact, they’re all recipes that I make for my own lunches and dinners. Though I’m always cooking for the blog, those recipes don’t make up my lunches and dinners.

You can find the rest of the recipes here.

What is tofu?

Tofu is known as bean curd and it’s made from soy bean curds. Soy milk undergoes a coagulation process to separate the curds, which are then compressed to form a block of tofu.

It’s a protein source eaten all across the world that first originated in China. Different types are available ranging from soft silken tofu all the way to extra firm tofu and even deep fried tofu puffs.

What does tofu taste like?

On its own, tofu is completely bland and flavourless. But it’s like a sponge and can pick up any flavour you pair with it.

The texture varies depending on what type of tofu you purchase. It can be a melt in the mouth experience with silken tofu, to a soft bite with regular tofu, to chewy and spongy tofu puffs.

creamy coconut lime tofu

The coconut and the lime are the stars of the show

These two ingredients really transform this dish, completely. The coconut adds richness, creaminess and sweetness. Whilst the lime adds the acidity and freshness.

Both crucial ingredients here so I’d definitely recommend not skipping either. Coconut, chilli, and lime go together so well.

A little chilli balances this coconut lime sauce perfectly

There’s a small amount of chilli here which brings everything to life. I’m always a fan of a little spice in my food, and this is no different. Trust me it’s worth it!

You get a balance of flavours from spicy, to sweet, sour, salty, and umami.

creamy coconut lime tofu

What to serve with this Creamy Coconut Lime Tofu

I think this Creamy Coconut Lime Tofu is best served over rice or noodles. That could be jasmine rice, basmati rice, long grain rice, or honestly any rice of your choosing.

I do love serving it over ribbon cut noodles. The scalloped edges mean more surface area to latch onto the sauce. But any noodles would honestly work. For example, rice noodles, wheat noodles, or glass noodles are also great here.

What you’ll need to make this Creamy Coconut Lime Tofu

I’ll cover the main ones below but the full recipe can be found at the end of the blogpost

  • Dried chillies – I love to use facing heaven chillies as they’re mild but also impart a great colour and flavour. But any dried chilli works. If you can’t find dried chillies, you could also use fresh red chillies though the flavour, colour, and heat may differ
  • Dried mushrooms – I used dried shiitake mushrooms here which are great for adding in an extra kick of umami. You won’t taste the mushrooms, but if you don’t have these you can leave them out or substitute with mushroom sauce or stock
  • Tofu – I’ve used firm tofu here, but medium firm, extra firm, or tofu puffs will also work. I find extra firm can be a little on the drier side so I hardly ever use it if I’m honest
  • Coconut milk – Any coconut milk works here, if you use one with a higher % of coconut then you’ll end up with a richer, creamier sauce. Alternatively if you wanted to use a light coconut milk, that would produce a less creamy sauce
  • Thai basil – This is a type of basil which has a mild star-anise/liquorice like flavour. If you can get a hold of it, it’s worth using as it adds great flavour
creamy coconut lime tofu

The KEY tips to getting this recipe right

  • Cook the spice paste first – by sautéing the spice paste first, this will intensify the flavour and colour. Whilst also taking out the rawness from the aromatics
  • Don’t cook this over a high heat – cooking over a high heat can make coconut milk split and curdle. So a lower heat is preferable here

How to make Creamy Coconut Lime Tofu

1) First start by deseeding the dried chillies

2) Then pop the dried chillies and some dried mushrooms into a bowl

3) Soak the chillies and mushrooms in boiling water for 15 minutes

4) Then add the chillies, mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and ginger to a food processor along with several tablespoons of the soaking water. This helps the food processor to blitz the paste otherwise it end up more chopped than blitzed

5) Blitz the aromatics to a coarse paste, this won’t take long at all

6) Then chop up some firm tofu into bite size pieces

7) Place the tofu into a mixing bowl and add in the oil and cornflour (this is known as cornflour for UK readers and corn starch for US readers). Gently mix everything together to coat the tofu evenly

8) Air fry or bake the tofu until golden and crispy

9) Whilst the tofu is air frying, sauté the chilli paste mixture in oil over a medium low heat for a couple of minutes. This will cook out the rawness of the aromatics

10) Turn the heat down to low and add in the coconut milk

11) Also add in the soy sauce, sugar, and lime zest

12) Next mix everything together. And then simmer for a few minutes

13) Then add in all of the tofu

14) Along with more red chillies, Thai basil, and lime juice

Frequently asked questions

Can this Creamy Coconut Lime Tofu be made in advance? How long can it be kept?

Yes it can indeed, and it can be kept for 3-4 days refrigerated in an airtight container.

Can the tofu be substituted for anything else?

You can substitute the tofu with any other protein of choice. You could also use paneer if you wanted to, or perhaps even just a medley of frozen vegetables. Anything works!

If you enjoyed this recipe

Please do let me know! Leave a review and a rating below, I’d love to know how you got on.

You can also tag me on Instagram at @dish_by_rish. Or follow me on FacebookPinterestYoutube, and TikTok to keep up with all my cooking and baking creations.

Until then, happy cooking!

creamy coconut lime tofu

Creamy Coconut Lime Tofu

Yield: Serves 3
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This Creamy Coconut Lime Tofu makes for a great vegan dinner. This creamy, sour, and spicy tofu tastes great over steamed rice or noodles.


  • 8 dried chillies
  • 3 dried shiitake mushrooms* (see notes)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1" piece of ginger
  • 2 shallots
  • 500g firm tofu
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 2tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1/2tbsp palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 1/2 lime
  • 2 fresh red chillies, sliced
  • Handful of Thai basil, coriander can also be used
  • 3tbsp neutral flavoured oil, e.g. sunflower/rapeseed/vegetable
  • 1tbsp cornflour (this is cornflour for UK readers and corn starch for US readers)
  • 1/2tsp salt


  1. First start by deseeding the dried chillies, this will be very easy to do and can be done by hand
  2. Then place the dried chillies and dried mushrooms into a heat resistant bowl. Pour over boiling water to submerge, then cover the bowl and allow to sit for 15 minutes
  3. After soaking, transfer the chillies and mushrooms to a food processor or blender. Along with the shallots, garlic, and ginger. Add 3-4 tablespoons of the soaking water from the mushrooms and chillies to help the food processor/blender process the aromatics
  4. Blitz the mixture to form a chilli paste, this won't take long at all
  5. Then chop up the firm tofu into bite sized pieces and place into a mixing bowl along with 1tbsp of the oil, the salt, and the cornflour (this is cornflour for UK readers, corn starch for US readers)
  6. Gently mix everything together until the tofu is evenly coated, and air fry at 185'C/365'F for 15 minutes, flipping them over half way. They should be crispy and golden all over
  7. Whilst the tofu is air frying, place the remaining 2tbsp of oil into a pan and place over a medium-low heat. Sauté the chilli paste for 2-3 minutes to cook out the rawness from the aromatics
  8. Then turn the heat down to low and add in the coconut milk. Fill up the empty coconut milk tin half way with water and swish around (no coconut milk waste!) and pour this into the pan as well
  9. Also add in the soy sauce, sugar, and lime zest from half of the lime. Simmer everything on a low heat for around 2-3 minutes
  10. Add all of the tofu to the coconut sauce along with the sliced fresh red chillies, the Thai basil/coriander, and a squeeze of lime juice from half of the lime. Simmer for just a minute or so to heat through
  11. Serve over steamed rice or any noodles of choice


You can use fresh chillies in lieu of dried, but it won't provide as much colour. Fresh chillies also tend to be more spicy

If you don't have dried mushrooms, you can substitute around 1tbsp of mushroom sauce/1tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce/1tsp mushroom stock powder/slightly more light soy sauce and sugar

Nutrition Information
Yield 3 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 665Total Fat 51gSaturated Fat 27gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 21gCholesterol 0mgSodium 1170mgCarbohydrates 39gFiber 8gSugar 16gProtein 26g

This is an automated calculation and hence may not be entirely accurate.

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