This truly scrumptious Vegan Tomato ‘Meat’ Sauce goes well with rice, noodles, or served as a base for stir-fry dishes. So, be sure you make a large batch of it for later use. Check out below on how to cook the tofu so that it locks in the flavor.
Are you a tomato fan? I am so lucky that my husband loves gardening. This year we were blessed with many amazing Celebrity tomatoes. We got around to growing these big, juicy tomatoes through a nursery’s recommendation of tomatoes to grow in Texas. Our tomatoes are thriving this year and bear many fruits. So, it’s a good time to turn them into one of my favorite sauces – Asian style tomato ‘meat’ sauce. I learned this recipe from my Venerable when I volunteered for a camp at my temple.
This recipe is as simple as cooking down the blended tomatoes with either TVP (textured vegetable protein) or tofu, seasoning with soy sauce, a little sugar, and toasted sesame oil. Because tomatoes have a touch of sweetness with a slight tang, this is an appetizing sauce that goes well with rice, noodles, or as a base for stir-fries. It also resembles the popular Bolognese sauce for pasta. So, make them in big batches and save some for later use.
How to make Vegan Tomato ‘Meat’ Sauce
Tomatoes come in different varieties, each with its own unique sweetness, so adjust the taste accordingly, that is less sugar and more salt or vice versa.
Step 1: In a high-speed blender, blend cut up tomatoes into a puréed sauce. It’s best to use fresh tomatoes in this recipe.
Step 2: Heat a non-stick pan and mash tofu into crumbles. Stir to remove the tofu’s moisture or until they dry up a bit. Then, add in the oil and continue to cook the tofu until golden brown. Season accordingly. This is my favorite step to prepare tofu especially when I need to cook them in sauce later.
Step 3. Pour in the blended tomatoes, give the mixture a quick stir, and then reduce the heat to cook down the sauce. Now, you have your homemade tomato vegan ‘meat’ sauce. Transfer the mixture into a bowl or jar and save for later use.
Step 4. Blanch vegetables of choice and set aside. Cook noodles as directed on package’s instruction.
Step 5: Serve noodles and blanched vegetables with the freshly made tomato vegan ‘meat’ sauce and a drizzle of homemade chili oil.
Cooking Tips and Variations
- Fresh tomatoes – Since I have lots of homegrown tomatoes, I used fresh ones for this recipe, plus, fresh tomatoes are less acidic. Alternatively, you can use canned whole tomatoes and adjust the acidity accordingly.
- Why do I cook my tofu this way? – This is one of my favorite methods to prepare the tofu. This step ensures that the tofu will lock its moisture and absorb the sauce. First, I mash the tofu into crumbles in a non-stick pan and cook until it turns a nice brown. Then, add in the oil, increase the heat a little, and continue to sauté until you see a nice golden brown layer on the outside. Here you can see that some tiny bits of tofu are starting to sizzle on the pan, which demonstrates that the tofu is dry enough.
- Make a big batch and store it – This sauce stays fresh for a couple of days in the fridge (freeze for longer shelf life). To store the sauce, transfer the cooked sauce into a jar, let it cool down completely, and seal with a lid. Alternatively, store into smaller jars by portions so it will be easier to use. This sauce is perfect as a base for stir-fries or served with rice or noodles.
- Tofu alternatives – I was first introduced to this dish using TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) or soy mince which has a more ‘meaty’ texture when used. There are variety of TVP shapes, and the best shape for this recipe is the crumbles. Soak TVP crumbles in water until they puff up, then drain and squeeze out as much water as possible. Pan-fry them on a non-stick pan over low heat until dry before adding the seasoning and tomato sauce.
- Gluten-free – replace soy sauce with gluten-free sauces of choice.
This Vegan Tomato ‘Meat’ Sauce is
- Easy and simple to make
- Flavorful – thanks to the fresh tomatoes purée
- Delicious as-is or serve with rice, noodles or stir-fries
- Great for meal-prep and make-ahead meals
- Easily customizable
- Scrumptious and TASTY!
If you try this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback and see your beautiful re-creation. Leave me a comment, rate it, and tag @woon.heng and #woonheng to your photos on Instagram or Facebook. Happy cooking, friends!
Vegan Tomato ‘Meat’ Sauce
Tomato 'Meat' Sauce
- 14 oz [397g] firm tofu pressed
- 3 cups tomato purée from 6-8 fresh large tomatoes used homegrown
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 2½ tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1½ teaspoons sugar adjust accordingly
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- 2 servings of noodles cooked as directed
- 1 cup long beans or vegetable of choice
- chili oil and toasted sesame oil
- To make the tomato purée, blend fresh tomatoes in a high speed blender and set aside.
- Place tofu in a heated non-stick pan and mash into crumbles using a masher.
- Cook tofu over low heat until slightly dry. Then, swirl in the oil and continue to cook tofu until they turn golden brown.
- Season with soy sauce, sugar, salt and toasted sesame oil. Add the tomato purée in and give it a quick stir. Taste test and season if needed.
- Reduce the heat and cook down the sauce, about 5 – 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with noodles or store in a jar for later use.
- To make the noodle bowl, blanch veggies of choice in hot water until fully cooked through. Adjust blanching time accordingly depending on the types of greens you have. Then, cook the noodles as directed on package.
- Transfer noodles to a serving bowl, top with blanched veggies and the homemade tomato ‘meat’ sauce. Serve warm with a drizzle of chili oil or toasted sesame oil.