vegan tofu fish on a rectangle plate on a black tray

Learn how to make vegan fish fillets with tofu, seaweed and rice paper! With perfectly crispy skin and a flake-y soft fish like texture this is the perfect plant based fish alternative for any dish!

vegan tofu fish on a blue plate on a black tray with miso soup and rice bowl behind it

Seafood, specifically fish was probably the most difficult food to give up when I first adopted a vegan lifestyle because it is such a staple food in Japanese culture. I’ve been wanting to recreate an easy, basic and versatile tofu fish fillet alternative for some time now and finally came up with a recipe that I’m super excited to share today! This fish fillet isn’t only visually fish-like, but also has that crispy skin I really wanted to achieve since my favourite part about cooked fish was always the crispy skin.

Using a few easy tehqniues, I’ve come up with my version of a fish fillet thats made with staple ingredients! First, let’s talk texture. For that ‘flakey’ like texture and appearance I borrowed Sam’s (itdoesnttastelikechicken) tofu fillets techqniue of slicing it across the tofu. I combined it with my Jabara Cucumber cutting techqniue and added an extra step where we flip it and slice diagonally in the SAME direction for extra flakiness.

The crispy skin idea came from my rice paper dumplings that you guys have been loving! The rice papers get super crispy when pan fried in a little oil and it does a wonderful job at sticking to the nori and tofu with a little bit of starch slurry.

Okay, now does it have the texture of real fish? Obviously… no. It has the texture of extra firm tofu (or firm tofu), but with the flaky-texture, crispy skin and flavour of seafood it’s a

Ingredients (& Substitutions)

  • Extra firm tofu: Extra firm tofu works best here to ensure the fillets stay intact. However, you can also use firm tofu for a softer texture, just be extra gentle when slicing and cooking. Pressing the tofu will help absorb more of the marinades flavour so don’t skip it!
  • Dashi broth: you can use homemade kombu dashi broth or mix 1 packet of kombu dashi granules with 1 cup of water.
  • Ajinomoto: gives a stronger umami-fish like flavour. Mushroom stock powder can be used as a substitute. 
  • Rice vinegar: for flavour and to remove more of the tofu flavour.
  • Sugar: for flavour 
  • Nori: for the skin and also gives it an extra boost of that fish and seafood like flavour.
  • Potato starch: used to ensure the rice paper sticks and to make the non-skin side some texture. You can substitute with corn starch if needed.
  • Rice paper: for the crispy skin! If you don’t have rice paper, you can still achieve a crispy skin by coating it with potato starch instead. This creates more of a flakey-fried texture (like tempura), but still very delicious.

How to Make Vegan Tofu Fish Fillets

  1. Prepare tofu: Remove tofu from the package and then press to remove excess moisture out. Slice the tofu into desired shapes and pieces. To get a fish-like shape, slice the block 3/4 length wise and then using the tip of the knife, carve out a fillet shape. Keep the other 1/4 for extra. If making a fish shape, you’ll have a total of two pieces. Then slice through the entire block once you have achieved your desired shape. If you do not care for the fish-like shape, slice into 4 rectangles. Slice the tofu diagonally 1/3 way through 1/8-1/4 inch apart. Flip and slice diagonally in the SAME direction.
  2. Make the marinade: Add the kombu dashi broth, msg, rice vinegar and sugar to a shallow container and mix. Add the pieces tofu fillets and then tear one sheet or nori on top. Cover and marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Make the crispy skin: Remove the tofu from the container and pat dry. Cut a piece of nori that fits on top of the tofu fillets. Cut the same size piece of rice paper. Place the nori on top of the tofu. Mix potato starch with 3-4 tbsp of water. Briefly dip the piece of rice paper and place on top of the nori and press down to ensure it sticks. 
  4. Cook: Heat a pan with oil over medium high heat. Place the tofu fillet rice paper side down. Use a spatula and press gently down a few times and cook for 1 minute or until golden brown and crispy. Dust a little bit of potato starch on the side facing up and then flip. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until brown and crispy. Pan fry the other two sides (you can dust more potato starch on the other sides if you prefer). Remove from pan. 
  5. Serve: If adding sauce, be sure to add it on the plate (or on the side for dipping) and then the tofu fish on top to keep the ‘skin’ crispy. Serve and enjoy!
vegan mock tofu fish with nori and rice paper on top

What I love about this vegan fish recipe is how versatile and customizable it is. Once you create the fillets, you can season and sauce them up with whatever you like! You can also make a salmon version just by adding in a touch of beetroot or carrot juice for that colour. I paired mine with soy butter but I also love marinating it in a miso sauce and broiling it in the oven. You can also grill these up and give it a torch for extra flavour!

close up shot of vegan fish holding it with chopsticks

More vegan seafood recipes:

SAVE IT FOR LATER! ↓

If you recreate this Vegan Tofu Fish recipe let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment and rating below or by tagging me on Instagram @Okonomikitchen, I love seeing all of your tasty recreations!
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vegan tofu fish on a blue plate on a black tray with miso soup and rice bowl behind it

Vegan Tofu Fish


  • Author: Lisa Kitahara
  • Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x

Description

Learn how to make vegan fish fillets with tofu, seaweed and rice paper! With perfectly crispy skin and a flake-y soft fish like texture this is the perfect plant based fish alternative for any dish!


Ingredients

Scale

Soy Butter Sauce

  • 1 tbsp vegan butter (15g)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (30ml)

Instructions

  1. Prepare tofu: Remove tofu from the package and then press to remove excess moisture out. Slice the tofu into desired shapes and pieces. To get a fish-like shape, slice the block 3/4 length wise and then using the tip of the knife, carve out a fillet shape. Keep the other 1/4 for extra. If making a fish shape, you’ll have a total of two pieces. Then slice through the entire block once you have achieved your desired shape. If you do not care for the fish-like shape, slice into 4 rectangles. Slice the tofu diagonally 1/3 way through 1/8-1/4 inch apart. Flip and slice diagonally in the SAME direction. Add salt to both sides of the fish and set aside. 
  2. Make the marinade: Add the kombu dashi broth, msg, rice vinegar and sugar to a shallow container and mix. Add the pieces tofu fillets and then tear one sheet or nori on top. Cover and marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Make the crispy skin: Remove the tofu from the container and pat dry. Sprinkle salt over both sides of the tofu fillet. Cut a piece of nori that fits on top of the tofu fillets. Cut the same size piece of rice paper. Place the nori on top of the tofu. Mix potato starch with 3 tbsp of water. Briefly dip the piece of rice paper and place on top of the nori and press down to ensure it sticks. 
  4. Cook: Heat a pan with oil over medium high heat. Place the tofu fillet rice paper side down. Use a spatula and press gently down a few times and cook for 1 minute or until golden brown and crispy. Dust a little bit of potato starch on the side facing up and then flip. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until brown and crispy. Pan fry the other two sides (you can dust more potato starch on the other sides if you prefer). Remove from pan. 
  5. Serve: If adding sauce, be sure to add it on the plate (or on the side for dipping) and then the tofu fish on top to keep the ‘skin’ crispy. Serve and enjoy!

Soy Butter Sauce

  1. Heat vegan butter over low heat. Add the soy sauce and mix to combine. Remove from heat and serve. 

Notes

  • *Or use 1 packet of kombu dashi granules mixed with 1 cup of water
  • Helpful Equipment: tofu press, scissors
  • Nutritional Information Disclaimer: Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated on an online tool (Cronometer). 
  • Prep Time: 3 hours
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: entree
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: vegan, japanese

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 serving

Keywords: vegan fish, tofu fish, fish fillet

Okonomi Kitchen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. When you purchase something through my amazon affiliate links, I earn a small commission that helps me produce consistent content at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting my plant based kitchen! 

Konnichiwa

About Lisa

I'm Lisa, a home cook, recipe developer and founder of Okonomi Kitchen. Here, you'll find a mix of classic and modernized Japanese recipes, and creative, plant-forward meal inspiration using seasonal ingredients. I hope to share more about Japanese cuisine and culture through food and recipes.


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51 Comments

  1. This recipes is so simple and delicious and really really satisfying without being too heavy. So good, will definitely make again!

  2. Finally got to try this recipe and I love how it came out! The slicing method is absolute genius and omg that seaweed skin is so good whut😭

    This was the most proper meal I’ve made for myself. The whole process was actually really fun because I was excited to see how it would turn out.. definitely did not disappoint. Will cut the tofu into more of a fillet shape next time!

    Looking forward to trying out more of your recipes. Your content is so inspiring and really empowering. Thank you for sharing it with us 🤍🙏🏼

  3. I absolutely loved this recipe! It has become a staple in my kitchen, I use the fish marinade for so many things now. I actually used a no fish broth by oceans halo instead of the kombu dashi broth and it turned out delicious!

    Thank you Lisa for all your amazing recipes!

  4. I made this recipe for the first time. I can’t believe that tofu can look and taste like fish!
    I dressed this “fish” with pickled ginger and a little squeeze of lemon and splash of shoyu. Amazing!
    This recipe is a definite must try!
    It’s in my permanent rotation!
    Thank you for the awesome recipe!

  5. Really easy to make it. The result is a bomb👊🏼
    Texture, flavour, all amazing😁
    Thanks for your recipes

  6. Hey I made this yesterday and WOW it was delisious what a lovely recipe
    We loved it Thanks this was yummi and we have a sauce with wasabi& soja .

    Bye from the Netherlands

    Daisy

  7. I saw this recipe via VegNews and had to try it!
    It was so much fun to make and delicious! I can’t wait to make it again!