Looking for a protein-packed, quick, and low-fat meal? These Vietnamese Sticky Tofu & Mushroom Meatballs are a delicious Asian flavoured twist on a classic. Made using wood ear mushrooms, they have a lightly chewy texture that replicates meat very convincingly! As a bonus, they’re quick and easy to make for dinner, and reheat well as leftovers.
I first came across this recipe when I met fellow Instagram content creator and Vietnamese recipe developer, Veggie Anh. She really inspired me to try some new flavours and explore Vietnamese cooking at home. Make sure to check out her blog for more inspo 🙂
Why You’ll Love These Meatballs
- Protein-Packed: Made from extra firm tofu, these meatballs are an effective source of plant-based protein. Each serve has 25g of protein to keep you feeling full!
- Sweet and Sour Flavors: these are NOT your classic meatballs, but I mean that in a good way! They have so much flavour using Asian ingredients. The glaze made from Sriracha, garlic, soy sauce and rice wine vinegar adds a sweet and sour zing to the more subtle flavour of wood ear mushrooms and tofu.
- Low-Fat Option: This recipe is entirely oil free, so an ideal choice if you’re monitoring your fat or calorie intake – only 350 calories per serve (excluding rice) and 25g of protein.
- Perfect Meat-Like Texture: The lightly chewy texture of the wood ear mushrooms brings a meaty element to these vegan meatballs, so satisfying!
- Tofu: Extra firm tofu forms the base of these meatballs. I love tofu as it’s an affordable, versatile plant based protein. Make sure to use extra firm tofu for this recipe. You might be able to get away with firm tofu, but be sure to squeeze out any excess water before mixing the meatballs.
- Wood Ear Mushrooms (Black Fungus): If you haven’t heard of these before, you’re in for some fun! Wood ear mushrooms (also known as black fungus) are sold dry in Asian grocers or in the international aisle of supermarkets. Don’t be fooled by how small the quantity looks in this recipe – they almost triple in size when rehydrated. They have a mild umami flavour and chewy texture. They look a bit like seaweed when rehydrated – but don’t be put off by their appearance, mince them finely and they will add a delicious lightly chewy texture to the meatballs which replicates the fattyness of meat.
- Cornstarch: an essential ingredient, cornstarch acts as a binder, ensuring the meatballs hold their shape.
- Soy Sauce: Infusing rich umami flavor and the perfect amount of salt.
- Rice Vinegar: The sweet and sour glaze owes its tangy essence to rice vinegar.
There’s a detailed list with quantities in the recipe card at the bottom of this post, but here is a shopping list for your convenience:
How to Make Tofu Meatballs
There’s a detailed recipe card at the bottom of this post, but here’s a quick overview of how to make the meatballs (with pictures) 🙂
Rehydrate the wood ear mushrooms by soaking them in boiling water.
Crumble the tofu, mince the rehydrated mushrooms, shallot and garlic.
Combine all meatball ingredients and shape them into balls.
Combine all glaze ingredients and simmer until thickened slightly.
Bake the meatballs then coat in sweet and sour glaze.
Serve over rice and garnish with coriander.
- For a gluten-free option, use tamari instead of soy sauce.
- If wood ear mushrooms are unavailable, shiitake mushrooms can be used for a different texture.
- Customize the recipe by adding vegetables like finely grated carrots, zucchini, or bell peppers to the meatball mixture instead of mushrooms. Or try different spices such as ginger, lemongrass, or Chinese five-spice for added flavor.
Store any leftover tofu meatballs and glaze in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can freeze them too for up to 3 months, but the texture of the tofu will become slightly more spongey. You can reheat the meatballs in the microwave, in 1-2 minute bursts on high until they’ve reached desired temperature. If you don’t have a microwave, you can reheat the leftovers in a preheated oven at 180°C (350°F) for about 10 minutes if chilled or 20 minutes if frozen, or until they are heated through.
Yes, you can pan-fry the tofu meatballs for a different cooking method. Heat a bit of oil in a non-stick skillet and cook the meatballs over medium heat, turning them occasionally until they are golden and heated through.
Sometimes depending on the water content of the tofu, you might need to add some extra cornstarch if you find your meatballs are falling apart. Keep in mind they are quite light and not as dense as regular meat based meatballs, so handle them delicately and brush or stir carefully when coating in the sticky glaze.
I find the fastest way to reheat leftovers is in the microwave, heat them in 1-2 minute bursts on high until they’ve reached desired temperature. If you don’t have a microwave, you can reheat the leftovers in a preheated oven at 180°C (350°F) for about 10 minutes or until they are heated through.
Yes you can! Spray the basket with a little oil to avoid sticking, then place the meatballs in a single layer. Cook at 200°C (400°F) for about 12-15 minutes until golden, then follow the remainder of the recipe.
Additional Serving Suggestions
- Noodle Bowl: Serve the tofu meatballs over a bed of rice noodles with stir-fried vegetables and a drizzle of the sweet and sour glaze for a flavorful noodle bowl. This recipe for Bun Cha from Recipe Tin Eats is not vegan but will give you an idea of what I mean!
- Taco Filling: Stuff the meatballs into soft tortillas or taco shells, add shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and a dollop of vegan mayo for a delicious and unique taco filling.
- Stir-Fry: Incorporate the meatballs into a vibrant vegetable stir-fry, toss them with your favorite stir-fry sauce, and serve over steamed jasmine rice.
I hope you love this recipe from Veggie Anh! Let me know how you serve them or any substitutions you’ve tried in the comments below. If you liked this recipe, check out some of my other mock meat dishes like seitan roast, chickpea meatballs, or tofu bacon.
Vietnamese Sticky Tofu Mushroom Meatballs
- 450 g extra firm tofu
- 25 g dried wood ear mushroom
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 shallot sub with 1/2 brown onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tbsp sriracha
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 6 tbsp cornstarch
Sweet & Sour Glaze
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 4 tbsp ketchup
- 4 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 clove garlic minced
- 1/3 cup water
- cooked white rice
- fresh coriander leaves
- Rehydrate the wood ear mushroom by covering in boiling water in a large bowl. Leave for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, crumble the tofu. Finely mince the shallot and garlic. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
- In a mixing bowl, add the crumbled tofu, minced garlic and shallot, soy sauce, ketchup, sriracha, and black pepper. After the mushroom is hydrated, drain the water and cut it into small pieces. Add the mushroom and cornstarch into the mixing bowl. Mix well to combine.
- Shape the mixture into tofu meatballs, approx 16-18. Place onto a lined baking tray and bake for 20 minutes until lightly golden.
Sweet & Sour Glaze
- Add all glaze ingredients to a medium saucepan on medium heat. Simmer for 5-7 minutes or until thickened slightly, whisking to avoid burning.
- Once the meatballs are done, add them to the pot of glaze and very gently stir until coated.
- Serve meatballs over white rice and garnish with coriander.