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Black Pepper Tofu

October 14, 2010

I leave you this weekend with a rich, but amazingly good, black pepper tofu dish. When I first saw this on Lottie + Doof,

black pepper tofu

I was in love.  The pictures of it were amazing looking and with all the kinds of soy sauce, I knew it would have a nice thick sauce, slight sweetness and lots of spice. The reciepe comes from Ottolenghi, but I made some cuts to back off on the richness.  It had a LOT of butter in it, and I found I could get by with less, and same with the oil.

This dish takes a little prep, because getting the tofu to crisp up well takes longer than you’d expect.  I’d recommend using two non-stick pans to cook the batches at the same time to speed things up.  You can also cut back on the peppercorns.  I know they’re the purpose of the dish, and I like things spicy, but 4 tablespoons is a lot of peppercorns…you could cut it by 1 tablespoon, easily, or even start with half and work your way up.  This has to be one of the best dishes I made this year and I served it with steamed jasmine rice and sauteed asparagus.  I hope you try it!  Serves 4 generously.


800g extra firm tofu, drained well

Corn starch to dust the tofu

4T vegetable oil

2-3 T butter

12 small shallots (350g), peeled and thinly sliced

4 red chillies, thinly sliced

12 garlic cloves, crushed

3 T chopped ginger

4 T crushed black peppercorns (or less, and I used 1 T  Szechwan peppercorns)

3 T sweet soy sauce

3 T light soy sauce

4 t dark soy sauce

2 T  sugar (I forgot this and skipped it…it was plenty sweet enough!)

16 small, thin spring onions, cut into segments 3cm long

jasmine rice for serving


Cut the tofu into 3/4″ blocks and toss them in corn starch, shaking off the excess (the tofu will soak up a lot of corn starch, so just add enough that you feel it’s nicely coated…it will make the crunchy crust.  Pour 1-2 T oil in each of two large non-stick frying pans, and bring up to frying heat (I put mine over medium high).  Place half of the tofu in each pan (or less, if it’s too crowded) and fry the tofu, turning the pieces so they are golden and have a thin crust on all sides.  When ready, transfer to a paper towel to drain and repeat with remaining tofu until all is fried.

Remove the oil and any sediment from the pan (if you used 2 pans, just use one now) and melt the butter over medium heat.  When melted, add the shallots, chillies, garlic and ginger, and sauté for about 15 minutes on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the contents of the pan are shiny and totally soft (don’t rush this step, because crunch ginger isn’t pleasant in a sauce).  Meanwhile, crush the peppercorns using a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder. They should be quite coarse.

When the shallots and chillies are soft, add the soy sauces and the sugar (I omitted this), stir, then stir in the crushed pepper. Warm the tofu in the sauce for about a minute, making sure it’s hot and about as thick as maple syrup), then add the spring onion and stir through.  Serve hot with steamed rice.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Haley permalink
    October 14, 2010 3:31 pm

    I remember you told me about this, and I’m so glad you posted it! It looks ridiculously yummy, and I want to try it right away!!

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