I hardly ever cook with tofu. A lot of people are surprised when they hear that and usually the first question they as is: how do you get your protein? I’m always fairly confused about this. I don’t really think too consciously about including protein in my diet. I kind of just assume if I eat healthily and diversify my diet that I should be fine. Regardless, I have nothing against tofu, I just always go back to our standard stir fry with spicy peanut sauce or miso soup when I buy it, which isn’t overly inspiring.
I have been waiting to try this recipe from Ottolenghi’s book Plenty for a long time. The picture of his finished dish just looks so appetizing I always end up bookmarking it. I didn’t make it though (until now) for a number of reasons. First, he calls for so much oil and butter in his recipe that I was completely turned off from actually making it. I never want to attempt to ‘deep fry’ or even shallow fry anything at home. Also, as always, he calls for three different kinds of soy sauce in the recipe, which always makes me turned off from trying a recipe. Somehow, it makes me feel like he wouldn’t use three kinds of soy sauce if it wasn’t really important to the final product, so I am always discouraged from tweaking that sort of thing; especially when the finished product looks so delicious.
Anyway, I did end up changing up the recipe and it turned out great. Advanced warning, this is called black pepper tofu for a reason. It is not only on the spicy side but it is also very peppery. If peppery food isn’t something you’re into, you may want to stay away from this recipe. It is definitely the predominant flavor. You can also just decrease the amount of pepper a bit.
Adapted from Ottolenghi's recipe in Plenty
This recipe is very peppery, you can decrease the amount of pepper a bit but it is kind of the point of the dish! If you don't like the taste of black pepper, I would stay away from this.
Since the sauce is so peppery (and also balanced in terms of saltines with the soy sauce), I didn't season anything along the way.
While it's good to freshly pound your black pepper (in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder) make sure there aren't big chunks left since it isn't too pleasant to chew on a chunk of peppercorn.
Also, this amount of sauce covers the tofu and vegetables quite lightly. If you like more sauciness, consider making a little extra.
Toss your tofu in the cornstarch and dust off any excess. This will give your tofu a really crunchy, defined layer when you fry it in the oil. If you prefer to pan fry your tofu without anything coating it (as I normally do), you can easily go ahead with your preferred method!
In a medium sized pan over medium-high heat, add your canola oil and fry tofu until all of the sides are golden brown.
Remove tofu from pan and place on paper towels.
Using the leftover oil, saute your vegetables until they are cooked.
Remove vegatables from pan and set aside.
In the same pan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter on low heat and saute your onion, garlic, chili and ginger on low-medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. By the end everything in the pan will be fragrant and golden brown (but not burnt!).
In a small bowl combine soy sauce, tamari, sugar, and crushed peppercorns.
Once the sugar is dissolved, pour into the pan with your onion, garlic and ginger and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Toss tofu and vegetables in the sauce and heat everything up for 1-2 minutes.
Serve over rice and garnish with some chives or green onion.
Black Pepper Tofu Recipe was last modified: September 11, 2013 by