Sunday, June 26, 2011

Black Pepper Tofu

Sadly, my local Borders is closing, but it does mean I was able to pick up a number of great cookbooks for a steal. One of these was Yotam Ottolenghi's book, Plenty. Yotam is most well known for his columns in the UK newspaper the Guardian, as well as number of restaurants/cafes in London. Plenty is the culmination of these columns into a book, with a few other recipes thrown in for good measure. The recipes in the Guardian are primarily vegetarian, although Yotam is famously not vegetarian himself. Mr Alphie and I aren't vegetarian either, but are always looking for great meat-free options, for ourselves and the vegetarians we often cook for.

This recipe jumped out at me in my first flick through the book, and again last night when I was looking for dinner inspiration. Luckily, Mr Alphie is not one to shy away from tofu, and after my stay with SIL & Mr SIL, I have developed quite a soft spot for it.

Mr Alphie and I both loved this, and Mr Alphie was pushing to have it again soon- like, before he heads back north again (in 2 days time!).

Notes: I made a half recipe, as I don't think it would re-heat well. Also, I only used one chilli, we only had the hot Thai ones (definitely not mild, as suggested), and that combined with the pepper was a fairly hot dish (but not 'blow your head off'), so make your own judgements on the chilli & pepper quantities - keeping in mind that there is supposed to be a lot of pepper, hence 'black pepper tofu'. 

Mr Alphie rates it: 9.5/10 - a true gem!
Black Pepper Tofu
Serves 4
  • 800g firm, fresh tofu
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • cornflour to dust the tofu
  • 150g butter
  • 12 small shallots (350g), peeled and thinly sliced
  • 8 red chillies, thinly sliced
  • 12 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
  • 5 tbsp crushed black peppercorns
  • 3 tbsp sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 4 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 16 small, thin spring onions, cut into 3cm segments

Start with the tofu. Pour enough oil  into a large frying pan or wok to come 5mm up the sides and heat. Cut the tofu into large cubes, about 3cm x 2cm.

Unless, like me, you are wearing your comfy around-the-house trackies, I suggest you wear an apron while coating the tofu - I managed to get cornflour everywhere...

Toss them in some cornflour and shake off the excess, then add to the hot oil. (You'll need to fry the tofu in batches).

Fry, turning them around as you go, until they are golden and have a thin crust. As they are cooked, transfer to paper towel to drain.

Remove the oil and any sediment from the pan, then add in the butter. Once it has melted, add the shallots, chillies, garlic and ginger, and sauté on low to medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the contents of the pan are shiny and totally soft.

Next add the soy sauces and sugar and stir, then add the crushed black pepper.

Add the tofu to warm in the sauce for about a minute, then add the spring onion and stir through. Serve hot with steamed rice. (We also had steamed Asian greens.)



  1. Yum! I'm always on the lookout for good tofu recipes so will add this to my fav's

  2. Excellent, email thing worked! (and a great post thanks - have FB's and Tweeted....)