September 18, 2013

Black Pepper Tofu

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This peppery treat will help naysayers keep an open mind about tofu. The recipe is part of my campaign to rehabilitate tofu’s bland and boring image.

1 lb (500 g) block firm tofu, drained, patted dry
1 tbsp (15 mL) cornstarch
2 tbsp (30 mLeach: peanut oil, unsalted butter
2 shallots, diced
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp (5 mLeach: puréed ginger, chili flakes
2 tbsp (30 mL) each: soy sauce, ponzu, mirin
1 tbsp (15 mL) black peppercorns, crushed
2 large green onions (white and green parts), chopped

Cut tofu block into cubes about 1 x 1 x 1/2 inch (2.5 x 2.5 x 1 cm). Like so: Cut block in half horizontally through centre to make 2 rectangles, each about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Cut each rectangle lengthwise into 3 sticks, each about 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide. Cut each stick into about 1/2-inch (1 cm) segments.

In large bowl, gently toss tofu cubes with cornstarch.

Heat oil in 12-inch (30 cm) skillet on medium-high until shimmery. Add tofu and cook, turning occasionally with spatula, until golden and crisp in spots, about 5 minutes. Transfer to large plate.

Gently wipe oil from skillet with paper towel, leaving any golden-brown bits stuck to bottom. Add butter. Heat on medium-low until melted. Add shallots, garlic, ginger and chili flakes. Cook, stirring often, until browned and softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in soy sauce, ponzu and mirin, scraping bottom of pan. Stir in pepper. Add tofu. Toss with spatula to coat well. Heat through 1 minute.

Serve garnished with green onions.

  • Cutting instructions are for a standard block of tofu.
  • I use a kitchen rasp to purée the ginger.
  • Ponzu is a citrusy soy sauce. Mirin is Japanese cooking wine. Both are sold in Asian shops and some supermarkets.
  • I used a mortar and pestle to grind the peppercorns into a medium powder. If you don’t have one, try a spice grinder.

Makes 4 servings.

Credit: Susan Sampson
Tested in Imperial