Vegan black pepper tofu

Vegan black pepper tofu

vegan black pepper tofu

Tofu is one of those ingredients that has the ability to truly divide the crowd. I must admit that long before I went vegan, I tried several tofu dishes that left me seriously underwhelmed.

Now, I’ve changed camps completely and I am a huge tofu fan. The trick lies in the correct cooking method…

For me the tastiest way is marinating well pressed tofu in a little soy sauce, sprinkling it with cornflour (or cornstarch in the US) and frying it in a little oil until golden and beautifully crispy on the outside (yet nicely chewy on the inside). Seriously, whenever I make tofu that way, I must keep one eye on my wok and the other on Duncan, who suddenly appears by my side with his greedy little mitts ready to delve into my freshly fried tofu stack.

This recipe treats lovely chewy tofu pieces (you can bake them too for this recipe, see below) to a bath of deliciously aromatic black pepper sauce. Add as much pepper as you can handle, bearing in mind that chilli will also add another kick dimension. I went for just over a teaspoon and found it perfectly balanced.

fried crispy tofu

vegan black pepper tofu in a wok

vegan black pepper tofu being made

vegan black pepper tofu closeup

vegan black pepper tofu with rice

vegan black pepper tofu portion top down

serves
4
PREP
15 min
COOKING
30 min
serves
4
PREPARATION
15 min
COOKING
30 min
INGREDIENTS
  • 400 g firm tofu, pressed*
  • 2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • cornflour / cornstarch
  • 3-4 tbsp high smoke oil (or l-2 tbsp if you bake your tofu)

BLACK PEPPER SAUCE

  • 5 tbsp / 75 ml tamari (for gluten-free version) or soy sauce
  • 5 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp / 30 ml maple syrup or dark brown sugar
  • 3 level tsp cornflour / cornstarch
  • 4 large garlic cloves, pressed or chopped very finely
  • 5 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 hot chilli pepper, sliced thinly or chilli flakes, to taste
  • 4 small spring onions, sliced thinly
  • 2-3 tsp freshly ground black pepper, adjust to taste
  • sesame seeds, to garnish (optional)
METHOD
  1. Cut pressed tofu into equal size squares. Pour 2 tbsp of tamari or soy sauce over the tofu and stir a few times so that it’s marinated evenly. Only quick marination is needed as tofu will be later coated in sauce.
  2. Dust tofu in thin layer of cornflour, shaking any excess flour off. Skip this step if you prefer to bake your tofu – see next step.
  3. Heat up 3 tbsp of oil in a wok or pan. Once the oil gets hot start frying tofu in 4 batches. Watch over it and turn frequently so that it does not burn. Once first batch is golden brown, remove it from the pan and place it an a piece of kitchen towel to drain the excess oil off. Continue with the remaining 3 batches. If you want to bake your tofu instead, heat up the oven to 180º C / 360º F and spread tofu pieces on a baking tray. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, flipping tofu once half way through baking.
  4. In a bowl, mix tamari (or soy sauce), rice wine vinegar and maple syrup with 6 tbsp (90 ml) of water. In a separate small bowl prepare cornflour slurry (mix 3 tsp of cornflour with 2 tbsp of water), which helps to thicken the sauce slightly.
  5. Once you finish frying the tofu, wipe the wok with a piece of kitchen towel (be careful as it will be hot) to get rid of any cornflour residue. Pour another tablespoon of oil and add sliced white parts of spring onions (save green bits as garnish) and sliced chilli. Fry gently on medium heat until they both soften, for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes add pressed garlic cloves and grated ginger and fry for a bit stirring constantly so that they don’t burn.
  6. Push the contents of the wok to the side (or set aside on a small plate) and pour in the sauce you prepared earlier and cornflour slurry (mix well before adding as cornflour will drop to the bottom). Mix the two together and let the sauce come to the boil gently. Let the sauce bubble gently for a minute or two so that it thickens a bit. Now incorporate softened spring onions, chilli, ginger and garlic mixture back into the sauce and add ground pepper to taste.
  7. Add fried or baked tofu to the sauce to warm it up gently. Serve over a bowl of steaming hot rice.

NOTES
*To press the tofu, you either need a special tofu press or you can do it with a bunch of kitchen towels and a heavy weight. Wrap your tofu in a paper towel, place it on a plate and weigh it down with something heavy (like a can of coconut milk, for example). Once the paper towel becomes wet, change it for a new one. Repeat a few times until the paper towel stays almost dry. Pressed tofu is tastier as it absorbs flavours better.

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NUTRITIONAL INFO
calories
262
13%
sugars
8 g
8%
fats
15 g
21%
saturates
2 g
11%
proteins
15 g
31%
carbs
18 g
7%
*per serving
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4.8
25 reviews, 45 comments
REVIEWS & QUESTIONS
grace:
This was so delicious! I didn't have any fresh chillis so instead went all out with three tsp of black pepper. I didn't find this amount at all overwhelming but then again I like spicy food. I chose to use baked tofu, the texture was really good and contrasted nicely with the stir-fried broccoli I included.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thank you, I am so happy that this one was a success too! And once again, I appreciate all the effort you are putting into writing the reviews - thank you. x Ania
Alexandra Barrett Kenin:
I made this with mock beef. My boyfriend said it was so good he thought it was from a restaurant! I had rice vinegar and mirin at the house ans wasnt sure which one to use so I went with the mirin and the sauce tasted great.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks Alexandra, I am delighted to hear that both you and your boyfriend enjoyed this dish. Rice vinegar is sour (if it's seasoned it's less sour usually) and mirin is sweet so they are quite different but the fact that you enjoyed the end result is what matters most. x Ania
Emma:
I have been making this recipe for about 3 years now and it's only just occurred to me to leave a comment! Sorry!
I love this meal, it's one of my favourites. It's so healthy and low calorie but SO tasty, to me it feels like I'm eating a takeaway. My fiancé loves it too, he's not as obsessed with tofu as I am but the way it's made in this recipe he can't get enough.
I also share it with all my friends who are wanting to try vegan recipes as it's simple enough but will show them how tasty tofu can be.
Thank you!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Aw, thank you so much, Emma! I'm delighted to hear that this recipe has served you so well over the years and thank you for your thoughtful comment - I really appreciate it and it helps my blog grow. And a massive thank you for spreading tofu love (there is enough tofu hate out there ;) ) x Ania
Ginger:
Doubled the sauce because I added some veggies. Super spicy!!! Not sure where I went wrong :(. The flavor was great but it was too spicy to eat.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Ginger,
    It is meant to be spicy so you may want to dial the pepper down a lot if you don't tolerate spicy food. Believe it or not, mine is already toned down a lot. Also doubling the sauce does mean that you are ingesting more spice! Ania
Chris:
LOVED THIS! Added shiitake mushrooms, some tender stem brocolli and it was amazing, so much better than a takeaway! Thank you, this up there with our favourite recipes now!
    Ania
    Ania:
    I'm delighted to hear that, Chris! And thanks so much for taking the time to let me know that you enjoyed it so much! x Ania
Diane Leonard:
Second time of making and it can’t be beaten.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks, Diane! I am very pleased to hear that! Ania
Kate H.:
I made this for dinner tonight and although I liked the way the tofu was crispy, it just seemed a little flat to us. For starters, the amount of rice wine vinegar seemed overpow
    Ania
    Ania:
    Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy it! Ania
Kate:
Have loved this for years and just found it again to make for my 18 month old. A favourite of mine. I stir fry some broccoli in Chinese five spice (straight from the dried spice jar) and feel crazy fancy.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Ha ha, that's awesome to hear! And both additions sound inspired! Ania
Amy carpenter:
Just made this for dinner for me and my boyfriend and we both it was amazing! Will definitely be making this again, thanks!
    Ania
    Ania:
    I'm delighted to hear that, thank you! Ania
Katie:
Hi! I'm really excited to make this recipe tonight! Would you recommend using dark or light soy sauce?
Thanks!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks, Katie! I'm glad you are planning to make it tonight, I hope you'll enjoy it! I used all purpose soy sauce or a mixture of dark and light. Hope that helps! Ania
Kirstin:
Love this recipe and cook it often - thanks! I always add aubergine to it which probes to be a tasty addition and makes it go a bit further.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks, Kirstin! Glad to hear that! Ania
Agnieszka:
I made this because it seems to be just like the tofu they serve in SHUK (Warsaw) and omg it is! The only thing that didnt work out is that it wasn't as crispy as it should be and I'm not sure where I went wrong because it seemed crispy after the initial frying. Either way it was delicious!
    Ania
    Ania:
    I'm delighted to hear that, Agnieszka :) Ania
Mirin:
I made this tonight. I baked the tofu. Really impressed, full of flavour. Served with broccoli. Will definitely make again. Thank you
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thank you! I'm delighted to hear that. Ania
Elle:
Where does the liquid smoke go?
Did I miss It?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Elle,
    I'm not sure what you are referring to here as there is no mention of liquid smoke in this recipe at all. Ania
Else:
This looks and sounds delicious!
I would like to bake instead of fry the tofu but I am confused when to add the l-2 tbsp of high smoke oil which is listed in the ingredients - "l-2 tbsp if you bake your tofu"
Would you please clarify? Apologies if it is obvious 😟
    Else:
    I am so sorry - I realised after posting that the oil is for the sauce and not the tofu (please insert embarrassed smiley).
    I am looking forward to making this very soon. Apologies again for being a numpty :-(
      Ania
      Ania:
      No worries at all, Else! Hope you'll enjoy it if decide to make it! Ania
Lindsay:
I think this recipe could be good but found the ginger flavour to be completely overwhelming. And i only added 3 tsp. If I make again I would probably reduce ginger to 1 tsp grated.
    Ania
    Ania:
    I personally feel that it's well balanced with ginger flavour coming through nicely, but if you are not a fan of ginger, of course, adjust it to your taste. Ania
Emma Hobb:
This is one of my favourite meals to cook, I love it!
I usually add peppers and I substitute rice vinegar for apple cider vinegar (just because I keep forgetting to buy it- it still tastes amazing).
Thank you for sharing your recipe
    Ania
    Ania:
    Aw, thanks so much, Emma! That's lovely to hear :) and thank you for taking the time to leave us such nice feedback! x Ania
Heather:
I'm still learning to eat healthy and this recipes sounds amazing but I'm worried about frying it in oil, how bad is it to do that? Does frying vs oven makes a difference in recipe flavor or taste ?
Thanks
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Heather,
    I understand where you are coming from as I'm also rather careful about the amount of oil I use. Frying tofu does give you a better taste and texture, but if you are worried about your fat intake, simply bake your tofu instead (at 180° C / 350° F for about 25 min, flipping it half way through). It won't matter that much for this recipe and you have a beautiful sauce that will give you bags of flavour. Hope that helps! Ania
Son:
This Black Pepper Tofu dish is delicious! We are 1 week in on this vegan thing and we may stick with it thanks to dishes like this! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
As a side note, I swapped out the rice for rice noodles and left off the sesame seeds. Additionally, I added a little veggie stock to the sauce to thin it out and provide a little more because we are saucy people. ;)
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks Son, I'm really glad to hear that you enjoyed it - and your mods sounds really on point too! Thanks for taking the time to leave a nice comment. Ania
'Tis I:
I just made this last night over some shirataki noodles, sauteed broccoli, sliced avocado, sliced cucumber, pickled ginger and wasabi......it's lit. Thanks for this, and also I had to add water to the sauce as well, but that's it. Thumbs up.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks, it's great to hear that you enjoyed this recipe! Ania
tay:
just made this a few days ago and it was delicious! super easy (i've never ever cooked tofu before either!), and i love when a recipe calls for regular ingredients i already have on hand. non-vegan boyfriend loved it also, so i'll definitely be adding this to my dinner rotation. thanks for sharing- it was awesome! ✘
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks, Tay! That's so nice to hear! :)
Katie:
Oh my gosh. I just made this, ate it with lightly stirfried broccoli, snowpeas, carrot and more sesame seeds (wish I'd had some bok choy or wombok!) - and this is so good that I couldn't actually believe it. It's amazing. It's completely, deliciously perfect. I had to add just a weee bit of water to the sauce mix (it thickened a little too fast for me!).
If anyone's thinking of trying this, do it. It blew my mind.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Aw, thanks so much, Katie! Your comment made my day! :) x
Colette Connors:
Hi ,
I have made Ottolenghi 's recipe for Blackpepper Tofu ,it is delicious but I used Food52 'S recipe version because it uses much less butter. Your recipe seems less labour intensive!
To have very firm tofu I freeze it first and then weigh it down with a cast iron frying pan, works really well.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Colette,
    Thanks for your thoughts. Hope you'll try my recipe! I've had lots of good feedback on it so I'm confident you'll like it too.
    Ania
Tracy:
I made this for dinner last night and it was amazing!! I am still drooling just thinking about it.
I added organic veggies from my garden and used leftover jasmine rice from another night. Really worked out perfectly and the flavor and texture of the tofu was just fabulous. Great recipe, thank you!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Aw, thanks so much, Tracy! I'm sooo pleased to hear that it was a hit! :)
healthyjon:
Ah this sounds so good! I am going to make this for my little sis she eats tofu all the time!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks Jon, that's so nice of you - hope your little sis will love it as much as we do! :)
Jenna:
Absolutely delicious!!! Have never cooked tofu that tasted so good thanks to your method and the sauce was also divine. Thank you!
Tess:
I have a question: would you recommend doubling the sauce ingredients if I wanted to add some vegetables to the tofu (broccoli, green beans, peppers, and zucchini), or do you think there's plenty without doubling it? Thank you so much and I look forward to trying the recipe :)
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Tess,
    Good question! I would double the sauce as it isn't one of these dishes that has loads of sauce. It's not dry by any means but if you are adding stuff make more sauce just in case - I doubt it will go to waste :) !
    Hope that helps,
    Ania
Thalia:
This recipe is so good! I don't usually eat tofu but this is gooooood! 😄😄
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks so much, Thalia. I'm really chuffed to hear that you like it so much! :)
OHMYGOSH this is so good!!!!! Thanks for the recipe I loooooove it!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks Jo! :) So nice to hear that! x
Christee:
Delicious recipe! Thank you! Big hit with everyone!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks so much, Christee! I'm so pleased to hear that :)
Natasha:
This is delicious! It's going to be a regular around here. I replaced half of the tofu with red pepper and zucchini.
    Ania
    Ania:
    That's so awesome to hear! :) Thank you!
Taylor:
I made this tonight with my Dad; we eat Black Pepper Chicken from our local Chinese Restaurant in our house all the time (I recently made the decision to transition to Vegetarian), and we all agree: THIS IS SO MUCH BETTER! We used ground ginger instead of grated, vegetable oil instead of peanut, soy sauce, brown sugar, and no sesame seeds. Will definitely be making this recipe again.
We also let the oil heat up a little too long, so the tofu cooked a bit too quick. It didn't burn, luckily- it was our first time cooking with tofu, so we made sure to keep a close eye on it.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks Taylor! That's awesome that you loved it so much! You lovely comment made my day! x
Wendy Gerster:
Tried my first recipe from your site - Vegan black pepper tofu - it was very yummy! I added some water since the `sauce` soon disappeared. Felt it needed something else to eat with it, so served it with an Asian kale salad and some leftover stir fried vegetables. Went down very well with the family! By the way, I think there was a mistake in the recipe - step 6 repeated what I`d already done in step 4. Thanks for your great ideas - I love looking at them!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Wendy,
    Thank your for your lovely feedback. I am pleased you liked this recipe as it is one of my favourites too! Asian kale salad sounds like a yummy addition, btw! I have re-read the recipe but I cannot spot the mistake :( . In step 4, you make the sauce and cornflour slurry and in step 6, you add them both to the pan and then incorporate chilli and spring onion mixture you made in step 5 back into the sauce. Would you mind telling me which bit is confusing you?
    Many many thanks,
    Ania
      Wendy Gerster:
      Hi Ania,
      I thought it was a bit different originally, but haven`t got my printed out copy any more (wrote it into my recipe book by hand!). It all seems to be correct now, so either you`ve already corrected it or I need new glasses!
      Love, Wendy
        Ania
        Ania:
        No worries, glad it's all good now.
        Ania
Mavis Cruet:
I've just finished eating this - it's lovely, I highly recommend it.
My other-half even enjoyed it and he isn't normally keen on my chinese cooking attempts. I will definitely be eating this again.
This is my first recipe from this site and after eating this I'm looking to see what I can cook for tea tomorrow from Lazy Cat Kitchen.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thank you for lovely feedback, Mavis! So glad you both liked my recipe.
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