This crispy black pepper tofu is smothered in spicy sauce and served up with tender-crisp broccolini (or your favorite veggie). Serve over rice for a flavor-packed meal that's totally doable on a weeknight.
I realized this weekend that my favorite store is the produce store. I'm not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, yay produce! On the other hand, if I had told myself at twenty that this would be the case, I'd so be making fun of myself. I feel so dorky and old.
It's so true though. With anything else, say clothing, I pretty much buy what I need. When it comes to veggies I'm all about the impulse buys. And lots of times I buy stuff and then realize I don't have a plan for it. Whoops.
Good thing I run a food blog where it's my job to figure out what to do with produce.
A few weeks ago I was about to check out at the produce store and right before approaching the cashier I snagged a big bunch of broccolini. Why? Because it was pretty. Never mind the fact that I had a cart full of other veggies that I already had recipe plans for. I do this all the time, and because fresh veggies don't last forever, it usually means I have to think fast. That's how I ended up cooking up this black pepper tofu with some stir-fried broccolini. The broccolini has a nice mild flavor—much less pungent than broccoli. I thought it would go perfect with some the spicy sauce for the black pepper tofu, and it did. Also, it did look pretty cool, as I suspected it would.
You don't have to use broccolini if you're not into it or it's not available. Good old broccoli would be just fine.
Crispy Black Pepper Tofu
- ½ cup low sodium soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons vegan brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated black pepper
- 1 14 ounce package extra firm tofu, drained, pressed and cut into 1 inch cubes
- About ⅓ cup cornstarch
- About ¼ cup vegetable oil*
- 3 dried chile peppers, cut in half**
- 3 scallions, white and green parts separated, and chopped
- ½ pound fresh broccolini***
- Cooked rice for serving
In a small saucepan, stir together the soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and black pepper. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Lower heat and allow to cook at a low simmer for about 20 minutes until reduced by about half, stirring occasionally.
While the sauce simmers, place the cornstarch into a medium bowl. Very generously coat the bottom of a medium nonstick skillet with oil and place it over medium heat. Dredge the tofu pieces in cornstarch, and when the oil is hot, transfer them to the skillet in an even layer. Cook about 10 minutes, flipping once or twice, until browned and crispy on multiple sides. Transfer the tofu to a paper-towel lined plate.
If the skillet it dry, add a dash more of oil. Add the chile peppers and white parts of scallions, and cook until the peppers begin to darken, about 1 minute. Raise heat to high and add the broccolini to the skillet. Stir-fry until bright green and tender-crisp, about 4 minutes. Return the tofu to the skillet and pour the sauce over everything. Flip a few times to coat the tofu and broccolini in the sauce. Remove from heat and sprinkle with green parts of scallions.
Divide onto plates and serve with rice.
*If you prefer a version of the dish that uses less oil, feel free to pan-fry the tofu without cornstarch. You can find some guidance on how to do that here.
**Remove the seeds to cut down on the heat level (the dish is on the spicy side no matter what though). ***Substitute a small crown's worth of broccoli florets if you prefer.
Nutrition information does not include rice.
Whit Montague says
This recipe was a big success with me and my 13-year-old. I made a couple of changes:
Potato starch instead of cornstarch just because I did not want to go to the store;
1 TEASPOON pepper because my daughter does not like spicy food; and
Added a large dollop of Sambal Oelek (pepper sauce) to my serving post-cooking to make up for the required-by-teen blandness.
It was delicious!!! I will have to make it with the full amount of pepper this summer when the teen is away at camp.
Love your recipes.
Alissa Saenz says
I'm glad it was a hit! It is pretty spicy with the full amount of pepper - it was almost too much for my husband. I hope you enjoy it when you get to try it out yourself. :)
Where can you buy dried chiles? Can you buy them at a regular grocery store? Thank you!
Alissa Saenz says
If you're grocery store has a well stocked international foods section I'd look there. Otherwise, you can definitely get them at an Asian market or online.
if i dont have rice vinegar, will regular white vinegar suffice? thanks!
Alissa Saenz says
That should work just fine! Enjoy!