Black Pepper Tofu

A few weeks ago, a friend and I were having what could only be described as a riveting conversation about tofu.

What?  You don't find conversations about tofu riveting?  Pssshhh......

Anyway, during this riveting conversation, she mentioned that she no longer buys the widely available, pre-packaged processed stuff and that I should stop too... And I'm all like, 'and buy what instead? are you suggesting i make tofu now?  please...'

But no...  It turns out, you can buy fresh tofu... and apparently its better... so on my next coop visit, i looked into this fresh tofu thing and when i found some, i bought it. right away.

Now, the truth is, despite having eaten said tofu last night, i have no idea if it was actually any better... because isnt the point of tofu that it doesnt taste like anything?  but i digress...

So, we have this block of life-altering tofu in our fridge but no plans... I considered making my standby but, really, wanted something different... so, to really shake things up, we pulled out a real-life cookbook.  not a pinterest recipe... not a google search... a real life, hard cover cookbook... and that cookbook was Plenty. We've had Plenty for over a year now, (it was a birthday - or was it christmas? - present to me from Jordan), but we'd never made anything from it...

But this was our time... We found Black Pepper Tofu... Looked good, sounded interesting... contained ingredients we'd never heard of... so why not? And while it did take us over a week to getting around to finally making it, we did it. we finally used the cookbook! (there are even oil splatters all over the pages to prove it, too...)

related: do you have any idea how hard it is to find kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)? turns out, it's about a week's worth of hard... I suspect you could leave it out or just use a little molasses instead but we're nothing if not perfectionists... or ingredient-hoarders... eh, let's stick with perfectionists - it makes me feel better...


I'm thankful to all those who came before us - all of the reviews, etc we found online allowed us to tweak this recipe a bit and turn it into something we really, really enjoyed...

Oh, and a bonus? We FINALLY used our rice cooker... we've only had the silly thing for a year and 10 months now... Banner day in our household, huh?

Black Pepper Tofu
adapted by us from Plenty - Yotam Ottolenghi
Click here to import directly into Pepperplate

3 to 4 tbsp canola oil

15 oz. firm tofu, cut into 1″ cubes

4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1.5 tbsp finely chopped ginger
4 shallots, thinly sliced
6 to 7 cloves garlic, smashed
1 poblano pepper, stemmed, deseeded and thinly sliced

2 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
1.5 tbsp kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
1.5 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar

6 to 8 small scallions, cut into 1″ pieces

2 c cooked brown basmati rice


Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. (no need to use non-stick, this doesn't stick anyway)

Toss tofu cubes in a bowl with cornstarch to coat.
Pan-fry tofu all over, until golden on all sides. (This will require turning frequently and you'll want to use a tong to avoid burns).
Place fried tofu on a paper towel to drain, cover with another paper towel and set aside.

Pour out excess oil and carefully wipe skillet with a paper towel.
Return skillet to medium heat and add butter. Allow butter to melt and then add ginger, shallots, garlic, and poblano. Cook until soft and shallots are beginning to caramelize, about 15-20 minutes.

Stir in black pepper, soy sauces, and sugar.
Return tofu to skillet and toss to coat.
Cook, stirring, until fully combined and warmed, 2 - 3 minutes.

Stir in scallions & serve over brown basmati rice.

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