On the heels of posting the tofu frying tips, maybe you’d like to try your hand at frying some? This is a recipe that I developed for Asian Tofu but couldn’t squeeze it in. I was attracted to this dish because one of my pet peeves about salt and pepper shrimp (and squid too!) is that rarely are the seasonings absorbed well. HOWEVER, the opposite is true when the same seasonings are applied to just-fried tofu, which take on the heat of the white pepper and chiles well during the fast and last round of stir-frying. Every bite of chewy-crisp tofu is flavorful, even more so when you add some of the chile, scallion, and garlic bits when you eat. Showing off the beauty of cooking with tofu, this vegan dish will please omnivores.
I typically use uniodized table salt for most of my cooking but here, delicate kosher works better for the final stir-frying. If you don’t have Kosher salt, substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons and 1/2 teaspoon of table salt for the soaking and final stir-frying, respectively.
If you have Asian Tofu, bookmark this recipe and add it to the collection. If you don’t have the book, I hope this salt and pepper tofu whets your appetite for more.
Salt and Pepper Tofu
Yield: Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as part of a multidish meal
- 14 to 16-ounces firm tofu
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 3 cups very hot or just-boiled water
- Canola oil
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 or 3 Thai or Serrano chiles, thinly sliced
- 2 large scallions, white and green parts, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- Cut the tofu into chunky dominoes, each about 1 inch wide and high and 2 inches long. Put the tofu pieces in a shallow bowl. Dissolve the 2 1/4 teaspoons of salt in the water, then pour over the tofu. The tofu should be just covered. Set aside for 15 minutes.
- Transfer the tofu pieces to a non-terry dishtowel or double layer of paper towel placed atop a plate. Let drain for about 15 minutes.
- Pour 1 1/2 inches of oil in a wok, deep skillet, or saucepan. Heat the oil over high heat to between 360 and 370°F. Blot excess from the tofu one last time, then fry the tofu in batches of 5 to 6 pieces, sliding them into the oil, then gently stirring them with chopsticks or a skimmer to prevent them from sticking. If they stick, let them fry to when they’re light golden before nudging them apart; if that’s hard to do, remove the tofu from the oil, separate the pieces then quickly replace them in the oil to finish frying. They should be crisp and golden after about 2 minutes. Drain the tofu on paper towel. Return the oil to temperature before frying another batch.
- As the tofu fries, mix together the pepper, sugar, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Set these ground seasonings near the stove, along with the garlic, chiles, and scallion.
- When all of the tofu pieces have been deep fried, let them drain for a couple minutes. Meanwhile, pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the oil from the wok. Reheat the pan over high heat. Then add the garlic, chile, and scallion. Cook for about 15 seconds, stirring, until fragrant.
- Add the tofu, then sprinkle in the ground seasonings. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly, to allow the tofu to absorb the flavors. Transfer the tofu, along with all the bits in the pan, to a plate. Serve immediately with rice.
- Tofu Frying Tips
- Smart Ways to Stir-Fry Tofu
- How to decipher Tofu Textures (video)
- Tofu, Kimchi and Bacon Taco Recipe
- Chinese Fermented Black Bean Magic (plus recipes)
- Fried Tofu and Egg Pancake Recipe (Tahu Telur)