Black pepper tofu is a spicy stir fry made with crispy pan-fried tofu and crunchy vegetables tossed in a sauce made with soy sauce, sugar and black pepper. This a super easy vegan recipe is made with just a few basic ingredients and comes together really quickly.
How to make black pepper tofu?
To prepare this recipe, first firm block of tofu is cut into cubes and marinated. It is then coated with cornstarch and fried till it becomes crispy and golden brown.
Then vegetables like onion and bell peppers and fried along with ginger and garlic. The fried tofu is added in and cooked along with the veggies in a soy based spicy stir fry sauce.
How to make the tofu super crispy?
Cubed pieces of tofu which are pan fried till crispy is the star ingredient of this dish. It is important to prepare it well to get the perfect taste and texture –
- Tofu, also known as bean curd, comes in a variety of firmness. For recipes like this, where we need to pan fry the tofu, it is best to use extra firm tofu, which has the least amount of moisture.
- Tofu is generally sold immersed in water. To use it, you need to drain all the water and then pat dry the tofu with a paper towel to remove all the moisture. Some people also recommend pressing it under a heavy weight for 15-20 mins to squeeze out the water.
- While the tofu can be pan fried just plain, adding a marinade to thoroughly season it really enhances the taste. I have marinated the tofu with a vegan mushroom based oyster sauce and some black pepper. You can substitute the mushroom sauce with soy sauce, or skip the marinade all altogether.
- To make the tofu really crispy, it is coated with cornstarch before frying. Use a generous few spoons of cornstarch to completely coat the tofu. You can substitute with corn flour, or plain flour (maida) as well, or you can skip the coating completely. However, the resulting texture won’t be as crispy.
- Fry the tofu on medium hot oil. Test the oil to make sure it is hot before adding the tofu. When frying, let the tofu cook on one side first without moving it around too much, so that it develops a nice crisp coating. Then turn and fry on all sides till golden brown and crispy.
How to make the stir fry sauce?
The sauce used in this recipe is really easy and needs just a few ingredients –
- Soy sauce – forms the base of the sauce. The traditional Chinese recipe for black pepper tofu calls for 2-3 tablespoons of light soy sauce, along with 1-2 teaspoons of dark soy sauce for color. You can skip the dark sauce if you don’t have it.
- Vegan mushroom oyster sauce – a mushroom based stir fry sauce adds an earthy umami flavor and is a vegan substitute for the oyster sauce used in Chinese stir fries. You can skip adding it if you don’t have it.
- Brown sugar – to add a slight sweetness and balance the flavors of the dish. You can use white sugar, maple syrup or honey instead as well.
- Black pepper powder – as the name of the dish suggests, it gives a peppery flavor to the sauce that is characteristic of black pepper tofu. Use freshly crushed black pepper for best results.
- Cornstarch – a little bit of cornstarch is added to make the sauce thick so that it glazes and sticks to the tofu & vegetables.
Stir frying the vegetables
I have added onions, colored bell peppers (capsiscum) and spring onion greens for crunch, taste and color. You can add other vegetables like mushroom, green beans, cabbage, broccoli etc as well. Minced ginger and garlic also help enhance the flavor of the dish.
While most of the veggies in the recipe are optional, they add a really nice taste and texture to the dish as well as make it more vibrant and nutritious. However, I don’t recommend skipping out the ginger and garlic.
It is important that the vegetables in this dish should be crunchy and not mushy or overcooked. You should keep all the ingredients prepared before starting cooking, and then cook them on very high heat for just 2-3 minutes. Slightly blistered vegetables add a nice smoky flavor to the dish.
A healthy meal option
Black pepper tofu is a healthy dish combining the goodness of tofu and vegetables in a flavor-packed dish. It is a low calorie meal option, that is relatively high in protein from the tofu and high in iron, calcium and other vitamins and minerals.
To make it more nutritious you, can serve it along with steamed quinoa or brown rice. You can serve steamed or roasted broccoli, or stir fried green beans along with as well.
Serving & storage suggestions
Black pepper tofu is best enjoyed with a bowl of plain steamed rice or fried rice. You can also top it up with some roasted sesame seeds or cashews for extra crunch. It is a great & healthy option for a satisfying weekday lunch or dinner.
You can refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Saute in a pan to reheat the tofu before serving.
To make black pepper tofu at home follow the detailed step by step recipe with photos posted below.
See more related recipes like :
Black Pepper Tofu Recipe
Ingredients For Black Pepper Tofu Recipe
For the tofu marinade
- 200 gm Tofu extra firm or firm
- 3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon Vegan Mushroom Oyster Sauce or Soy Sauce
- 1 Teaspoon Sesame Oil
- 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper Powder (Kali Mirch)
For the stir fry sauce
- 1 Cup Onion chopped
- 1 Cup Colored Capsicum (Green, Red, Yellow Bell Peppers) chopped
- 1/2 Cup Spring Onion Greens chopped
- 4 Garlic Cloves
- 1/2 Inch Piece of Ginger
- 3 Tablespoons Cooking Oil
Step By Step Instructions for Black Pepper Tofu Recipe
Chopping the vegetables
- First prepare the veggies. Chop the onions, colored bell peppers and spring onions. Mince the garlic finely, and grate the ginger.1 Cup Onion, 1 Cup Colored Capsicum (Green, Red, Yellow Bell Peppers), 4 Garlic Cloves, 1/2 Inch Piece of Ginger, 1/2 Cup Spring Onion Greens
Preparing the stir fry sauce
- Combine soy sauce, vegan mushroom oyster sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar and black pepper powder in a mixing bowl.3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce, 1 Tablespoon Vegan Mushroom Oyster Sauce, 1 Teaspoon Rice Vinegar, 1 Teaspoon Brown Sugar, 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper Powder (Kali Mirch)
- Add some cornstarch to thicken the sauce.2 Teaspoons Cornstarch
- Mix all the ingredients well and set aside.
Preparing the tofu
- Drain the water and pat dry the tofu with paper towels. I am using extra firm tofu here.200 gm Tofu
- Cut it into roughly 1/2-1 inch cubes.
- Add the vegan mushroom oyster sauce, sesame oil and crushed black pepper for marinating the tofu.1 Tablespoon Vegan Mushroom Oyster Sauce, 1 Teaspoon Sesame Oil, 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper Powder (Kali Mirch)
- Gently fold with a spoon or your hands to coat the tofu in the marinade.
- Add cornstarch to the tofu. I start with 2 spoons and go upto 4 spoons as needed.3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
- Mix gently to coat the tofu completely with the cornstarch.
- Heat some oil in a wok or a pan and add the tofu pieces. Let them cook for a minute without moving.3 Tablespoons Cooking Oil
- Then turn gently and fry the tofu from each side till it's golden brown and crispy.
- Take out the tofu on an absorbent paper towel.
Stir frying the black pepper tofu
- In the same pan, add the chopped spring onion greens. You can reuse the same oil from frying the tofu
- Then add the ginger and garlic to the pan. Cook on high heat for 1 min.
- Then add the chopped onions and bell peppers to the wok. Stir and cook for 2-3 mins on high heat, as you get slight blistering on the vegetables.
- Add the fried tofu to the veggies.
- Then pour in the prepared sauce.
- Fold and toss the tofu and vegetables in the sauce to coat them completely.
- Black pepper tofu is ready. Serve it hot with steamed or fried rice.
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