Crispy Peppered Tofu

I recently signed up for the Ottawa VegChat Google group and was delighted when the following recipe showed up in my inbox with a request to take it for a lil’ test drive. And test drive it I did! The original didn’t call for allspice, but I found it added a really nice depth to the dish. I also tweaked the directions to include a Tupperware, because it makes everything SO much easier. I suggest pairing the tofu with Garlicky Glazed Greens, with or without a bed of rice to nestle into, depending on whether you’re overly carb-conscious or not. This takes a few steps and more oil than I’m used to using, but it’s soooooooo worth it.

It's crispy... it's peppery... it's deeeeelish!

Part 1:

  •   1 lb (or 16 oz, 454 g) firm tofu
  •   2 tsp rice wine vinegar
  •   2 tsp soy sauce
  •   1 tsp roasted sesame oil
  •   1/2 cup corn starch
  •   4 tbsp coconut oil for frying

Part 2:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 inch ginger root, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp roasted sesame oil
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced (optional)

Press the tofu first: slice the tofu into thick slices and stick them between a few sheets of paper towel. Weigh them down with another cutting board or a heavy skillet. Let it sit for about 20 minutes. When the slabs are nice and dry, gently separate the tofu from the towels and cut it into ½-inch cubes.

In a medium Tupperware (or anything with a lid), combine the rice wine vinegar and the soy sauce. Add the cubed tofu and toss it around a bit to combine. Set it aside for 10 minutes, shaking the container occasionally to recombine.

When ready to fry tofu, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy skillet or wok. Drain the excess liquid (if any) from the Tupperware and sprinkle in the cornstarch. Seal and give it a big shake. Add more cornstarch if the cubes aren’t covered enough for your taste. Carefully lower the battered tofu into the oil. Fry it for 3-4 minutes, allowing the tofu to brown on one side. Then carefully turn the cubes and fry for an additional 3-4 minutes to brown the other side. Turn and fry cubes an additional 1-2 times to brown the sides. Remove the tofu from the pan and set it aside for a second.

On to part 2: add the coconut oil into the skillet. Add garlic and ginger, stirring quickly for 30 seconds until sizzling and fragrant. Add red pepper flakes, black pepper, allspice, salt and tofu and fry for a few minutes, stirring constantly and gently breaking up any chunks of tofu that stick together.

Variation: I just tried this again today and LOVED the results. Forget all the ingredients from Part I except the cornstarch, and add about 1/4 cup cornmeal, as well as about 1 tsp of Cajun spice and 1/4 tsp turmeric. Then toss into a frying pan with some coconut oil. SUPER tasty results!

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