When I was in 6th grade my teacher, Mrs. Dagle, gave the class a get-to-know-you survey. She asked for everyone’s favorite color, book, food, etc. I remember answering my favorite food as “anything except tofu.” I hated the texture of tofu for years-I would often buy it and leave it in the fridge for weeks until I finally cooked it, only to throw half away. Salt and pepper tofu was the first recipe I tried where I really enjoyed the texture and the taste. Something about frying tofu to give it a crunchy texture made it more palatable to me.
I bookmarked this recipe years ago and it’s become a favorite for busy weeknights. I’ve also experimented with cooking the tofu in sauce afterwards, but I prefer to leave it crunchy just the way it is. Feel free to use it in other dishes or as a beginning step to making barbeque tofu.
- 1 block extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt (use your best salt for this, I like himalayan pink salt)
- vegetable or canola oil for frying
- 1 large hot pepper, diced
1. Layer a dishtowel, several paper towels, tofu, more paper towel, and another dish towel on counter. Place something heavy on top and wait about 30 minutes for tofu to release it’s excess water. Slice into 1″ cubes. Combine cornstarch, salt, and pepper in a bowl, and toss tofu to coat.
2. Heat about 1 cup vegetable oil in a medium pan over medium heat until you can see ripples in the oil. Carefully drop coated tofu in, spreading apart so they don’t cook together in one massive chunk. Extra water in the tofu can make the oil pop, which is why it’s important to drain it. Cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes, then flip to cook the other side.
3. Drain tofu on a paper towels after cooking.
4. Return to clean pan after draining and saute with hot pepper for a minute or two.
5. Serve with rice. I served mine with a homemade teriyaki sauce for dipping. Try this with Rogue’s Brutal Bitter IPA.