Crispy salt & pepper tofu recipe

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This crispy fried tofu features the stunning flavor combination of red pepper, black pepper, and salt that’s typically used for seafood in Chinese cuisine. Although the tofu may be fried, this recipe still uses less oil than anything you’ll ever encounter in a restaurant, so rejoice. Serve it up with a mound of hot steamed jasmine rice and Baby Bok Choy with Crispy Shallots & Sesame Seeds, and you’ll be in crispy, salty, and spicy tofu paradise.

  • Yield: 4 Servings
  • Cooking Time: 40 Minutes


  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry or rice wine
  • 1 pound firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil, for frying
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon canola or peanut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 (¼ inch) cube fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt, such as kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
How to Make It
    Prepare the Tofu
  1. Combine sherry and soy sauce in a medium-size bowl. Add tofu cubes, gently stir, and marinate for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Use this downtime to set up your wok and any sides you’ll be serving.
  2. Heat the oil over medium-high in a large skillet or wok. Sift the cornstarch into a shallow bowl. Drain the tofu from the marinade, shake off any excess liquid, and dredge the tofu in the cornstarch. Using a slotted spatula, carefully lower half of the tofu into the oil to avoid splattering. Fry the tofu, occasionally moving each cube to lightly brown each side, for about a minute on each side. Transfer the browned tofu to a large dish or bowl. Repeat with the remaining batch. Remove the skillet from the heat and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Drain or wipe away any excess oil or browned bits.
  3. Stir-fry the Tofu
  4. Pour the tablespoon of oil into the skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger and stir rapidly for 30 seconds until sizzling and fragrant. Add the red pepper flakes, black pepper, salt, and tofu and fry for 1 minute, stirring constantly and gently breaking up any chunks of tofu that stick together. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with the rice vinegar and scallion, and serve right away.

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