This tofu dish is a veggie version of a Chinese classic, best served with plain steamed white rice. The original recipe calls for double the number of chillies, but even this version is very hot, so sensitive palates may want to take it down even further. Bonus: Everything but the sweet soy is available at the Co-op!
Vegetarian Black Pepper Tofu
800g/28oz firm, fresh tofu (a small package is usually about 400g/14 oz.)
- Cornflour, to dust the tofu
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 150g butter (2/3 cup)
- 12 small shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 8 red chillies, thinly sliced
- 12 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 tbsp chopped ginger
- 5 tbsp crushed black peppercorns
- 3 tbsp sweet soy sauce (or regular)
- 3 tbsp light soy sauce
- 4 tsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 16 small, thin spring onions, cut into inch long segments
Cut the tofu roughly into 1 inch blocks and toss them in cornflour, shaking off the excess. Pour in enough oil to come 1 inch up the sides of a large frying pan, and bring up to frying heat. Fry the tofu in batches in the oil, turning the pieces as you go. Once they are golden all around, and have a thin crust, transfer to a paper towel.
Remove the oil and any sediment from the pan and throw in the butter. Once it has melted, add the shallots, chillies, garlic and ginger, and sauté for about 15 minutes on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the contents of the pan are shiny and totally soft. While you wait, crush the peppercorns, using a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder. They should be quite coarse.
When the shallots and chillies are soft, add the soy sauces and the sugar, stir, then stir in the crushed pepper. Warm the tofu in the sauce for about a minute, then add the spring onion and stir through. Serve hot with steamed rice.