30 minute black pepper tofu has all of the fiery, umami-qualities you love about classic takeout. Serve this meatless main over rice for an easy, flavorful weeknight meal.
The Best Black Pepper Tofu
I made the executive decision that we’re cooking a full Chinese spread for Christmas dinner this year. This was never something my family took tradition in, however I did a poll on Instagram yesterday that revealed that over 50% of you eat Chinese food on either Christmas Eve or Day.
So, apparently I’ve been missing out.
This is actually the first Christmas in 30(!) years I’m not spending with my parents back home in Florida, so my brother and I wanted to do something fun and different this Christmas in Colorado.
As a result, we’ll be slinging dumplings, firing up fried rice, searing chunks of sweet and sour chicken, and cranking out this fiery black pepper tofu.
What is Black Pepper Sauce?
In short, black pepper sauce is a punchy combo of aromatics, black pepper, and a kick of heat. It’s Chinese in origin, and classically prepared with chicken.
This recipe, in particular, includes a full tablespoon of black pepper, which may seem like a lot, but keep in mind it’s the headliner ingredient. Using this much black pepper does add spiciness, however it’s not too overpowering.
Plus, the sugar helps level out the heat.
How to Make Tofu Crispy:
Coating the tofu in a light dusting of cornstarch imparts ultra-crispy texture once the tofu is pan-fried. This is one of the best ways to get dynamite texture and win over even the most discerning carnivores. (Trust me, this method has been proven with my meat-and-potatoes-devotee of a brother.)
Another trick is patting the tofu dry before cooking to keep it moist and creamy on the inside while the outside gets browned and crisp.
And, of course, make sure you use EXTRA firm tofu. It will produce the crispiest cubes by far.
My favorite brand is actually the vacuum-sealed, super-firm tofu at Trader Joe’s. It has the least amount of moisture to press out, which leads to the best texture. Garnishing with a fresh herb like basil or cilantro right before serving adds a layer of freshness and pop of color. Serve the flavorful concoction over steaming white rice and skipping takeout has never been so temping.
And if you should wind up with leftovers, they reheat like a dream up to three days later. I know, total Christmas miracle. This will be the last recipe post before Christmas, so I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season filled with quality time with family and friends. Oh, and be sure to leave a comment below letting me know what you plan on cooking and baking for the holiday!
I’m so grateful for everyone I’ve connected with and have met through this platform. Your support for Dishing Out Health means the world. If you make this recipe, be sure to tag @dishingouthealth on Instagram so I can see your creations!
Other Healthy Tofu Recipes:
30 Minute Black Pepper Tofu
- 1 14-oz. block extra-firm tofu
- 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil divided (sub olive oil or avocado oil)
- 5 Tbsp. lower-sodium soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
- 4 garlic cloves thinly sliced
- 1 shallot thinly sliced
- 1 small Fresno chile seeds and ribs removed, thinly sliced (optional)
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
- White rice and fresh basil for serving
- Press excess moisture out of the tofu using either paper towels or a kitchen towel. Slice into 1 inch cubes and place in a large bowl. Toss with cornstarch until tofu is well coated.
- Combine soy sauce, sugar, black pepper, and ginger in a small bowl or glass measuring cup; stir with a whisk. Set aside.
- Heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add tofu; cook for 7 to 8 minutes, turning to brown all sides, until golden-brown and crisp. Transfer tofu to a plate and reduce heat to medium.
- Add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil. Once hot, add garlic, shallots, and chile; cook 2 minutes, stirring often, until softened. Add tofu, soy sauce mixture, and green onions; cook 1 to 2 minutes, tossing often to fully coat tofu. Serve over rice and garnish with fresh basil.