Tuesday, 12 January 2016


Tofu has always been a bit hit and miss for me. I get nervous if I order it when I'm out and about as when it's poorly cooked it can be awfully chewy and nasty. When done right though it can be a delicious vegetarian treat. As I have fallen back in love with the flavors Szechaun peppercorns again I decided to use them to create this yummy salt and pepper tofu. Like my Szechaun stir fry from an earlier post, it is quite the spicy but if you don't mind a bit of a kick to your food then this is definitely one to try!

Let's talk about tofu then. If you can, try and head to your nearest Asian supermarket where you can pick up blocks of the stuff for a lot less than what you will in most supermarkets. I got a 600g block for £2.50 from mine which is an absolute bargain and you'll also find its often a better quality tofu too.

Make sure it's a firm tofu to start with and then on a day when you have a bit of time to make dinner, you need to start to remove as much moisture as you can from the tofu to firm it up further otherwise it will disintegrate when you start to fry it. Place the tofu on a large plate and cover it with a sheet of kitchen paper and then place a heavy item on top that you don't mind getting wet (I use my pestle and mortar!). Every 30 minutes, drain the plate and refresh the kitchen roll until you get to the point where the kitchen roll is no longer becoming saturated with water. The tofu should also feel a lot dryer and firmer to the touch too. It is now ready to cut into cubes. 

Potato starch has become a bit of a revelation to me recently. Acting like flour, you can season it with the Szechaun and salt and then toss the the tofu in it so it really picks up that salt and pepper flavor. You can find it in large supermarkets and health food stores but you can use plain flour or cornflour instead of you can't get your hands on it.

Speaking of the Szechaun pepper, these can also be found large supermarkets markets but if you have an Asian supermarket nearby, try and get them there as you can probably get a massive bag full for a jolly good price. I love the flavor of Szechuan but don't be too heavy handed with it or the flavor will overwhelm the whole dish. If you wish, you can use simple crushed black peppercorns instead. You might spy a chili in this recipe too which is there just to ramp up the spice a little bit more as I love a bit of heat. You can leave it out if your not a fan of too much spice, you'll still get a little heat from the Szechaun pepper.

 Tofu is an excellent flavor sponge and whilst the salt and pepper flavor will really absorb into the bean curd, by adding in ginger, five spice and sugar spice mix into the pan you really give the tofu a proper lift and those Asian flavors really begin to meld together and shine. Add to that the sesame oil and Shaoxing rice wine and you have a proper taste of the orient. If you love Asian cuisine these are all ingredients you should stock up on as they can turn most meals into a proper far eastern experience. They can be picked up from most large supermarkets or Asian supermarkets so make sure you grab some. I wouldn't recommend swapping any of these ingredients for anything as you'll lose the essence of the whole dish.

If you're ready and your tofu is now firm and has had as much moisture as possible removed from it then lets get too it. The prep of the tofu may take a while but once you're there this shouldn't take you more than 20 minutes to make;

Salt And Szechaun Pepper Tofu

200g Pressed Firm Tofu Cut Into Cubes
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Crushed Szechuan Peppercorns
4 Tbsp Potato Starch
1 Diced Green Pepper
1 Diced Red Onion
2 Grated Garlic Cloves
1 Finely Diced Chili
1 Tsp Grated Ginger
1 Tsp Chinese Five Spice Powder
2 Tsp Caster Sugar
1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
1 Tsp Shaoxing Rice Wine Vinegar

  1. Begin by gently tossing the tofu in a bowl with the salt, szechaun pepper and potato starch until well the tofu is well coated. Don't be too rough as the tofu will still be slightly delicate at this point.
  2. Heat a pan with 2 tbsp of oil on a medium heat and add in the tofu, shaking off any excess potato starch before you do. Fry the tofu, carefully tossing the pieces as you do until they begin to brown slightly.
  3. Add the pepper, onion, garlic, chili, ginger and sugar and keep frying for a further 5 minutes, tossing the tofu gently and adding a smidge more oil if the pan is looking dry.
  4. Add in the sesame oil and Shaoxing rice wine vinegar and fry for 1-2 more minutes, making sure everything gets coated in the oil and vinegar.
Another simple and quick meal is complete! Serve the tofu and the accompanying vegetable in a serving dish whilst it's still piping hot straight out of the pan. We had ours with some egg fried rice which was a perfect side for our little Asian feast. You get a good old kick of spicy heat as you bite through the tofu with those underlying Asian flavors from the sesame oil, vinegar and delicious spices. Best of all it's a great "New Year, New Me" dish as the tofu is incredibly proteintastic, low calorie and gluten free. All the things people say you should be eating when trying to be good. There truly is nothing wrong with this super special spicy salt and Szechaun pepper tofu!

*This recipe is adapted from "Dim Sum" by Helen & Lisa Tse - If you love dim sum, buy it! It's mint!

No comments:

Post a Comment