Thursday, November 12, 2015

Black Pepper Tofu

Tofu, a natural replacement for paneer in the US is a very versatile ingredient. That is the reason it is used in all the cuisines like Mexican, Indian, Italian, Chinese and it forms the base of the Vegan dishes. Tofu as most of you know is available in multiple firmness and the use of each type is fairly unique. I use the softer varieties and the silken form in soups and stews, the firmer variety in most main courses as well as dumplings and the fried puffs in gravy based main courses and hot-pots. It is amazing to see how well tofu blends with all kinds of spices from all the cuisines. 

Couple of weeks ago I had lunch at one of the Asian food joints in Mountain View known as Bangkok Bistro. We had their popular Black Pepper Tofu, Spicy Tofu and Fried Rice. I loved the way they served the lunch plate with a sizable amount of the main course along with some white rice and a small side of salad. To me, that was a perfect lunch plate. Having loved that, I made up my mind I would go back and try their other lunch plates too. But to my surprise, the joint shut shop a week ago. And now my wish remains unfulfilled. 

This week, I decided to try the Black Pepper Tofu at home, just trying to replicate the taste I had relished a few weeks ago.  But I was in a mood to try non conventional items that day, and so I made a big batch of Sriracha Fried Rice and Chili Paneer Noodles to go with it. For soup and appetizer, I made the Ginger Broth from Sweet Tomatoes Restaurant and these totally indulgent Crispy Thread Paneer, logs of paneer wrapped with kataifi and fried to make perfect finger food. So that way I completed my perfect Asian meal. Here is the recipe for the pepper tofu, the recipe for sriracha rice is coming up soon!


Extra firm tofu 1 box
Garlic 5-6 pods
Ginger 1 inch grated
Green Chili 2-3 (adjust quantity to taste)
Spring Onion white and greens 1/2 cup
Green and yellow bell pepper 1/2 cup, diced
Cornstarch 3-4 tbsp
Vinegar 1/2 tsp
Soy Sauce 1 tbsp
Oil 2 tbsp
Chili Oil 1/4 tbsp
Chinese Salt
Ground black pepper 2 tbsp


Drain and press the tofu block between two kitchen napkins. Place a pan on it to squeeze out all the water content. Cut the tofu into equal sized cubes and saute them in a pan with 1 tbsp of oil till it is brown on all sides. Remove, set aside.

In the same pan, add remaining oil and chili oil. The amount of chili oil will depend on how spicy you like the gravy. Add finely diced garlic, grated ginger and some minced green chili. Once the garlic loses its raw flavor, add the peppers and spring onion whites. Mix well. Let the peppers and onions become soft, and then add some chinese salt and pepper. Add all the tofu cubes.

In a bowl mix together cornstarch, 1/4 cup water, soy sauce, vinegar and black pepper. Make a homogeneous mixture, and pour in the pan. Keep stirring the gravy till it becomes glossy and deepens in color. Check the salt and spice. Adjust the salt, pepper and vinegar.

For serving, garnish with the spring onion greens. Enjoy with Vegetable Fried Rice or Chili garlic Noodles. If you want to break away from the regular rice recipes, try this Mushroom Fried RiceIt is absolutely yummy!! Also, try this Paneer Chili Noodles.

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