Crispy salt and pepper tofu is delicious; soy say all of us

Delicious served over a big bowl of white rice, or as part of larger weekend feast

Crispy salt and pepper tofu is simple and delicious.

Crispy salt and pepper tofu is simple and delicious.

 

This crispy salt and pepper tofu is simple and delicious served over a big bowl of steamed white rice, but I sometimes cook it as part of a larger feast at weekends too. It makes a tasty addition to any basic rice bowl, along with some stir fried vegetables or kimchi. Or you could use it to bring texture and protein to a noodle salad. Coming across a crispy cube of this tofu in a tangle of noodles is a real treat.

If you can’t get firm or pressed tofu, then buy the regular tofu and press it yourself at home by weighing it down on an upturned plate with weights like tinned beans. Place kitchen paper beneath it. Leave for at least half an hour. This will compress the block and remove excess water, giving you even crispier tofu.

I seem to use cornflour the most in Asian cooking, especially for thickening sauces and coatings. It’s light and not as dense as regular wheat flour. It makes crisp, airy batters and is perfect for this tofu. Feel free to add your own flavour to the cornflour when coating the tofu. I sometimes add a few teaspoons of garam masala and skip the salty, pepper seasoning once it’s cooked.

I shallow fry this. No need to use a deep fat fryer for this quick midweek meal. The tofu gets crisp and delicious in just a little oil, so use a light olive oil or vegetable oil. Coconut oil works too. The seasoning that I sprinkle over has an addictive mix of salty, spicy and sweet. I love Chinese five spice, just a pinch can add a gorgeous twist to sauces and marinades. Star anise is the main flavour, bringing warmth, along with cinnamon, cloves, fennel and of course pepper. A little goes a long way. It’s ideal for stir fries and I sometimes add a pinch to hot chocolate or use it to make chai tea. It is a very handy spice blend to have in the kitchen cupboard. 

I’ve only introduced my kids to tofu in recent years. Like me, they love its ability to soak up flavours, when dropped into curries or marinaded. I try to use organic where possible and buy a few blocks when I see it as it stores well and is a handy protein source to have at hand. 

Crispy salt and pepper tofu

Serves four

Ingredients
450g block of firm/pressed tofu
4 tbsp cornflour
Pinch sea salt
Light olive oil for cooking
3 tbsp chopped chives or spring onions

For the seasoning:
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp Chinese five spice
½ tsp black or white pepper
1½ tsp fine sea salt

To serve:
Boiled rice or noodles, green beans or broccoli

Method
1 Place the cornflour in a wide shallow bowl and stir through a pinch of salt. Cut the tofu into chunky almost bitesize squares. Tumble the tofu cubes in the cornflour to coat them. You may need to use a spoon.  

2 Pour about 2cm depth of light olive oil into a wide, heavy-based pan. Place over a high heat. Shallow fry the cubed tofu in batches, turning so that each side gets lightly golden and crisp. 

3 Meanwhile combine all of the seasoning ingredients in a little bowl.

4 Once the tofu is cooked drain on kitchen paper to remove excess oil. 

5 Briefly fry the chopped chives or spring onion in the oil till it loses any raw taste and begins to crisp up. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Serve the crispy tofu on a bowl of white rice or noodles and scatter with the salty seasoning. Garnish with the chives or spring onion and serve with green beans or broccoli.

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