Chinese Salt and Pepper Tofu Restaurant Style

by Sala @ Veggie Belly on July 23, 2010

 

This vegan salt and pepper tofu recipe is a great dish to entertain with. I either serve it as an appetizer with tooth picks, or I serve it as an entree with some brown rice. All the components of this recipe can be made ahead and put together just before serving. This is a truly fancy, delicious, vegan, Chinese dish and it tastes like something you’d get at a restaurant.

To clean leeks, soak sliced leeks in water for a few minutes. The grit will settle to the bottom. Then scoop up the leeks floating on top and rinse under water.

There are a few recipes online for salt and pepper tofu, like this Chinese salt and pepper tofu on the post punk kitchen forum, this salt and pepper tofu with five spice  or this simple salt and pepper tofu  from Rachael Ray magazine.

Once you fry the tofu, toss it in sauteed leeks, celery, ginger, garlic and green pepper.

For a quick appetizer, skip the sauteeing just served the fried tofu with chili sauce like below. Toss tofu cubes in corn starch, salt and pepper. Fry till golden.

Notes:

- you can use this same method and recipe with button mushrooms, parboiled cubed potato, baby corn or paneer. The only change you will make is to make a batter out of the cornstarch and dip the vegetables or paneer in the cornstarch batter before frying. Tofu doesn’t need a batter because it has a lot of moisture already, so simply tossing it in cornstarch is enough 

- fry one piece of tofu first and taste it. Adjust the salt the pepper in the batch if needed and then continue frying the rest

- fry only a few pieces of tofu at a time. If you crowd the skillet, tofu wont crisp up

- if the oil temperature is too low, the tofu wont crisp up, instead it will get soggy with oil

- substitute leeks with 1/2 cup chopped onions

- you can make the leek, celery, bell pepper sauté a day ahead

- the tofu can be fried about an hour ahead of time and placed in your oven in the lowest temperature. simply toss the tofu in the sauté in the last minute

Vegan Chinese Salt and Pepper Tofu

serves 2 as an entree or about 4 as an appetizer

for the sauté
1/2 tablespoon oil
2 medium leeks, white part only, washed and grit removed (1 cup when chopped)
1 celery rib (1/2 cup when chopped)
1 small green pepper (1/2 cup when chopped)
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely minced ginger
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

for the tofu
1 block (14 oz when drained) extra firm tofu
4 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon or to taste freshly cracked black pepper
Salt

Vegetable or canola oil for frying

Chop the leeks, celery and green pepper into a fine dice. Heat oil in a wok on medium-high heat. Add chopped leeks, celery, and green pepper. Sauté on high heat for about 2 minutes. Add ginger and garlic. Cook another 1-2 minutes. Add soy sauce and brown sugar and cook 30 seconds. Set this mixture aside.

Pat dry the drained tofu. Cut into 1 inch cubes. Place the tofu cubes in a large bowl. Add corn starch, salt and pepper. Gently toss till the tofu pieces are very well coated.  

In a skillet, pour oil so that it comes up 1/2 inch. Heat the oil.Make sure oil is hot. Add tofu cubes a few at a time. If you fry too many in one go they won’t crisp up. Fry the tofu pieces, flipping them around, so that all sides are golden brown. Drain onto a few layers of paper towels.

Heat up the sautéed leeks, celery and bell pepper. Add the fried tofu cubes to this. Toss well. Serve vegan Chinese salt and pepper tofu with your favorite chili sauce and garnish with celery leaves or green onions.

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Comments

comments

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rashmi July 23, 2010 at 4:04 pm

this looks seriously tasty, I’m going to try this with sichuan pepper salt

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2 aipi July 23, 2010 at 4:21 pm

I don’t like tofu but this recipe looks great, I will give it a go! Thanks for sharing :)

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Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

You can always make salt and pepper paneer or any of the other variations ive listed above :)

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3 satya July 23, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Delicious clicks and yummy recipe … thanks for all the tips and options you have included … this dish looks really tempting… i am going to try it

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4 Trudy ~ veggie num num July 23, 2010 at 7:10 pm

WOW! So simple and so very good.. love your idea of using mushrooms too.. think I’d like to cook both at the same time and eat them together :) yum-o!!

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Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

Thats what I do sometimes – make an assortment of salt and pepper mushroom, salt and pepper baby corn and salt and pepper tofu.

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5 Priya July 23, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Yummm!!!droolworthy dish, looks fan tas ticcc…

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6 Brian July 23, 2010 at 7:48 pm

I’ve never thought about doing tofu as an app at a party, but this just looks fantastic and I bet it would be a huge hit! Your post was so wonderful and pictures were stunning, of course.

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7 Sanjana July 24, 2010 at 5:23 am

This looks delicious. Lovely photographs, too! I’ll certainly be trying it!

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8 Anu Menon July 24, 2010 at 5:23 am

Gurl u shud b punished for putting up such a tasty recipe – its past 1 in the night and i can hear my stomach growl :D
Mouth watering especially when i think of paneer…

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9 shweta July 24, 2010 at 5:23 am

that does look very yum, i am definitely going to try it.

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10 Nithya July 24, 2010 at 5:24 am

Its surely a fancy dish. Looks yummy too :) A great starter :)

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11 The Cilantropist July 24, 2010 at 12:20 pm

So great to find your blog! Your food looks fantastic, I can already see that I would LOVE this tofu (actually thinking about making it soon, I have some in my fridge) and also the previous recipe with israeli couscous. Looking forward to seeing more great recipes in the future. :)

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12 pavithra July 24, 2010 at 12:40 pm

i too love the fried tofu with pepper and salt as well as with indian Masalas..so yummy really great snack and my kids fav too.. hey I too have that silver spoon sala.. it is really cute.

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13 nandini.p July 24, 2010 at 7:42 pm

hi sala…

Great idea for parties … Your sticky tofu thins are popular and a regular at home. Thanx for another interesting one.

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14 Jacqueline July 25, 2010 at 4:19 am

I’m new to tofu, but have become a real covert, so I am always chuffed to see a great recipe like this. Off to add it to my wee folder. Thanks for the recipe :)

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15 Katrina (gluten free gidget) July 25, 2010 at 1:03 pm

This looks amazing! I love tofu, but have only cooked it once or twice. I’m a bit intimidated by “the ‘fu”!

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16 abraham July 25, 2010 at 1:03 pm

beautiful photography… looks inviting… try my home made paneer @ http://chackoskitchen.blogspot.com/2010/03/home-made-paneer.html

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17 Pam July 25, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Everything always look so good! Thank you so much for posting all your cooking. I just started being a vegetarian in January, and you really helped me with the transition from eating meat. Your recipes and photos are always amazing!

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18 kathy July 25, 2010 at 5:39 pm

this looks so yummy!!! I really hope you will submit it to my new “vegan finds” site:

http://www.findingvegan.com

Kathy

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19 delicieux July 25, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Even though I am vegetarian I have to admit I really don’t enjoy tofu, but these actually look delicious enough that I might have to give it a try again. :)

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Ava Reply:

I agree with you. I made this tonight and I’m already planning on purchasing more tofu this weekend.

I’m also thinking of speeding up the process by using two skillets.

Thanks for this delicious recipe. It is a bit time consuming, but it was worth it.

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20 Deepti Pawar July 25, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Whoops, did I say couple of free minutes? LOL. I sounded like a cell phone commercial. Haha. You got what I mean, though, right!? :)

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21 Deepti Pawar July 25, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Hey there! First of all, thanks for stopping by my space. I happened to get a couple free minutes and I stopped by Veggie Belly, and am I impressed by what you have here or what?! I can assure you I will be coming back here many more times…your recipes are such! And, you have a surprisingly refreshing space out here…Creative recipes, beautiful blog layout, superb photography, great presentation and good writing – One cannot ask for more! Will stay connected.

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22 Preeti July 26, 2010 at 6:51 am

Lovley… looks really tempting!!!

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23 art and lemons July 26, 2010 at 6:52 am

Funny, I was just thinking about finding a new tofu recipe this morning! I’m going to make this crispy fried salt and pepper tofu soon, like today.

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24 Shriya July 26, 2010 at 6:52 am

Pepper tofu sounds and loks yummy. whenever I visit your blog I have a treat for my eyes. Gorgeous pics. I am learning lot of good shots from you. Really an inspiring blog.

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25 Anu Menon July 26, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Hey…
I had been to this Thai BBQ 2 days back and the husband insisted on ordering the deep fried tofu appetizer. It reminded me of this recipe… It was their sauce that was addictive!

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26 Xiaolu (6 Bittersweets) July 26, 2010 at 6:42 pm

What adorable little appetizers. I’m Chinese and I’ve never thought of something like this. Great creation, Sala!

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27 Ava July 29, 2010 at 7:55 pm

How much brown sugar am I supposed to use? I did a tablespoon but I don’t see an amount in your recipe.

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Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

Oops! sorry! I’ve updated the recipe with the brown sugar.

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28 Katie July 30, 2010 at 1:44 pm

omg! i eat this dish at my favorite chinese restaurant in austin, TX every time I go there. I can make this recipe in houston, tx? YAYYYYY thank you sooo much!

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29 Zom G. August 8, 2010 at 7:42 pm

This was a wonderful surprise! The texture and the flavor were perfectly complementary. The quantity of leek & pepper sauce was exactly enough to coat the crispy tofu and the whole dish was savory and mouth-warming. I was tempted to eat the whole batch, but luckily I had my family around to temper my impulses. Needless to say, this is one for the recipe box! Thank you!

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30 kristin August 20, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Despite my frying misadventures, this is the first recipe that’s actually made tofu taste good! Once I work up some more courage, I’ll definitely be trying it again. Thanks!

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31 Angela April 19, 2011 at 6:50 am

Just discovered your website – stunning! I also make a salt and pepper tofu, but I like your variations on this one. Your photos are stunning. I’m now following (stalking?) you on Twitter + RSS :)

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32 Anamika July 27, 2011 at 9:23 am

This looks yum!!

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33 Kat Dennis August 10, 2011 at 9:39 pm

This looks great and now I’m going to spend more time going over your blog. Thanks for sharing.

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34 stephan December 16, 2011 at 7:15 pm

How would i lessen the amount of salt and pepper that sticks to each piece? I found it to be too salt&peppery for a main dish with brown rice. I don’t want to give up but just tone it down a bit. thanks!

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35 Michelle April 5, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Love this… tastes awesome! :) Thx!

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36 s April 10, 2012 at 3:04 am

Hey Sala, this tasted awesome. we made a mistake on using dark soya sauce, but in terms of taste, wow. I don’t think I’ve eaten tofu this delicious!

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37 betty November 12, 2012 at 3:19 pm

soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo goood

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38 Mary Blackledge Corroo January 14, 2013 at 5:26 pm

I made this for dinner tonight. I used green onions rather than leeks. This was a delicious dish. I’ve never had tofu fried like this. The cornstarch coating is really yummy. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

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39 Robin Sellars September 30, 2013 at 5:22 pm

oh my goodness, this was soooooooo good!! The tofu came out so deliciously crunchy! I used 1/4 t. of salt – I’ll use a little more next time. DELICIOUS!

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40 Kavitha S October 21, 2013 at 9:57 am

Wow this looks delish!! Gonna give it a try. Do you have any suggestions to get by with the frying. Is oven an option ?

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Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

You could bake it, but it wont be the same :(

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41 nerida January 22, 2014 at 12:38 pm

This is one of my fav. Chinese restaurant dish. I am making this tomorrow night for sure. In the restaurant it has chilli. I assume I can add some finely sliced chilli to the leeks mix. My husband is Chinese but I am gonna out Chinese him when I can make this.

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Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

Yes, sliced chillies will be great! Let me know how you and your husband liked it!

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42 Jig P April 24, 2014 at 7:24 am

My kids loved this dish! Normally they won’t touch tofu.

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