Sunday 16 August 2009

Yotam Ottolenghi's Fiery Black Pepper Tofu

black pepper tofu

This dish was featured in The Guardian's "New Vegetarian" section back in October 2008. I immediately cut it out as it looked so good and filed it away to make some other time. Totally forgot about it until I was looking through my recipe file. He explains that the original recipe called for double the amount of chillies but that even this version was very hot and you may want to tone it down again.

Man, he wasn't kidding, it's not just hot it's 'Oh My God, I think I'm being cooked from the inside out hot'!!! So hot in fact that I couldn't finish mine....I was even getting the upper lip heat sweats and my mouth was burning for hours after. Shame as the flavours were wonderful and I loved the tofu prepared this way. So I will definitely be making this again, just with far less pepper. I don't think it was the chillies doing it as I only used 2 de-seeded which weren't very hot and I would normally use that amount for 2 people, but a tablespoon of crushed black peppercorns was just too much for me! **(I highly recommend making this with just a good grinding of black pepper and not measuring out so much.)

The original recipe is here but I'll post a scaled down version here that serves 2 people. I'll also post the original spice levels too as there are lots of people out there who can take their heat a lot more than I can :)

EDIT - I have re-blogged this one and toned down the heat levels - it's perfect now! 
Crispy Fried Tofu in Spicy Teriyaki Sauce
Please visit the new recipe, unless you like things lethally hot!!! :-)

Serves 2:
200g firm, fresh tofu (he recommends getting the fresh tofu that's set in a tub like in Asian Grocers as it has a silky light texture) I also lightly pressed mine.
Cornflour, to dust the tofu
Vegetable oil, for frying

15g vegan margarine
3 small shallots, sliced thinly
2 red chillies, thinly sliced (I de-seeded mine)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2 tsp chopped ginger
1 Tbsp crushed black peppercorns, ground in pestle and mortar or spice grinder, coarse.**
1 1/2 tsp sweet soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp sugar
4 spring onions, sliced thin and about 3cm long

Steamed rice to serve

Cut the tofu into 3cm x 2cm blocks and toss them in cornflour, shake off excess. Pour enough oil to come 1/2 cm up the sides of a large frying pan, I used my wok, and bring up to frying heat. Fry the tofu in batches until golden and with a thin crust. Transfer to paper towel to drain.

Remove the oil and any sediment from the pan then add the margarine. Once melted add the shallots, chillies, garlic and ginger and saute for about 10 - 15 minutes on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally until shiny and soft. Add the soy sauces and sugar, stir, then add the pepper. Warm the tofu in the sauce for about a minute then stir through the spring onion. *I found there wasn't quite enough sauce with this, you may want to double the soy sauces and sugar*

Serve hot with plain steamed rice.


  1. That tofu looks perfect! I might serve this to my father who always claims that no food can be too hot for him :)

  2. I was actually thinking while eating this that it would be good for those who can never find things hot enough for them :) It's surprising how hot black pepper can be!

  3. Mmm the tofu looks delish! Plus I love love love spicy food, I think I'll need to make this soon!x

  4. Oh I kept a copy of that recipe too. Yours plated up is just making my mouth water, I must dig it out and make it soon.

    PS This is one of the best vegan blogs I have ever come across. Where have you been hiding?!

  5. Thanks so much for the nice comments!!! and welcome mangocheeks!!!

  6. I have Yotam's recipes tagged in my reader but I've only tried one so far (with globe artichokes). I'd have to turn down the heat on this one if I tried it so I'm grateful to you or being a recipe guinea pig!

  7. Hi nipitinthebud! and welcome! Yeah, this one was fierce alright! Next time I think I would just grind some black pepper on, not measure out so much!

  8. I have to agree that it was TOO hot. I love hot food but I now feel that I have got no stomach lining. Maybe I should file a law suit :P

  9. This looks delicious! I will make some soon, but after reading through your post and the comments I'll tone down the black pepper. I like my food spicy but not volcano strength! Loving the blog too, I've only just come across it and will be back again and again. Thank you

    1. Hi Jasmine! I've actually re-blogged this one here:

      It's much better now heat wise ;-) Glad you found my blog!!



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