This recipe should really come with a disclaimer like "May cause conversion to tofu lover". But maybe you already like tofu? Well, I've never been a fan. I eat it in dishes like Sichuan mapo dofu or Malaysian laksa soups, but I can honestly say that 9 times out of 10 I find it really bland and uninteresting. Anyhow, I felt like I can't do this vegan experiment without cooking with tofu. If nothing else, tofu is a good source of protein for vegans.....
After browsing through quite a lot of recipes, I came across this recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi for black pepper tofu on the new great Swedish vegan blog, Vegoriket (only in Swedish). I love Ottolenghi's new vegetarian series in Guardian, I highly recommend that you look it up! Both his vegetarian and other cookbooks are beautiful, and I think I'll have to go and buy the vegetarian one, Plenty, very soon as I keep seeing recipes from this book on different blogs.
So I decided to try the recipe, and I'm so happy I did as it was amazingly good! I'm now a tofu lover :) This recipe is hot though, if you're not a fan of spicy food, this may not be for you. Still, it is not mouth burning stuff but a nice heat. I've modified the recipe slightly, decreasing the amount of tofu by half as I find 200 g tofu per serving to be quite a lot. If you're hungrier than me, you can up the tofu to 800 g. I also added a little sesame oil and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
If you're not sure about tofu, I really recommend you try this. Not interested in tofu at all? Try this with slices of fried chicken or beef instead, because this sauce is seriously to die for.
Black pepper tofu (serves 4)
400 g firm tofu, cut in cubes
12 small shallots, thinly sliced
8 red chillies, thinly sliced
12 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
3 tbsp light soy sauce
3 tbsp sweet soy sauce (ketjap manis)
4 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp light brown sugar
0.5 tbsp sesame oil
5 tbsp black pepper, crushed (it should be quite coarse)
1 bunch spring onions, finely sliced
3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Toss the tofu in cornflour, shake of the excess. Pour enough oil to come up to 0.5 cm on the sides of a large frying pan or wok and bring up to frying heat
Fry the tofu in batches, turning the cubes until golden all around with a thin crust. Transfer to drain of excess oil on a paper towel
Remove the used oil from the pan, and add 1 tbsp fresh oil. Add shallots, chillies, garlic and ginger, and saute for around 15 min on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the contents are shiny and totally soft. While cooking, crush the peppercorn using a pestle and mortar, they should be quite coarse
Add the soy sauces, sugar, sesame oil and black pepper to the pan and stir. Add the tofu and let it warm through for 1-2 min. Finally stir in the spring onions and sprinkle with sesame seeds
Serve with steamed rice or noodles