Black Pepper Tofu

Again I’ve been forgetting to take pictures of what we’ve been eating. Tonight I remembered, after we had already eaten. But here are the leftovers:

Black Pepper Tofu

Black pepper tofu! This was really delicious–Mark complimented the tofu and the eggplant (saying, “Now this is how to eat eggplant!”–enthusiasm his), both foods he’s not that crazy about. It ended up too spicy for C (though I just now realized I only used 2 tsp sugar instead of the 1-2 Tbsp indicated in the original recipe–could have something to do with it…) so I drizzled plain yogurt over his bowl to cool it a bit. I had some of his leftovers and it’s good with yogurt, too. I’m going to give you the recipe I ended up with but first I want say what I will do differently next time (and there will be a next time): omit crushed red pepper, maybe reduce black pepper to 1.5 Tbsp, don’t bother with flour-coating tofu (and maybe even skip pre-frying tofu), somehow fry the eggplant faster (or bake, perhaps?), smash garlic and matchstick cut the ginger as stated in the original recipe, maybe even further reduce the butter to 2 Tbsp?

Black Pepper Tofu
Adapted from Sarah Copeland as featured in The Washington Post
Time: about 2 hours, including ingredient prep time
Serves: 4

1 block extra firm tofu, drained, cubed and left to dry a bit on a towel for a couple hours
1 medium eggplant, cubed
Canola or other neutral oil for frying
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 medium onion, sliced
4 small sweet peppers (I used Jimmy Nardello peppers from our CSA)
6 cloves garlic, diced
1-inch peeled ginger, diced
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1 bunch green onions (scallions), cut in 2-inch lengths, whites and greens separated
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar (to taste)
2 Tbsp coarsely cracked black pepper (I cracked using a mortar and pestle)
Rice to serve

Heat a bit of oil (maybe 3 Tbsp) in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Fry tofu in batches, turing them so they’re very lightly browned and crispy on all sides. Then fry eggplant in batches, adding extra oil as needed. This can be done earlier in the day.
Wipe pan clean and add butter over medium heat. When butter is melted, add onion, sweet pepper, garlic, ginger and crushed red pepper. Cook a few minutes and then add white part of green onion. Cook for another several minutes, until vegetables are softened. Add soy sauce, sugar and pepper. Reduce heat to low and add tofu, eggplant and green onions. Serve immediately or heat for a few minutes if your tofu and eggplant are room temperature from cooking ahead. Serve over rice.

One of the great things about this recipe is that all the prep work and any pre-frying can be done ahead (during naptime) and then the sauce components come together really quickly at dinner time. I just realized I need to create a “naptime” category for the blog. Or a tag perhaps? I’m not sure what the difference is.

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