Crispy Salt & Pepper Tofu

Tofu can be off-putting, or tofu can be delicious. It’s one of those neato foods that takes on whatever flavor – and often texture – you want it to, for better or for worse. Usually, thankfully, for the better.

So I think it’s kind of funny when people flat-out declare they hate tofu. Except, you know, they haven’t even tried it – in any shape or form.

Crispy salt and pepper tofu | Kitchen Treaty

I guess I haven’t eaten meat in years and you could say the same thing about some kinds of meats, so I really have no room to talk.

What I would like to talk about is this. Crispy salt and pepper tofu. This recipe – so simple, so easy – is totally a revelation for me. Not since I discovered Sara Moulton’s beer bread have I been so ga-ga over the possibilities of one single recipe.

See, the thing is, I’ve always been able to say I like tofu – done right – but I’ve never, ever been able to make a plain old block of the stuff taste as good at home as when I buy prepared (marinated, baked, smoked etc.) tofu from a restaurant or grocery store.

Crispy salt and pepper tofu | Kitchen Treaty

Every once in awhile, I buy a block and try to make it taste decent. It’s always edible, sure, but irresistible? Hardly.

Until now. Until now!

Scrumptious, betcha-can’t-eat-just-one, crispy salt and pepper tofu.

Crispy salt and pepper tofu | Kitchen Treaty

The super-simple secret is dredging it in cornstarch – and then, yes, frying it in a fair amount of vegetable or canola oil until crisp. (Note: I’m working on a healthier baked version, but it’s not ready for prime time yet. Soon, hopefully.)

I’ve been making this stuff by the freezer-bag-full. See, it freezes wonderfully and I can just pull a few pieces out to top pasta, to sub for chicken in barbecue chicken pizza (sooo good), as a quick snack for the baby … loads of possibilities.

Tofu. Done at home. Deliciously. Is my life complete? Quite possibly.

I do know this: even “never-tried-it-still-loathe-it” tofu haters would like tofu done this way. I’m pretty sure of it.

Print Recipe

Crispy Salt & Pepper Tofu

Super crispy, delicious tofu seasoned simply with just salt and pepper. It's a total revelation in my kitchen.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 block extra-firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • Additional salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Press tofu to remove excess moisture. To do so, line a plate with several paper towels. Place tofu on paper towels and top with two or three more paper towels. Place three or four more plates on top of the tofu, making sure they're well-balanced. Drain for 20 - 30 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure plates are still balanced (toppling plates = bummer!)
  2. Remove tofu from paper towels. Place on cutting board and cut tofu into squares or rectangles, as desired.
  3. Add the vegetable or canola oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the corn starch, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to a large plate or shallow baking dish. Mix.
  5. Working in batches, dredge the tofu in the corn starch mixture, turning to coat evenly.
  6. Carefully add tofu to hot oil in skillet. Cook over medium-high for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally to brown all sides.
  7. Remove tofu from pan and place on several paper towels, blotting to remove excess oil.
  8. Serve as desired.

Adapted from Veggie Belly

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24 Responses to “Crispy Salt & Pepper Tofu”

  1. a farmer in the dell posted on January 14, 2013 at 8:45 am

    I have never successfully made edible tofu. My husband wont even try it anymore (which I can’t blame him) However, this looks convincing. I just so happen to have a box of cornstarch waiting to be opened! Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies posted on January 14, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    I always tell people that if they think they don’t like tofu, it’s probably because they haven’t had it prepared properly. Like a lot of restaurants clearly do not press their tofu before cooking it. Yuck. I’m definitely going to have to try this!

  3. Tony B | Simple Awesome Cooking posted on January 16, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Nice! I’ve tried making crispy tofu a dozen ways and still haven’t landed on one that works. Thanks for sharing this method.

  4. Kari@Loaves n Dishes posted on January 16, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    I adore fried tofu, I could eat these like potato chips. Is that bad?

  5. Courtney Jones posted on January 19, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    It’s true. I thought I hated tofu for the longest time until I had a fried tofu in a thai peanut satay. It was incredible! Love the idea of salt and pepper fried tofu. I have to try this! :)

  6. Brittney posted on January 26, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    Darby and I are recently converted to a vegan diet last year, so instead of kosher salt, Darby used kala namak salt this morning and it was as if we were eating eggs for brunch.

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  8. Rainyday Kitchen posted on February 5, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Delicious recipe, just tried it out for dinner tonight, turned out wonderfully. Might try it with softer tofu next time just for a different texture.

  9. rebecca posted on February 28, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    What would you suggest pairing this with for dinners? Also, do you reheat it after freezing or just let it defrost? If you do reheat them, what is your method?

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  11. Amy Kirby posted on June 17, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Made the tofu last night and served it with fresh stir fried bok choy and mizuna from our CSA. My husband (the meat eater) was blown away. “This is tofu? What did you do to it? It’s delicious. I’ve never said that about tofu before…” was his comment. We fought over the last few pieces. Oh – and it was easy to make :)

  12. Mir posted on July 7, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Brilliant. I just made it, and a phenomenal recipe. I love salt & pepper tofu, but have consistently failed with the texture of all fried tofu. This is easy, light, and spot on. Thank you.

    • Karen Troughton replied on July 8th, 2013 on 6:52 am

      I’m so glad you like it! I have had such a hard time making good tofu at home – I was so thrilled when I discovered this method!

  13. Shelagh posted on July 9, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    Really enjoyed this– thank you for the recipe! I served it with an almond-y Asian sauce from a Nigella Lawson recipe. Excellent!

    • Karen Troughton replied on July 10th, 2013 on 6:48 am

      That sauce sounds wonderful! I’m going to have to see if I can find it the next time I have this tofu. Thanks Shelagh!

  14. Lauren posted on July 31, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    I made this for dinner. Very tasty. It was easy to follow the recipe and have it come out right, but I didn’t stress over mine not cutting into perfect little rectangles. The salt and pepper is a good amount for non-overpowering flavor. Worth making as is.

    • Karen Troughton replied on August 8th, 2013 on 7:27 am

      Hi Lauren, so glad you liked it! It’s such a great “foundation” recipe. I love using it as a substitute for chicken in just about anything. And, yes, no matter what the shape, it tastes the same regardless! :)

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  18. Di posted on January 23, 2014 at 1:15 am

    Beautiful and so easy. I used potato starch instead of corn starch, topped it with some fried up garlic, ginger, shallots and birds-eye chilli. Served with fried rice

  19. Erika posted on May 28, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    I’ve made my tofu this way lots of times now & I want to say how much we love it. My son LOVES it! Stealing pieces before dinner is ready :) Thought I would share the complete recipe I use to make a dinner. I first cook the tofu following this recipe (but I actually press it for longer, figure the longer the better) then I make this & replace the shrimp w the tofu.

    http://www.melskitchencafe.com/stir-fried-broccoli-with-brown-rice-meat-optional/

    Seriously easy & yummy & so nice to be healthy & still be an entire hit w the family

  20. Ashley posted on July 26, 2014 at 11:00 am

    This recipe was so good! So easy and delicious. Thanks for sharing!

  21. tiffany posted on November 7, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    This was amazing!!! Sharing the recipe with everyone I can!

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