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    Black Pepper Tofu: An Amazing Ottolenghi Recipe

    If you're looking for an easy, delicious midweek dinner that's 100% vegan-friendly and filled with all the best fiery umami flavors you love in a classic Chinese takeaway, then this gorgeous black pepper tofu is just the thing you've been looking for!

    The dish can be completed in just 30 minutes and is perfect served over steamed rice with your favorite Chinese veggies for a healthy and tasty dinner that the whole family will adore. 

    The black tofu is cooked to perfection: the best possible combination of chewy and crispy, with plenty of delicious flavors from the garlic pepper tofu seasoning. With a black pepper tofu sauce, everyone will adore this dinner.

    Tofu is one of my all-time favorite things to cook with because it's so versatile. With a little effort in the preparation stage, tofu can absorb any flavor and develop the most wonderful texture while cooking, making it the perfect addition to any dish. Low in fat and full of protein, tofu is the perfect ingredient for creating healthy, nutritious, and tasty meals that are guaranteed to impress.

    How do I prepare tofu?

    So many people (vegans and meat-eaters alike) believe they don't like tofu… But this is generally because the tofu they've tried in the past hasn't been prepared properly! With a little time and effort, the blandness of tofu can easily be manipulated to create a tasty ingredient that absorbs the tofu marinade's flavors and gains the best possible crispy yet chewy texture that far exceeds any meat-based product.

    The trick to perfectly cooked tofu is to squeeze the excess water out before making the marinade. The easiest way to do this is by using a designated tofu press (like this one) that enables you to remove all the liquid in just 15 minutes, with no hassle or mess! 

    If you don't have a tofu press, you can still create delicious black pepper tofu by placing the tofu block between two paper-towel-wrapped chopping boards and weighing it down with heavy objects – such as cookbooks, tins, or cast-iron cookware. DIY tofu pressing will take longer than using a tofu press but will still enable you to enjoy much tastier and better-cooked tofu than you'll be able to achieve without pressing.

    How can I make tofu crispy?

    Once you've pressed your tofu and allowed it to marinade in the tasty seasoning that makes tofu so tasty, the next trick is to ensure it gets a nice crispy coating during cooking. In this recipe, I use a light dusting of cornstarch to provide an ultra-crispy texture to the tofu that even hardcore carnivores won't be able to resist!

    It's also vital to use extra-firm tofu, as this style of tofu will hold its shape far better when cooking, enabling you to get an excellent golden brown and crispy exterior.


    Suppose you end up with leftovers of this delicious tofu (not a problem in our household!) or want to make this dinner ahead of time. In that case, you can store the tofu and sauce for up to three days in the fridge.

    Reheat your tofu in the microwave or on the stovetop for an incredible taste sensation… But be warned, the spices will infuse in the refrigerator, so spice-phobes should be aware.


    I love to serve this tofu over white rice with a sprinkling of fresh basil. Cilantro also tastes great with this recipe and offers a slightly more curry-like finish to the dish. It's worth using fresh herbs for the seasoning as these will uplift the deep soy sauce and black pepper flavors, plus they add a wonderful pop of color to make an aesthetically pleasing as well as tasty dinner.

    If you don't want your dinner to be quite so spicy, then you can skip the Fresco chile. The dish will still be pretty spicy, so beware!

    Nutritional Information

    Tofu is an excellent ingredient for a healthy yet tasty dinner that's sure to impress carnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike. Tofu is remarkably low in fat yet high in protein, and the use of low-sodium soy sauce keeps the salt relatively low.

    This nutrition information is based on a single serving and doesn't include any extras such as rice, so be sure to factor these in if you're monitoring your nutrition.

    • Calories: 240 kcal
    • Carbohydrates: 11g
    • Protein: 13g
    • Fat: 18g
    • Saturated Fat: 2g
    • Sodium: 650mg
    • Fiber: 1g
    • Sugar: 4g

    You can reduce the sugar content by replacing granulated sugar with honey, although please do remember that this will make the recipe unsuitable for a vegan diet.

    Final Thoughts

    My family absolutely adores this black pepper tofu, and it always goes down well when I serve it at dinner parties with vegan and carnivore friends alike! Adjust the spices to suit your preferences, and I'm sure you will adore this dish as much as we do.


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