Peppery Tofu

I am no Indiana Jones!
I don’t trek up the Namcha Barwa, or white-water raft down the Zanskar.
And I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never been pursued by the head hunting Dayaks of Borneo. Nor ever ventured crocodile hunting on the Zambezi.
In fact I’m so not adventurous, that when I go to an Indian restaurant I always order paneer butter masala or malai kofta.
Oh, and this one time I ordered dal makhani.
So-rry! I’m trying…..
So when my kids took me to Thanying, the Thai restaurant at Amara, here in Singapore, I decided to break out of my cocoon and order something other than my favourite Thai Green curry (“no mushrooms, and no fish sauce please!”) and pineapple rice.
I scanned the menu, my heart racing at the sight of the unfamiliar and the uncharted.I finally chose to order the tofu with green pepper, accompanied by steamed rice.
(This to me, was like swimming with the sharks.)

When the dish arrived, it was aromatic and delicious looking, and the jasmine rice fragrant and inviting.

I tucked in, and I’d found my new favourite Thai dish!

It was spicy thanks to the fresh green pepper and the oodles of ground black pepper it in. It had notes of soy and sweet brown sugar and the tofu was crisp on the outside and addictive all over.

D declared that she wanted this tofu dish every single day. And so began my quest for the elusive tofu dish….

My search, short of taking me to the alleys of Cairo and the valleys of Khatmandu, led me to Macheesmo. A foodie blog written by Nick Evans. A guy who loves to cook! (I hope my husband is reading this).
Nick makes everyday, no-nonsense food. Food that is simple and delicious, with explanations that are easy to follow.
I had found my Holy Grail Tofu dish.
Here is my (spicier) version of Nick’s excellent dish, using fresh green pepper, regular black pepper, red chillies and green scallion.
Colourful, flavourful and delightful!
1/2 kg extra firm tofu, pressed and cubed
Cornstarch, for dusting1/2 cup vegetable oil, for frying the tofu2-3 tablespoons oil4-5 cloves garlic, minced1-2 inches fresh ginger, diced

1 medium onion, diced fine

4-5 large red chillies, sliced (use less if you aren’t as adventurous as me)

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Salt to taste

4-5 stalks fresh green pepper (optional)

1 tablespoon black peppercorns, roughly ground

6 scallions, chopped


Cut the tofu into slices that are 1/2″ thick and drain well on paper towels with a gentle weight on them.

Cube the drained tofu and toss in cornstarch to coat the cubes.

photo (50)

photo (51)

While the tofu is draining, prepare the onions, chillies, garlic and ginger. Set aside.

photo (48)

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Shallow fry the cubes of tofu in batches. Put some in a single layer, in a large flat-bottomed pan, adding a couple tablespoons of oil for each batch. Turn the cubes of tofu often until the sides are golden and crisp.

photo (52)

Drain on paper towels and set aside.
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In the same pan add 2-3 tbsps oil and fry the onions, ginger, garlic and red chillies until soft.
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Pour in the soy sauce and the brown sugar, then add the green pepper.
After 2-3 minutes, add the cubes of tofu and toss until well coated. Add salt to taste.
photo (57)
Add the crushed black pepper and cook for a few minutes more.
Take off the heat, pour into a serving dish, then top with the chopped scallion.
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Serve with white rice and enjoy!
And now goodbye- while I make travel plans to Patagonia.
So, what is the most adventurous thing you have done?

26 Comments Add yours

  1. charlotte says:

    That sounds really delicious, I’m really inspired and will definitely try to transform the tofu I have still sitting in the fridge into something similar!

    1. radhika25 says:

      It is delicious! Now all I order at Thanying is Pepper tofu πŸ˜€

  2. radhika25 says:

    Reblogged this on SINSATIONS- Cakes to drool over! and commented:

    This is for all you tofu lovers, who’ve been searching for this post!

  3. Nice… Will try it soon. And reminder to myself… to pickle some green peppers to have with thair sadam!

    1. radhika25 says:

      Oooh! Keep a bottle for me!

  4. I love your amped tofu recipe! Something tells me you can probably get good results with fried tempeh as well. πŸ˜€

    1. radhika25 says:

      Not sure if I’ve seen tempeh in Singapore…maybe I’ve just not recognized it?

      1. Hope I spelt it correctly! Heh heh! Tempeh is used widely here, especially in a peppery tumeric-coconut milk rich vegetable soup dish called lontong. Another local fav is deep frying the tempeh like fries and then tossing in a sambal with deep fried anchovies. Sometimes our supermarkets carry home-based produced tempeh wrapped in banana leaves (which is so quaint!); most suppliers have jumped on the mass-production wagon and it comes in plastic packets.

      2. radhika25 says:

        Guess I’d have to look for it in wet markets. R

  5. The dish is amazing!! I’m very much like you, rarely order anything different when I eat out, unfortunately when I have done so I was disappointed, so happy to hear that you weren’t and you have re-created this delicious dish. Safe travels!

    1. radhika25 says:

      What! You Patagonia! You’ve got to be kidding me πŸ˜€

  6. Ooo Radhika, I can go for this peppery tofu dish… over jasmine rice! πŸ˜›
    I also enjoyed reading your post. Brought lots of smiles and chuckles. I am not a picky eater (except when it comes to seafood) but once I know what is good, I’ll stick to it. Patagonia? How long? Hugs, Fae.

    1. radhika25 says:

      Hahahah! Patagonia? I want my comfy bed and my iPad at hand with wifi 24/7…. It’ll be a long time before I retire to Patagonia or the Himalayas!

  7. Trust Tofu to make great dishes anytime.

    Radhika, I need to compliment you on an unusually easy to decipher recipe. Which, I can tell you, is seldom the case. I have yet to fathom what vicarious pleasure chefs get by complicating recipes meant to be simple. Would you care to hazard a guess?


    1. radhika25 says:

      Hahaha! Thanks for the compliment Shakti! All credit to Nick Evans really. But I guess chefs want to keep the mystery of concocting all those delectable treats to themselves.

  8. Jacquee says:

    Hahaa – cute post! We eat lots of tofu in my house – the hubs is vegetarian. It is so versatile! Oh, and I spy a little elephant! <3.

    1. radhika25 says:

      Yes! You love elephants, I know πŸ™‚
      So what do you cook for the poor guy? Does he like Indian food?

  9. Tahny Lowry says:

    Onions, garlic, ginger and red chili’s?!?!! Yes, please! This could only taste fabulous! Hope you’re doing well!

    1. radhika25 says:

      It does, it does! Busy…but otherwise fine.

  10. Marysol says:

    I’m almost afraid to admit it, but I’ve never had tofu.
    Years ago, when my daughter brought home a favorite tofu dish and introduced it to her little brother, he thought she had said ‘toe food.’ And, well, it is possible his innocent comment might’ve contributed to my indifference. However, this dish looks absolutely delicious!

    1. radhika25 says:

      I never liked tofu much either….but its healthy and can be made into delicious dishes. And its so versatile.
      Thanks for visiting Marysol. Do try making this.

  11. N Ramanathan. says:

    The whole process of cooking the peppery Tofu dish has been made so easy by your lucid description and illustration.The end-product looks so delicious that is bound to tempt anyone to have a ‘GO’ at it.. I would love to visit Singapore to taste this dish.

  12. Fig & Quince says:

    I always stick to my tried and true favorites so totally in your camp but glad that swimming with sharks paid off so beautifully both for you and now for us with a good recipe. πŸ™‚

    1. radhika25 says:

      Yes….slowly becoming more adventurous thanks to all the brilliant food blogs I read πŸ™‚
      But it’s going to be a distant day when I even put my feet in a tank with nibbly fish….leave alone look a shark in the eye!

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