Today, I am starting my Lunar New Year series here on my blog! Lunar New Year￼ (also called Chinese New Year) is celebrated on a different day every year because it follows the lunar cycle. This year, Lunar New Year is on February 12 and it is the Year of the Ox!
For my first recipe in my Lunar New Year series, I am making an easy Salt & Pepper Tofu recipe. This recipe is gluten-free and vegan so it’ll be great for everyone this lunar new year. Read on down below to see how I make it!￼￼￼￼
￼The Secret Ingredient to Crispy Tofu
My Salt & Pepper Tofu is so crispy and delicious it will have you coming back for more and more! What makes the tofu so addicting is the nice crisp crust that it gets from being fried. While you can use all purpose flour or corn starch as a coating, potato starch is the secret ingredient that really makes the tofu extra crisp. It is a super fine powder (made from potatoes) and has a high starch content, so when it hits the hot oil it instantly gets crispy and seals in the moisture of the tofu.￼￼
You can find potato starch in the baking section or the Asian section of your grocery store. This is used a lot in Korean cooking as well so you may find it next to the Korean items.￼￼
Using White and Szechuan Peppercorns
White peppercorns, Szechuan peppercorns, salt, and sugar come together in this delicious salt and pepper blend.
White peppercorns are traditionally used in Chinese cooking and they have a very mild an earthy flavour compared to black peppercorns. They add a smoothness to the salt and pepper blend and it really complements the fried chilis and garlic.
Szechuan peppers on the other hand or a little bit more pungent and bold flavour.￼ They also have a citrusy note to them which is really great for brightening up fried foods.
While the flavour is delicious, Szechuan peppercorns are also really special because they have a numbing quality to them. So when you eat anything with Szechuan peppercorn in it, you will experience a bit of a tingly feeling in your mouth. How fun!
But don’t worry, in this recipe we are only using 1/4 teaspoon of the Szechuan peppercorns. This way you get all the flavour and very little numbing effects!￼￼
Check out the full recipe down below OR watch me make my Salt & Pepper Tofu from scratch on YouTube! Don’t forget to LIKE and SUBSCRIBE to my channel!
Stay tuned for more Lunar New Year recipes coming in the next few weeks!
Get the Recipe!
Salt & Pepper Tofu
- 1 pound medium-firm tofu drained
- 1/2 cup potato starch
- 8 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 3 Thai Birds Eye chilis de-seeded and finely chopped
- 2 scallions white and greens divided, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon sichuan peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated white sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil for frying
- Begin by preparing the tofu. Line a plate with two layers of paper towel and set aside. Drain the tofu from the container and use a sharp knife to slice it through the middle so that you have two thin rectangles of tofu.
- Place the two pieces of tofu on the plate lined with paper towel and add two more layers of paper towel on top. Weigh the tofu down with another plate on top, followed by heavy cans of food or a heavy object to press the tofu. Let the tofu press for 15 minutes.
- Next prepare the salt and pepper mixture. Add the white peppercorns, sichuan peppercorns, salt and sugar into a mortar and grind it into a loose powder with a pestle. You can also do this in a spice grinder as well. Make sure that all the peppercorns have been crushed and the mixture is powdery-- this will help it stick to the fried tofu.
- Remove the paper towel from the tofu and cut into 1 inch by 1 inch cubes. Use another paper towel to pat the cubes dry.
- Place the potato starch on a plate and toss each piece of tofu in the starch to lightly coat it. You do not need to pack the potato starch on, just a light dusting works perfectly. Repeat the process for the rest of the cubes of tofu and set aside.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan or pot over medium-high heat. Insert a chopstick or wooden spoon into the oil. If bubbles form and rise around the chopstick/spoon, then the oil is ready for frying.
- Add the cubes of tofu into the hot oil, spacing them out so that they do not touch. Fry for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side, or until the tofu is crisp and has turned a light golden brown. Once all the sides have been fried, remove the tofu from the pan and drain on a paper towel.
- To make the tofu extra crisp, double fry the tofu. Increase the heat of the stove to high and let the oil heat up for 2-3 minutes. Do not let the oil begin to smoke. Add the tofu back into the pan and fry again on each side for 30 seconds. Once the tofu has turned a medium golden brown colour and is crisp, remove them from the pan and drain on paper towels.
- Drain away all but 2 tablespoons of the frying oil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the chopped garlic, chilis, and the white parts of the green onion. Fry for 30 seconds and then return the fried tofu to the pan. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and pepper mixture and toss everything to coat.
- Remove from the heat, place on a serving dish and top with the fried garlic, chilis, and onion. Sprinkle a pinch of the salt and pepper mixture over the top and garnish with the green parts of the scallions.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!