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Black pepper tofu in a bowl with a pair of chopsticks beside it.

Black Pepper Tofu

  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Chinese
  • Diet: Vegan


A delicious and flavorful black pepper tofu that’s easy to make and amazing served over rice for a complete plant-based meal.



For the Tofu

For the Stir Fry

  • 12 tsp sesame, avocado, peanut or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced white onion or shallots (100 g)
  • 1 tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger (10 g)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (15 g)
  • 1 cup lightly packed, roughly chopped scallions (50 g)

For the Black Pepper Sauce


  1. Optional: press the tofu for 20-30 minutes following this how-to press tofu tutorial. Pressing the tofu will help it get a little crispier and absorb more flavour but it’s not necessary to the success of the recipe.
  2. If you plan to serve this recipe with rice as recommended, start cooking that now, according to package instructions.
  3. Cut the tofu into approximately 1/2-inch cubes and toss with the cornstarch and soy sauce. Set aside and heat 1 tsp of oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  4. Add the tofu and cook for about 60-seconds on each of the 6 sides until each piece is browned and crispy. Remove from the pan.
  5. Gently wipe the pan to remove any residue from the tofu. Add the oil, then add the ginger, garlic, and onion. Saute for 4-5 minutes until softened, fragrant and translucent.
  6. While the onions, ginger, and garlic are cooking, mix the sauce ingredients together in a bowl. Make sure the sugar and cornstarch are fully incorporated before you add the sauce to the pan.
  7. Add the sauce and scallions to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring and scraping the pan often, until the sauce is thick and sticky.
  8. Add the tofu to the pan and mix to coat with the sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the tofu is hot and coated in sauce.
  9. Serve or your favorite rice and topped with thinly sliced scallions and fresh chopped cilantro.


This is inspired by Chinese cuisine and the black pepper tofu recipe in Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. I have not used authentic ingredients like oyster sauce, Shaoxing wine, or a mixture of dark, sweet and light soy sauce as you might find in traditional Chinese black pepper sauce recipes.

To make this recipe oil-free, bake or dry-fry the tofu and saute the ginger, onion and garlic in water or broth. To bake the tofu, toss in the cornstarch and soy sauce and bake at 400 F for 25-35 minutes until browned and crisped. To dry-fry the tofu, follow the recipe but omit the oil, just make sure you use a good non-stick or cast-iron skillet. 

For a gluten-free recipe, be sure to use gluten-free tamari instead of soy suace.

This recipe is best served hot and fresh, however, the tofu can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days and reheated as needed in the microwave or in a pan on the stovetop.

This recipe has a very strong pepper flavor, which makes it on the spicy side. If you don’t like pepper or spice, this probably isn’t the recipe for you.

I use this recipe to serve two but it could serve 3-4 with a smaller serving of tofu. If you cut a 350 g block of tofu into 32 cubes, it works well for 4 small servings of tofu.

The tofu can also be served as an appetizer (try it with toothpicks), side dish to other recipes or addition to a veggie stir fry.


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 301
  • Sugar: 13.3 g
  • Sodium: 1200 mg
  • Fat: 10.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 32.5 g
  • Fiber: 5.2 g
  • Protein: 23 g

Keywords: black pepper tofu, black pepper tofu recipe