Crispy Tofu with Tomato and Black Pepper

Crispy tofu with tomato and black pepperSometimes the inspiration for dinner is whatever in the refrigerator needs to be eaten before it goes bad. And through the magic of the Internet one nearly always can find a recipe using just about any combination of such things, even tofu and tomatoes. I adapted this one by Vietnamese-Australian TV chef Luke Nguyen by making some substitutions to accommodate what I had on hand. You can read the original here. As I made it the dish is rather spicy with an interesting balance of the heat from capsicum pepper and black pepper, of which Vietnam is the world’s largest producer. To make it less hot cut down on, or eliminate altogether, the chili first because the incense-like perfume of the black pepper is essential to the dish.



Extra firm tofu

12 ounces

340 grams

Fresh Thai hot or birds eye chili



Onion, medium



Canola or other cooking oil

½ cup

125 milliliters

Garlic, minced

1 tablespoon

15 milliliters

Tomatoes, whole, fresh or canned

4 small

4 small


to taste

to taste


1 teaspoon

5 milliliters

Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce

2 tablespoons

30 milliliters


2 tablespoons

30 milliliters

Black pepper, coarsely ground

1 tablespoon

15 milliliters

Cilantro sprigs

o garnish

to garnish


Drain the tofu and cut it into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes. Seed and slice the chili. Halve the onion through the root and cut into strips about 2 inches (5 cm) long by ¼-inch (6 mm) wide. Set the chili and onion aside separately.

Heat the oil in a wok until just beginning to smoke. Working in batches so that the oil stays hot fry the tofu, stirring often, until browned and crispy, 4 or 5 minutes. Remove each batch to paper towels with a slotted spoon.

Let the wok cool a bit then pour off all but 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) of the oil. Reheat over medium heat. Add the chili and garlic. Stir fry for about 1 minute or until fragrant then add the tomatoes, salt, sugar, and fish sauce. Cook, breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 3 minutes. Add the onions and continue to stir fry for another 3 minutes. Stir in the water, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.

Stir in the black pepper then fold in the reserved tofu. Simmer for no more than one minute to blend and warm through while retaining the crispiness of the tofu. Serve hot over rice garnished with cilantro leaves.


2 responses to “Crispy Tofu with Tomato and Black Pepper

  1. yumscrub November 16, 2011 at 19:23

    For years, tofu mystified me. I’m not embracing it and looking for tofu recipes; this sound really good. I’m going to give it a try. I also like the way you have your recipe formatted.

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