This easy salt and pepper tofu, inspired by the Sichuan dish, is crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, and perfectly flavoured. It’s delicious served over rice for a comforting ‘fakeout’ dinner!
I’m obsessed with making crispy tofu! It always makes for an exceptional dinner that’s satisfying and leaves everyone suddenly in love with tofu. Even if they may have been skeptical about it before! One of my favourite tofu varieties? Crispy salt and pepper.
It’s a great option for when you want to cook at home rather than ordering food. And it’s much easier to make than you might think, being ready in just around 15 minutes. Making tofu taste good is definitely possible for everyone!
Crispy salt and pepper tofu
Salt and pepper tofu originates from the Sichuan region of China and is known for its crispy texture paired with a soft and fluffy centre. I love serving it with rice, red chillies and cilantro.
There are many different ways to prepare salt and pepper tofu, and many different varieties. I went for an easier preparation method that’s great for the busy home cook. It’s perfect for a weeknight dinner that’s comforting, and just the sort of thing everyone loved to eat after a busy day!
How to make vegan salt and pepper tofu
Press the tofu
You want to start by pressing the tofu. Wrap it in a kitchen towel and place a heavy object on top. Set aside for 10 minutes. You don’t want to leave it for much longer because this will prevent a soft, silky texture inside the tofu cubes and it may come out dry.
Make the seasoning
Mix together cornstarch, salt and crushed Sichuan peppercorns. You can either buy Sichuan peppercorn powder, or make it yourself using a pestle and mortar. Feel free to also add other spices of your choice, such as paprika or cayenne pepper.
Season the tofu
Cut the tofu either into rectangular slabs or cubes, depending on personal preference. Transfer the cornstarch mixture to a plate or flat surface, and coat the tofu evenly on all sides.
Fry the tofu
Heat either vegan butter or sesame oil in a large frying pan or skillet. Add the tofu slabs in a single layer, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Fry over a medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook for 3-4 minutes more, until evenly crispy and golden brown.
How to serve salt and pepper tofu
I love eating the salt and pepper tofu by itself over a bed of rice with a side of vegetables like cucumber for a refreshing balance.
I would also recommend toasting some red chillies and scallions in sesame oil and then drizzling the chilli-infused oil on top. It makes an amazing finishing touch.
You can also either make a sauce of your choice at home, or use a store-bought dip or sauce. Sweet chilli sauce makes a great option.
Other amazing tofu recipes you’ll love
- My air fryer tofu is super crispy and delicious!
- You can use tofu to make mac and cheese.
- My 'honey' BBQ tofu is perfect for dinner.
- You can't go wrong with miso-glazed tofu steaks.
- Sweet and sour tofu is one of my favorites.
If you give this salt and pepper tofu a go, be sure to tag me on Instagram (@ohmyveggies) and leave your feedback in the comments below together with a star rating!
- Mixing bowl
- Frying pan or skillet
- Wrap it in a kitchen towel and place a heavy object on top. Set aside for 10 minutes.10 oz firm tofu
- Mix together cornstarch, salt and crushed Sichuan peppercorns. Feel free to also add other spices of your choice, such as paprika or cayenne pepper.⅓ cup cornstarch, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp Sichuan peppercorns
- Cut the tofu either into rectangular slabs or cubes, depending on personal preference. Transfer the cornstarch mixture to a plate or flat surface, and coat the tofu evenly on all sides.10 oz firm tofu
- Heat the vegan butter in a large frying pan or skillet. Add the tofu in a single layer, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Fry over a medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook for 3-4 minutes more, until evenly crispy and golden brown.10 oz firm tofu
- To serve, heat the sesame oil in a frying pan or skillet and add the chilli. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then drizzle over the tofu.2 tbsp sesame oil, 1 large red chilli
- Do not press the tofu for too long or use extra firm tofu, because this will lead the tofu being too dry inside.