In preparation for the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, I tried to cook up everything in my freezer. While my town was blissfully spared any damage, I now have a lot of this Black Pepper Tofu. Fortunately, it’s insanely good. I adapted this recipe very loosely from Israeli-born, London-based chef Yotam Ottolenghi. (And by very loosely, I mean replace 11 tablespoons of butter with one and a splash of olive oil; cut number of scallions from twelve to one, and cut five tablespoons of black pepper to three.) I like spicy food and this was plenty spicy for me. If you want the original recipe, you can find on The Guardian and Epicurious.
Black Pepper Tofu
(Adaped from Yotam Ottolenghi)
1 lb. firm tofu, cut into 1×1 inch cubes
Vegetable oil for frying
Cornstarch to dust the tofu
1 T. butter
3 T. olive oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 t. chile flakes
3 garlic cloves, grated
3 T. chopped fresh ginger
3 T. Indonesian sweet soy sauce (kecap manis, recipe below)
3 T. dark soy sauce
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 T. coarsely crushed black peppercorns (use a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder)
1 scallion, cut into 1 1/4-inch segments
Start with the tofu. Pour enough oil into a large frying pan or wok to come 1/4 inch up the sides and heat. Toss them in some cornstarch and shake off the excess, then add to the hot oil. Fry, turning them over, until they are golden all over and have a thin crust. Once they are cooked, transfer them onto paper towels. (You can do this several hours ahead and refrigerate until ready to use).
Remove the oil and any sediment from the pan, then put in butter and olive and heat. Add the shallot, chiles, garlic and ginger. Sauté on low to medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the ingredients are soft.
Add the soy sauces and shrimp. When shrimp are pink, add the crushed black pepper and tofu and heat until tofu is warm, about one minute. Stir in the scallions. Serve hot over steamed rice.
(Indonesian Sweet Soy Sauce)
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. soy sauce
Combine brown sugar and soy sauce in a small pan. Boil the sauce over low to medium flame until thickens resembling maple syrup. If the mixture starts to boil vigorously and looks like it is going to boil over, remove the pot from the flame until the boiling has calm down and continue to boil over low heat. As the mixture cools down, it will further thicken.
The photo above is from Lottie + Doof