It is currently only the 10th day of 2013, which means that I am still fulfilling most of my New Year’s resolutions. What are some of your New Year’s resolutions? One of my New Year’s resolutions is to eat a healthy dinner every night, instead of something filling but nutritionally unbalanced, like a giant bowl of chocolate ice cream with sprinkles…although that does sound nice. In my defense, my best friend, who is very intelligent, says that if I eat a banana with a bowl of ice cream, the banana will cancel out all the sugar and fat.
This black pepper tofu dish is my idea of a perfect weeknight dinner, since it is easy, quick, and cheap to make. This is my idea of comfort food, and you won’t feel weighed down afterwards. Serve it on top of some jasmine rice with some steamed bok choy, and it makes a wonderfully balanced and flavorful meal. It has a kick from both black pepper and red hot peppers, all smoothed out by the subtle sweetness of garlic, ginger, shallots, and leeks.
I typically crush the black peppercorns and make the sauce with a mortar and pestle. If you do not have a mortar and pestle, I have attempted to make this sauce by crushing the peppercorns with the back of my cleaver, but that ended up with an awful amount of time chasing the peppercorns rolling around the kitchen. If you do not enjoy aerobic exercise while you cook, you can simply grind the peppercorns in a pepper grinder and then mix in the rest of the ingredients.
I just warn you though, this dish is good for every night except for a date night. You will end up with pepper bits all up in your teeth, and your breath will smell like garlic…
Black Pepper Tofu
serves 2-3 | prep time: 15 minutes | cook time: 10 minutes
- 1 package firm tofu
- 3 tablespoons fresh black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup canola/vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 6 slices of fresh ginger
- 1 shallot, minced
- 4 baby leeks, cut into 3″ sections
1. Cut the tofu in blocks, sprinkle salt on the tofu, then let drain on paper towels for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make the sauce! Crush up the black peppercorns into coarse flecks with your mortar and pestle, then mix in the red pepper flakes, minced garlic, canola oil, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar.
3. In a pan or wok over medium high heat, swirl in some canola oil and then sear the tofu in batches until all sides are crispy, or about 2 minutes per side. Set the tofu aside.
4. In the same pan or wok over medium high heat, saute the ginger and minced shallot for 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Throw in the seared tofu, sauce, and baby leeks. Cook for 5 more minutes or until the flavors have blended and the baby leeks are just wilted. Add more soy sauce to taste.
5. Serve over some rice and bok choy and enjoy.