Chinese Salt and Pepper Tofu recipe – silky tofu with a crispy coating, tossed in flavourful salt and pepper seasonings and crisp vegetables. One of the most popular Chinese takeaway tofu recipes that everyone loves. Learn how to make it at home with our simple tips and video instructions!
What is your favourite tofu dish? Takeaway salt and chilli tofu is one of my favourite tofu dishes and never had enough of it! I tried making it at home and becomes our family’s favourite. As my little one loves tofu we make mild tofu dishes without chilli fakes for him. You can omit chillies if you are making a kid-friendly or milder version.
If you are love tofu dishes you will definitely love our Spicy Tofu Stir Fry recipe too.
Why you should try this tofu recipe?
- One of the most popular Chinese starter recipe that you can make with simple ingredients.
- Tofu is very light, and loaded with good protein and nutrients.
- Perfect for the days that you don’t want to have meaty meals.
- A very versatile dish that you can customize the vegetables and seasonings according to your preference.
- Super tasty, addictive, plus budget-friendly!
Ingredients you will need
- Tofu: Firm tofu or extra firm tofu is ideal to make crispy fried tofu. You can also use paneer or tempeh ( Indonesian fermented bean curd ) as well.
If you want to have with other protein or vegetables, you can try out our Crispy Salt and Chilli Chicken, and Salt and Pepper Chips recipes.
- Vegetables : Onions, bell peppers, chilli pepper, spring onions are mostly added in salt and pepper recipes. You can add extra stir-fry vegetables like snow peas, shredded carrot, etc.
- Seasoning Spice Mix: To create a simple Chinese salt and pepper powder mix, you will need fine salt, white pepper powder, and Chinese five spices powder as a base. Add a bit of chicken powder if you want to taste exactly like your favourite takeout crispy tofu.
- For Vegetarians add dashi vegetarian seasoning powder, sugar, or msg. But these are optional if you prefer to make it with a base seasoning mix, it’s perfectly fine.
How To Make It
Here are 4 simple steps on how to make salt and pepper tofu perfectly:
- First cut the tofu into medium-size cubes and coat with cornstarch. Toss excess flour out before frying.
- Fry with high-heat vegetable oil for 5-6 minutes until crispy golden brown. Remove from oil and transfer to paper towel or wire rack.
- Stir fry onion, garlic and bell pepper in a large wok or pan. Then follow with the chilli slices, chilli flakes.
- Add fried tofu back in the wok and sprinkle the seasoning powder mix. Toss well to combine everything evenly for 1-2 minutes. Add chopped spring onions, turn off the heat and transfer to serving plate.
- Use neutral flavour oils like sunflower, peanut, grapeseed, canola, or vegetable oil. These oil are best for deep frying and the oil flavour do not overpower the tofu dish.
- If you want to pan fry tofu, use large pan or wok and fry the tofu with medium-high heat. Gently flip with tong or chopstick and fry each side until the coating is cirspy.
- You can make salt and pepper seasoning mix in a big batch and store it in an air-tight jar for later use. Sprinkle it over your deep-fried dishes and stir fry dishes for aromatic Chinese taste and flavour.
- Drain the water out from the tofu packaging and pat dry the tofu block with paper towels and gently press it to remove the excess moisture out. This proccess keeps the tofu coating crispy and less splattering when you deep fry with hot oil.
Frequently Asked Questions
Tofu is made from fermented bean curd and is rich in iron, calcium, and amino acids. Originated in China and one of the staple ingredients in Chinese and Oriental cuisines. There are two different types of tofu, firm tofu and soft tofu. It can be cook on its own and make it fried tofu or add in stir-fries, soups, and curries. A great source of plant-based protein and loved by vegetarians and vegans.
Deep-fried in oil creates the super crips coating. But if you wish you make a healthier version, you can bake or fry the tofu in an air fryer. Spray the coated tofu cubes with cooking oil. Bake or air fry it with pre-heated 350°F( 177° C) oven for 8-10 minutes Or until the coating is crispy. Flip halfway through. Then tossed with the vegetables and seasonings in the large wok or pan.
To make Sichuan-style spicy salt and chilli tofu, you can add crushed Sichuan peppercorns and dry chilli pepper flakes in the seasoning powder mix.
Watch How To Make Recipe Video
How To Serve This Dish
Simply serve with plain rice, Egg Fried Rice Or Noodles. You can also pair it with other dishes like Chinese Beef Noodle Soup, Chicken Fried Rice, or Soy Sauce Chicken Noodles and make it a perfect family dinner.
More Delicious Chinese Appetizer recipes
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Salt and Pepper Tofu Recipe
- 300 g Tofu Firm or Extra firm tofu ( about 8.8 oz )
- ½ Onion ( Cut in slices ) Large sweet or white onion
- ½ Bell Pepper ( Cut in slices )
- 1 Red Chilli ( Cut in slices ) Optional
- 2 Cloves Garlic ( Fine chopped )
- ½ tsp Crushed chilli flakes Optional
- 1 cup Corn starch ( or potato starch )
- Oil for frying Vegetable or neutral flavour oil
Seasoning Powder Mix
- ½ tsp Salt ( Use fine salt )
- ½ tsp White pepper powder ( Or black pepper powder )
- ½ tsp Chinese five spices powder ( See detials in note )
- ½ tsp Chicken Powder Optional ( see details in note )
- Add salt, white pepper powder, Chinese five spices powder and chicken powder in a small mixing bowl. Mix it well and set aside.
- Prepare all the vegetables buy cut the onions, peppers, spring onion and chilli into thin slices. Finely chop the garlic and set aside.
- Drain the water out from the tofu packet, place the tofu block on the few layers of paper towel. Cover with more paper towel and gently press and pat dry it.
- Cut the tofu into half inch cubes. Dredge and coat the tofu cubes in the corn starch and toss the excess flour out before frying.
- To deep fry the tofu cubes, fill the frying pan with vegetable oil over 1". Heat the oil to high heat about 350° F and fry until each side of coating are crispy for 5-6 minutes.
- Remove from oil and transfer to paper towel and set aside.
- In a large wok or pan, heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium heat. Add onion slices and stir for few seconds and follow with the chopped garlic.
- Stir for few seconds and add bell pepper, chilli slices and crush chilli flakes. Place the fried tofu cubes back in, sprinkle the seasoning powder mix. Toss all ingredients evenly for 1-2 minutes.
- Add sliced spring onions and mix well.
- Remove from heat and transfer to serving plate. Serve immediately.
- Tofu – Use firm tofu as soft tofu can breaks easily when you deep fry and tossed again with spices. Important to pat dry the tofu with paper towels to remove the excess water in the tofu.
- Chinese Five Spices Powder – is a powder mixture of cinnamon, star anise, cloves, Sichuan peppercorns, and fennel. You can find it in most Chinese/Oriental grocery stores or Amazon online.
- Chicken Powder – is an optional ingredient. You can add chicken powder if you want to taste your chips like your favourite takeaway shop. Vegetarian seasoning powder, msg, fine caster sugar, or dashi powder can be substituted.
- White Pepper – Recommend to use white pepper powder to taste like authentic Chinese flavour but if you don’t have white pepper in hand, substitute with black pepper powder.
- Servings – You can serve up to 4 persons as a side dish or appetizer and serve 2 persons as a main meal.