Friday 8 January 2021

Crispy Salt and Pepper Tofu Recipe

Photo by Cassiano Barletta on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post, this recipe has been provided to me for publishing}

Crispy salt and pepper tofu is an ever-popular Chinese dish that we absolutely love. The contrast between the crispy exterior and super silky interior of perfectly cooked tofu is hard to beat and the subtle, classic flavours of simple salt and pepper is always a winner in our books!

This delicious and easy crispy salt and pepper tofu recipe is an absolute breeze to cook and is on the plate, ready to eat in just 35 minutes (including preparation and cooking time!). 

The crispy outer coating is achieved with a 100% vegan-friendly cornstarch batter that gives an incredible flavour and texture to our favourite ingredient in health-conscious cooking: tofu. We think cornstarch is much nicer than frying tofu with flour and egg (not to mention that without the egg, this recipe is vegan friendly) as it provides a much lighter batter for a firm, crunchy crust that doesn’t overpower the tofu.

We also use white pepper in this recipe, commonly used in Chinese cuisine due to its milder flavour that’s perfect for a delicious yet light crispy salt and pepper tofu dish.

You can garnish your crispy salt and pepper tofu with a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper, some red pepper flakes, and/or a sweet chilli dipping sauce, or eat them fresh out of the frying pan as you prefer.

Serves: 4

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Total time: 35 minutes


  • 18oz firm tofu, drained
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Canola oil (for frying)

For Optional Garnish

  • 2 red chilli peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Squeeze any excess liquid from your tofu by pressing it between two chopping boards with a heavy weight on top or use a tofu press (like this one:
  2. Once all the liquid has been removed from the tofu (approximately 15-20 minutes), slice into 1” cubes and pat lightly with a paper towel.
  3. Add approximately 1” of oil to your frying pan and place on medium-high heat.
  4. While the oil heats, combine your cornstarch, white pepper, and salt in a ziplock bag.
  5. Add the tofu to the ziplock bag, seal, and shake thoroughly until the tofu pieces are evenly coated in starch.
  6. Add the starch-coated tofu to the pan, a handful at a time, and fry, tossing regularly, until each piece is crispy on all sides. The tofu will turn a pale yellow-gold colour (not golden brown, due to the difference between cornstarch and flour) when it’s done, and you will be able to feel the crispy coating.o
  7. Repeat with the rest of the tofu, a handful at a time, until it’s all been fried, keeping the tofu waiting to cook in the ziplock bag.
  8. Once all the tofu is fried, add your chosen garnish and serve on its own or with your choice of sides. 

We love serving these Chinese crispy salt and pepper tofu pieces with a sweet chilli dipping sauce or a splash of soy sauce.

If you like your salt and pepper tofu with a bit of heat, you can add ground Sichuan peppercorn or pepper flakes to the cornstarch. This creates a lovely hint of spice in every bite that the whole family will enjoy.

Photo by Eiliv-Sonas Aceron on Unsplash

How to Prepare Tofu

Whether you’re making Chinese salt and pepper tofu or using tofu cubes in any other dish, it’s vital to prepare the tofu properly to ensure it crisps up and absorbs all the wonderful flavours you’re cooking it in. Generally, if anyone ever tells you they don’t like tofu, it’s simply because they haven’t tasted it when it has been well prepared.

When it comes to cooking tofu, the most important thing to do is ensure it’s been pressed properly before you do anything else. You can use a tofu press or a DIY method for this.

If you don’t have a tofu press, first remove any excess liquid by hand-squeezing it over the sink, then remove the packaging and place the tofu on a chopping board covered with a paper towel. Lay a second chopping board on top of the tofu, then top with heavy items such as cans or thick books so that it presses and releases any excess liquid.

It takes a little longer to press your tofu using a DIY method, but the longer you leave it, the more delicious your cooked tofu will be!

Happy Cooking!

We absolutely love this crispy salt and pepper tofu recipe and know it never fails to impress whether we’re serving it to friends or family. 100% vegan and 100% delicious, you’ll love how quick and easy it is to make this Chinese restaurant-standard dish from the comfort of your own home.

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