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30 Nov 2020
Black Pepper Tofu with Pork


  • 800g (1.75 lbs) firm tofu
  • Corn starch, to dust the tofu
  • 454g (1 lb) ground pork
  • 3 tbsp sweet soy sauce / kecap manis
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 4 tsp dark soy sauce
  • Safflower [or some other neutral] oil, for frying
  • 65g (~4.5 tbsp) butter
  • 12 small shallots (~350g), peeled and thinly sliced
  • 12 garlic cloves, crushed and then minced
  • 3 tbsp minced ginger
  • 5 tbsp crushed (or very coarsely ground) black peppercorns
  • 16 small, thin scallions, cut into segments 3cm (~1″) long
  • Optional garnish: sliced pickled chilies


  1. Stir the pork in with the soy sauces and set aside.

  2. Cut the tofu into cubes (3cm x 2cm, or about 1″ x 1/2″) and toss them in corn starch, shaking off the excess.

  3. Heat your wok until it starts to smoke and feels like a radiator with your hand held a few inches above the bottom, then pour in enough oil to really coat the bottom in a thin pool. Fry the tofu in batches in the oil, turning the pieces as you go so that they’re golden and crispy on all sides. Once they are golden all around, and have a thin crust, transfer to a paper towel. It’s important to do this in batches, because if you overcrowd your pan the tofu will steam instead of frying and will never develop that wonderful crisp, dried texture.

  4. Clean the oil and tofu bits out of your wok, then throw in the butter. Once the butter melts, add the shallots, garlic and ginger, and stir-fry until it’s all shiny and soft (should take about 15 minutes, but of course your mileage may vary).

  5. Stir in pork once the shallots are soft.

  6. Stir in the black pepper once the pork is pretty much cooked.

  7. Stir in the tofu and keep going for just a minute until it’s thoroughly warmed up and coated in the sauce, then stir in the scallions and remove from heat.

  8. Optionally, serve with sliced pickled chilies and a bit of their pickling liquid (recipe below). I really like the flavor and extra heat these offer. Though seriously, even without the extra pickled chili garnish, it was ridiculously spicy considering that all the heat came from just the black pepper, not chilies of any sort. Really tastily so. Serve with lots of rice.


adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi, mostly by adding way more meat