I consider the salt and pepper tofu from Northwest Tofu in Seattle the best tofu I've had in the Western hemisphere and tried to recreate it at home. It's a simple enough dish—tofu dusted with starch, salt, and pepper, and then deep fried—but that description barely does it justice. The crust is super thin and light, but full of crispy texture and perfectly seasoned. The tofu itself is so soft and custardy it pretty much melts in your mouth. —Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy
Test Kitchen Notes
Delicious, versatile, and perfect for a quick weeknight meal! From start to finish it took about 20 minutes, and it will become a go-to. It's also a great base recipe, and I can see tossing in some other flavors (paprika, turmeric, dried chilies, nutritional yeast) to mix it up or enhance a meal. The only downside (as happens with anything breaded) is the moisture and sticking. Keep a towel nearby to dry your fingers as you toss the tofu to prevent clumping! —Maria
Sichuan or black peppercorns, finely ground
Oil, for frying
Pat the tofu dry with paper towels. Cut into 1-inch cubes.
Mix together the cornstarch, salt, and ground pepper. Pour enough oil into a saucepan to reach 1-inch depth and heat over medium high. The oil is ready for frying when it reaches 350°F or bubbles start to form when you dip a wooden utensil in the oil.
Working in small batches, carefully coat the tofu cubes in a thin layer of the cornstarch mixture—the thinner the better. Fry the tofu, turning after a minute or so, until all sides are a pale, golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and let drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.