Salt and pepper flavourings is an ingenuous way in Cantonese cuisine to make a really humble and yet delicious dish, while retaining the freshness and taste of the meat, tofu or seafood used as ingredients. There are many variations of ingredients used in preparing salt and pepper dishes, namely prawns, pork, chicken, quails, fish and tofu. For my gluten free recipe, I am using firm tofu seasoned with Chinese five spice powder, paprika and corn (maize) starch mixture served with pickled chillies and fragrant garlic oil. Balsamic vinegar is served together with the tofu for extra flavour. This recipe is also vegan, dairy free, egg free and nut free. Check out my other gluten free salt and pepper dishes for prawns, pork and Chinese five spice fried prawns for other variations of salt and pepper dishes.
Cantonese cuisine, also known as Yue cuisine, originated from the Guangdong province in the Southeast region of China. This particular style of Chinese cuisine is the most extensively served in Chinese restaurants all over the world. This is due to the fact that majority of the early Chinese immigrants from China who set up restaurants overseas are mainly from Guangdong. Salt and pepper dishes are also a favourite entrée and often served as finger food at any parties.
Tofu or bean curd and its origin dated all the way back in China for more than 2000 years ago. Tofu is made from soy beans by solidifying soy milk and then compressing the soy bean curds into soft white portions. Tofu is used regularly as a main ingredient in many Chinese and Asian cuisines. The varieties of tofu available for sale are soft, silken, firm or extra firm. Tofu is highly versatile and can be used not only in many savoury dishes but desserts as well. As tofu is made from soy beans which are low-priced and plentiful, but rich in protein, the longstanding popularly known benefit of tofu is that of being the “poor man’s protein”. However, the health benefits of tofu as a meat alternative are now widely known and more people are treating tofu as a crucial source of lean protein especially for vegetarians or vegans.
Tofu is naturally gluten free, it is not only high in protein and low in calories, but an excellent source of calcium, manganese, copper, selenium and phosphorus. Tofu is also a good source of iron, magnesium, zinc, omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin B1 (Thiamine). Tofu also contains isoflavones and has antioxidant properties. There are many health benefits of consuming tofu, namely: decrease risks of cardiovascular diseases; assist in lowering bad LDL cholesterols; reduce risks of breast and prostate cancer; lower risks of type 2 diabetes; treats menopause symptoms; prevent and treat obesity and avert incidents of age-related neurological disorders.
- Rice bran oil for pan frying
- 750 g 26oz/1.65Ib gluten free organic firm tofu, cut into 1½ inch pieces
- Steamed rice to serve
For The Flour Mixture:
- ⅔ cup gluten free corn maize starch
- 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
- ½ teaspoon ground paprika
- 1½ teaspoons salt
For the garlic oil:
- 3 tablespoons rice bran oil
- 5 cloves garlic finely minced
- 2 spring onion shallots, finely sliced
- Pinch of salt
For the Pickled Chillies:
- 2 large fresh long red chillies thinly sliced crosswise
- 2 large fresh long green chillies thinly sliced crosswise
- ⅔ cup gluten free rice wine vinegar
- 1½ tablespoons stevia
For the Dipping Sauce:
- Balsamic vinegar optional
For the pickled chillies:
- Mix and combine well all the ingredients for the pickled chillies in a small bowl. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and set aside in the fridge for at least 1 hour or until ready to serve. Drain the pickled chillies before serving.
For the garlic oil:
- Heat up a small pot with the rice bran oil, pan fry the garlic on low heat until lightly golden, then add in the spring onion (shallots) and pinch of salt and briefly stir-fry for another 1 minute. Turn off the heat and set aside in a small bowl.
For cooking the tofu:
- Heat up a non-stick frying pan with ½ inch of rice bran oil.
- Coat each tofu piece with the flour mixture, shake off any excess flour, and pan-fry for 2 minutes on each side or until lightly golden brown on medium to low heat. Remove from pan drain on kitchen paper towel. Repeat the same process in 2 batches until all the tofu are cooked.
- To serve, drizzle the tofu pieces with the garlic oil and garnish with the drained pickled chillies prepared in step 1.
- Serve with steamed rice.
4 thoughts on “Salt and Pepper Tofu”
This looks really tasty! I need to get back into eating tofu again as I really enjoy it, but not had it in so long.
I am also a tofu lover myself, love them in soups, stir-fry, steamed, fried for different Asian cuisines. Tofu is really so versatile to cook. ????
Yum, this looks lovely. I’ve only recently started to like tofu. It’s one of those things which is easy to ruin or get wrong I think but this looks really tasty!
There are many types of tofu available, if pan frying best to go for firm tofu so that they don’t fall apart. This recipe is full of flavour from spices used and the pickled chillies give an extra zing to the tofu. ☺