Black pepper sauce is a savory and addicting Chinese favorite. In this recipe, cubes of tofu are combined with onions and chilies, pan fried in a garlicky sauce until golden brown, and then tossed in a spicy-sweet soy sauce. Serve over a bed of steamed white rice for a hearty meal.

Tofu in Black Pepper Sauce [Vegan]




Cooking Time




For the Fried Tofu:

  • 1 14-ounce block firm tofu, cut into bite-size cubes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Black Pepper Sauce:

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 of 1 onion, diced
  • 3 red Fresno chilis, remove seeds and diced
  • 1 tablespoon vegan fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Cornstarch solution (1 teaspoon corn starch, plus 1 teaspoon water), mixed well

For the Garnish:

  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced


To Make the Fried Tofu:

  1. Mix together water, garlic, and salt in a mixing bowl. Marinate tofu cubes in this solution for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat, fry tofu cubes until all sides are golden brown. If you prefer to deep fry the tofu, you can do so as well. Set aside.

To Make the Black Pepper Sauce:

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium-high and sauté garlic, onion, and red chilis until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Season with vegan fish sauce, sweet soy sauce, sugar, black pepper, and salt. Mix well.
  3. Pour water, mix well. Once the sauce boils, add corn starch solution to thicken the sauce, cook 1 minute.
  4. Add fried tofu cubes into the sauce. Mix to coat the tofu cubes. Turn off heat, garnish with scallions, and serve with steamed white rice.