Thai Black Pepper and Garlic Tofu

by on May 21, 2012
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Thai Black Pepper and Garlic Tofu

There’s a new Thai restaurant in town, and the first couple of times I ate there I had mixed feelings. While it was so much better than the other local Thai restaurant, I wasn’t quite satisfied with its take on dishes that I’ve liked in Thai places in other parts of the country. (This is just my opinion–D absolutely loves the place and often eats lunch there without me.) Then one night I was studying the menu with such a worried expression, determined to try something new, that the waitress took pity on me and told me what to order: Black Pepper and Garlic Tofu. After a couple of questions to make sure that there was no fish sauce in it and that it contained vegetables in addition to the tofu, I ordered it and fell in love.

I’m not sure why I love this simple dish–peppery cubes of tofu atop vegetables that have the lightest of sauces–but I do, so much so that I became determined to make it myself at home, with a good bit less fat than the restaurant’s version. Instead of frying the tofu, I bake it; instead of stir-frying the vegetables in oil, I steam-fry them. Steam-frying is a little trickier than frying because it requires frequently covering and uncovering the wok and adding liquid as needed, and if you’re not careful, you can burn, overcook, or under-cook the vegetables. But if you time it just right, you can get the same tender-crisp vegetables as a traditional stir-fry, with a whole lot less fat and fewer calories.
Thai Black Pepper and Garlic Tofu

Thai Black Pepper and Garlic Tofu

Thai Black Pepper and Garlic Tofu

Black pepper provides a different kind of heat than chile peppers, but people who are sensitive to spices may still find this too hot. So start with the lesser amount of black pepper and add more to taste. Those of you who like fiery dishes may want to increase the chile sauce, but try not to overpower the black pepper.
Course Main Course
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 179 kcal
Author Susan Voisin


Tofu and Seasoning

  • 1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 large cloves garlic pressed
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar


  • 1 small onion halved and sliced into thin wedges
  • 1 large bell pepper sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • 3 ounces shiitake mushrooms sliced
  • 8 ounces kale (about 1 bunch) stems removed and leaves thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch asparagus trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • additional broth or water as needed


  • 1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha or other chile sauce or to taste
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch


  1. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch slices. Gently press each slice between paper towels to remove some of the moisture. Then cut each slice into rectangles. Place into a ziplock bag. Combine tofu seasoning in a small bowl and pour over tofu. Seal bag and gently turn it over until tofu is completely covered in seasoning. (You can do this ahead of time and allow the tofu to marinate for a stronger flavor, but it’s not mandatory.)
  2. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet or dish with parchment paper. (A silicon mat will also work, but parchment on a rimmed metal baking sheet yields the crispiest tofu with no sticking.) Place the tofu on the parchment in a single layer along with the marinade. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn gently and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven.
  3. While the tofu is cooking, chop all the vegetables and combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. About 10 minutes before tofu is done, preheat a large, deep non-stick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Spray or rub it with oil if you wish, but this is optional. Have about a half cup of water or broth standing by. Add the onion and cook for a couple of minutes until it begins to become translucent. Add a tablespoon of water or broth if it starts to stick. Add the bell pepper and stir-fry for another minute. Then add the garlic and mushrooms and cook another two minutes, adding liquid by the tablespoon if needed.
  4. Stir in the kale, add about 2 tablespoons of liquid, and cover quickly. After a minute, stir and add liquid if necessary. Cook covered for another minute and then add the asparagus and a little more liquid. Cover and cook until asparagus is tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Add the sauce and cook until it is heated through. Serve the vegetables with tofu on top, or stir the tofu into the vegetables and serve over rice or pasta.

Recipe Notes

Use whatever green vegetables you like instead of the kale and asparagus. Bok choy and broccoli is a delicious combination.

Nutrition Facts
Thai Black Pepper and Garlic Tofu
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 179 Calories from Fat 53
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5.9g 9%
Sodium 496.4mg 21%
Total Carbohydrates 20.1g 7%
Dietary Fiber 5.2g 21%
Sugars 3.7g
Protein 15.5g 31%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Thai Black Pepper and Garlic Tofu: Peppery cubes of tofu top steam-fried vegetables that have the lightest of garlic sauces in this low-fat, vegan Thai tofu dish.

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{ 77 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Somer May 21, 2012 at 2:25 pm

You had me at Thai! Susan that dish is going on my dinner table very soon. Looks amazing!


2 Yadsia @ShopCookMake May 21, 2012 at 2:36 pm

I will definitely try it. I’ve had tofu many times in the past but recently fell in love with it again when I tried BBQ Tofu at Whole Foods. I never drained the tofu before, it definitely makes a huge difference.


3 Aintzane May 21, 2012 at 2:43 pm

I’m reading you from the Basque country. I admire you and I love you. Thank you for your wonderful recipes. Sorry, but my English is very very bad.
A kiss for you from Europe. πŸ™‚


4 Lisa May 21, 2012 at 2:51 pm

This sounds amazing. I am definitely going to try it. I am always looking for new ways to prepare tofu.



5 Emily May 21, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Susan, this looks so wonderful! I don’t think I’ve ever commented before, but I’m a long time reader. I’ve been reading since I was 14, when
I first went vegan for ethical reasons. Your blog has always made healthy vegan eating totally approachable. I’ve been cooking tons of recipes from your blog over the past four years and I’ve loved them all. It also makes Eat-to-live totally approachable. I’m currently following a kind of eat-to-live program to shed the few extra pounds I gained during the past few stressful months of my senior year and I know I’m going to be relying on your blog heavily for the next few weeks. Hopefully I can continue to cook from your site when I go off to college in the fall!

I cannot wait to try this recipe. Thai food and tofu? The best!


6 Healthy Living Val May 21, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Great tip on the steam-frying method. I actually do this with eggs!


7 Shelley May 21, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Yum…I made this for dinner tonight and it was delish! I’ve never baked tofu in the oven and it was chewy and toothsome. I loved the pepper! I didn’t have kale and asparagus so I used shanghai choy and spinach…it wasn’t as beautiful as yours but it tasted good!


8 radioactivegan May 21, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Just reading your description made my mouth water! This one is bookmarked for a day very soon – I’ve never thought of steam-frying, but it sounds so much better than either stir frying or steaming. Thanks!


9 Kalyn May 21, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Sounds like a wonderful recipe and what a gorgeous photo!


10 nicole May 21, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Hi Susan, Would it be ok to substitute another hot sauce in place of the sriracha or chili paste? Those both just have preservatives in them which I avoid.


11 Susan Voisin May 21, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Sure, Nicole, use any hot sauce you like.


12 Lisa May 21, 2012 at 10:05 pm

OMG! I made this tonight, and it was amazing. Check out my blog post about your awesome recipe.



13 Ali @ Project Kale May 22, 2012 at 1:17 pm

This looks amazing! I have never really like tofu, but I do enjoy it with a crisp outer crust. Unfortunately, that’s usually attained by deep frying it – which I would never do. Baking it is a great idea – I can’t wait to try it! Thanks Susan!


14 ewlake May 22, 2012 at 1:49 pm

I made this last night, and it was FANTASTIC. I substituted a tsp of red curry paste for the sirracha, so it wouldn’t be too spicy for my kids. Served the sirracha on the side. Used vegetables I had on hand: broccoli, green beans, red and yellow pepper, carrots, and celery. Served over brown rice, topped with bean sprouts. AWESOME. And I loved that it was oil free!! Thanks so much!


15 Heather May 22, 2012 at 3:44 pm

I made this last night and it was fantastic! The only thing I did a little differently was I did brown the marinated tofu in a frying pan with some sesame oil… but other than that I followed the recipe. I will make this again! Thanks for posting!


16 Sharon Herbitter May 22, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Made this for dinner tonight — hub’s on his second bowl. I made it exactly as you directed except I started the veggies a little bit early and as a result I cooked them just a tad too much — the flavor was still excellent, but I’ll hold off longer next time. Thanks for another wonderful, healthy, vegan recipe!!!


17 urbanvegan May 23, 2012 at 8:59 am

This looks phenomenal, Susan!


18 Jan May 23, 2012 at 9:35 am


Have you tried making your own chili sauce for this? The green Thai was so good, I’m thinking a red sauce out of your kitchen would be equally great!


19 Susan May 23, 2012 at 10:40 am

So delicious! I ate too much, though!


20 Mina May 23, 2012 at 11:08 am

This looks GORGEOUS! Why oh why can my wife not eat tofu?! πŸ™


21 Katherine May 23, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Will be trying this tonight!!


22 Gena May 24, 2012 at 9:19 am

After years of never really liking tofu, I am finding new ways to make it more enjoyable and palatable to me. This is being added to that list! Great recipe.


23 Elizabeth May 24, 2012 at 1:17 pm

If I only have seasoned rice vinegar, would that be an okay substitution?


24 Susan Voisin May 24, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Yes, that will work fine.


25 Julia May 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm

I made this dish yesterday and, oh my God, this tasted fantastic!!! I’m usually not much of a black-pepper-person, but I have to admit that this was just perfect! Thanks so much for the recipe, I’m sure the rest of my family will love it, too!


26 Jan May 24, 2012 at 5:41 pm

This is a keeper for sure! I didn’t have the chili sauce so I just used the remaining marinade for the tofu, added some more pepper and several dashes of tabasco sauce. I also didn’t have kale but I did have spinach and zucchini! So, it was a slight deviation but incredible all the same. Thank you for the recipe!


27 Christina May 25, 2012 at 8:17 pm

mmmm this looks amazing! I love tofu when it’s cooked with an asian spin!


28 Andrea Rouda May 26, 2012 at 11:15 am

Susan: I love your blog. You and your readers might also enjoy seeing my son’s rap video about vegan eating, putting a hip musical spin on making healthy choices!


29 Cat June 5, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Andrea, your son’s song and video is awesome. I just watched it (twice) because of your mention of it here, and I recommend it to everyone. I’ll be sharing it with my friends.


30 Jessica May 26, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Thanks for the recipe! I tried this shortly after my mom made it…she introduced me to your website a few months ago when I decided to switch my diet. It was delicious! Even my 2 year old son ate it lol my other 3 kids wouldnt try it. Definetly going to be a recipe I regularly use πŸ™‚


31 Stacey May 27, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Made this tonight it turned out great except I cant get used to the tofu…next time I plan to substitute beans of some sort and omit the tofu. It looked very appealing so I had to try it and all the veggies were delicious…oh…except I also omitted mushrooms as I am not a fan of these…yes I am very picky!


32 veganlinda May 27, 2012 at 11:36 pm

This looks so good! I can’t wait to try it!


33 Minerva May 28, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Hi Susan,
Love your blog! I recently learned of Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s program, 3 Steps to Incredible Health, so am thrilled to find your website with such wonderful looking recipes!

Would you mind doing a post about your vegan pantry staples? I know I would find the information extremely helpful! Thanks and Happy Blogging!


34 lea May 29, 2012 at 7:25 am

I made this last night and it was delicious! Baking the tofu yielded a really nice firm texture and crisp edges that I find hard to achieve from a skillet. The sauce is light and perfectly balanced. I have found that, for me, the most important aspect of any stir fry is not to overcook the vegetables. I basically added the asparagus and sauce together, then turned off the heat almost immediately to keep everything nice and crisp. Thank you Susan for a yummy and so healthly recipe!


35 Karen May 29, 2012 at 4:48 pm

This recipe looks amazing and I think I have everything in the house I need to make it!!


36 Vegan May 30, 2012 at 8:06 am

Absolutely yummy! I’m going to prepare this one on Saturday. Hope my husband likes it.


37 Martha May 30, 2012 at 8:25 am

Made this last night and loved it!! The sauce is delicious and I loved making tofu in this way. Will definitely be making this again, thanks!


38 Camber Hill May 31, 2012 at 1:13 am

This is one great idea which I must give way to. Thanks for making the instructions so cook friendly. I’ll let you know how my dish wok’s out…sometimes I just can’t help myself.
Here to good eating.


39 Susan May 31, 2012 at 8:14 am

Susan – another winner! Love the chewyness of the tofu! Will definitely keep in my rotation of recipes. Really enjoy your work – thank you!!!


40 Julie May 31, 2012 at 11:05 am

The tofu in this was really amazing. I try to make one of your recipes once a week. The pepper in this one was a bit much for me, but my hubby loved it!


41 Cicada June 1, 2012 at 11:03 pm

This is phenomenal. The sauce has such a deep, interesting flavor. I used a ton of vegetables, so I doubled the sauce, and I’m so glad I did! It’s absolutely delicious. Thank you so much for the recipe!


42 Kathleen June 3, 2012 at 11:25 pm

This is delicious! I will definitely be making this one again! Thanks!


43 MaryNYC June 4, 2012 at 11:44 am

Making this one! ASAP!


44 Christopher Kandrat June 4, 2012 at 10:26 pm

The tofu absorbed the garlic perfectly, along with the kale and pepper, it was so tasty, what a great dish, love it.


45 Laura June 5, 2012 at 8:10 am

Made this last night for the family and it was a hit! I thought my kids might think it a little peppery but they did not say a word. I used my wok to fry/steam my veggies and they were perfect. Thank you for yet another great recipe that will become another family favourite!


46 A Moser June 10, 2012 at 8:01 pm

It’s very good, we’ve made it twice now, but I’ve tried the tofu both ways; on a silicone baking sheet and then separately on parchment: tofu does NOT get crispy in the oven. My only tried and true method is to pan-fry the tofu after it’s tossed in cornstarch.


47 Jem June 7, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Hi. I’m new to tofu and tried frying it yesterday and it started to stick to the pan (I used 1T sesame oil) and fall apart. How do you fry tofu without using too much oil? I haven’t read anything about cornstarch. What I used was the extra-firm tofu and I pressed it for about an hour, turning it and “helping” it a little to get the water out……but I failed anyway! I’d appreciate some help with this. Thank you1


48 Shirataki Noodles June 11, 2012 at 2:15 am

Mouth Watering recipe..looking so yummy !!


49 Mary H. June 11, 2012 at 5:56 pm

I made the whole recipe once (with kale & broccoli- delicious!), but the tofu part is now my favorite! I’ve been making it to eat with salad, chap chae, anything. So good! Thank you for your blog- it’s my go-to place when I need a recipe these days. πŸ™‚


50 Bob July 6, 2012 at 10:53 am
51 Sharon August 23, 2012 at 5:11 pm

We just finished having this for dinner and it was wonderful. I used the full amount of black pepper, but only 1/4 tsp sriracha, and it was just the right amount of spiciness for us. I can see adapting this with many different kinds of veggies–it’s a keeper!


52 Elizabeth August 26, 2012 at 9:53 pm

I made this for dinner tonight. My boyfriend and I loved it – and he usually only eats vegan for me. But we both wanted to make more. Great recipe!


53 lamerman September 13, 2012 at 9:58 pm


Another outstanding recipe – thank you for making me look like such a good cook! I made this tonight (along with Thai pineapple fried rice) and the final result was even better than I expected!

I broke my knee and because my husband has to work during the day I am staying with my parents as I cannot drive anywhere (my leg is locked in a straight cast). I can however stand in the kitchen and prepare meals so I made this for them tonight. Everyone went back for 2nds!

My Mom has adopted my vegan diet since I have been here – about 3 weeks at this point and my Dad has been eating a vegan dinner every day. My Dad is a typical southern man from Texas, raised an omnivore but he even went back for another helping. There were absolutely no leftovers. My husband wants this recipe in regular rotation.

You never fail to amaze me. I don’t know how you come up with these masterpiece recipes but I am so very glad that you do! Thank you for your talent and creativity must most of all thank you for sharing with us!!



54 Susan Voisin September 13, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Thank you so much for the kind words, Leslie. I hope your leg heals quickly!


55 Veganinha December 29, 2012 at 10:55 pm

I’m sure this is delicious, Ill try the lentil wonderful soup first then one day this one.
Thanks for the sheet + metal = crispy tofu chip.


56 krysi January 7, 2013 at 12:52 pm

I am making this tonight for dinner. I have made a resolution to use less fat in my cooking, and I think this recipe will be a hit. I do a lot of Asian style cooking, but have always used a lot of oil while stir – frying. It will be broth from here on out, but I will use a little sesame oil( Since you only need a bit) because I love that flavor! I have you bookmarked now, and cant wait to go through ALL of your recipes! Thanks so much.


57 Leslie January 11, 2013 at 5:39 pm

We just got back from Chiang Mai Thailand & I am going to make your delicious sounding recipe tonight! Can’t wait to try it – sounds great! I will post my results πŸ™‚
If you’d like, I took a cooking class while there & I’d be happy to share a recipe in return for your kind postings. It was a wonderful class & everything was superb. Thank you!


58 Susan Voisin January 11, 2013 at 5:41 pm

I would love to see one of the recipes. Thanks!


59 Layla January 21, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Love this recipe! My first with tofu so I was weary about how it would come out. I didn’t have kale and used green chlli sauce in place of srirachi. The detailed techniques for cooking the tofu and veggies I think are what make the flavors really come together at the end.


60 Sil February 21, 2013 at 5:54 pm

I made this tonight…thank you! DELICIOUS!!!! I didn’t have all the veggies, only kale, red peppers, but still was so good! A keeper…


61 systema March 24, 2013 at 4:01 am

This is my current favourite tofu recipe – passed the recipe on to many people who have said the same.


62 Laura May 22, 2013 at 3:08 pm

I’ve been making a version of this I found in Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty but I really hate deep frying anything. Looking forward to making a baked tofu version. Thanks for making us healthier!


63 Angela May 26, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Ai liked all the vegetables in this, and the idea of coking the tofu in the oven. But I found the flavor rather bland.


64 Lee June 18, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Great recipe. Snapped my variation of this together tonight to great reviews. I particularly appreciate the tips on baking the tofu, as it delivers just the right texture, consistency, etc. Thanks!


65 Brenda October 22, 2013 at 10:08 am

Thanks for another tasty-looking recipe! I want to make this tonight, but I only have frozen tofu. Do you think that would work for this recipe?


66 Susan Voisin October 22, 2013 at 10:25 am

I think it should work fine. Hope you enjoy it!


67 Brenda October 22, 2013 at 7:07 pm

This was another winner, with great flavor! I think the frozen tofu soaked up more of the marinade–I ended up mixing up more. The baked slices ended up nice and crispy on the outside. Thanks!


68 NK January 22, 2014 at 2:38 pm

just cooked this dish for my dinner tonight. it looks and taste awesome. I am ravishing about it all over my chatting groups….lol.
Thanks Susan for numerous such excellent recipes.
I will make tomorrow asparagus pesto with my leftover asparagus!!


69 orthohawk February 20, 2014 at 8:20 pm

I second the post about frozen tofu: it soaks up the marinade like a sponge. You definitely have to make extra marinade. I also browned the outside in some oil; I just added a teaspoon in the second batch of marinade and the next night dumped it into a wok that I had spritzed with olive oil pam till the outside was crispy, then proceeded with the veggies (I only had broccoli, carrots, onion, and asparagus, which actually is my go-to combo for stir frying). I also served it over quinoa (I almost never use rice anymore!). Yummy! Another keeper from FFV!


70 Rossy March 17, 2014 at 8:06 pm

Made it today, simply amazing!! The tofu was nice and crispy.


71 dianne April 2, 2014 at 7:54 pm

I made this for dinner tonight, and my husband, son and I all loved it! There was the right amount of spice, and the tofu had a great texture and flavor, and it was beautiful on the plates. I’m going to grate some ginger into the cooking sauce next time, just to see. And there WILL be a next time!!!


72 Jean Heath May 11, 2014 at 3:51 pm

I have made this lots of times and love it – thank you for the recipe.


73 Jem June 7, 2014 at 11:58 am

Susan, Here’s a really stupid question from a ‘tofu newbie”. You said in the direction to “Place the tofu on the parchment in a single layer along with the marinade”. What does that mean? Do you mean that I should dump the tofu along with all of the marinade onto the parchment paper?!


74 Susan Voisin May 26, 2015 at 1:30 pm

Yes! Just pour it all on the parchment, and arrange the tofu in a single layer. The marinade will boil down and season the tofu.


75 Karen January 28, 2015 at 2:56 pm

I have made this several times and it is always very good. I went to make it for dinner the other night and found that I didn’t have any tofu (life has been rather chaotic lately). There was a 12 ounce package of Surata tempeh though, so I cut that into cubes, marinated it, and baked it according to the directions for the tofu, then followed the rest of the recipe. We liked it better than the tofu version, more substantial seeming and very tasty. Have you made this with tempeh?


76 Jill February 21, 2016 at 8:04 pm

I doubled the recipe but had to substitute a bit on the veggies. Broccoli for asparagus and cremini and white mushrooms for the shiitake. I was also out of greens so I chopped up a zucchini. This is such a great recipe. I love this sauce and I use it pretty frequently for stir fries during the week. It’s always a hit with my friends and I could recite the recipe in my sleep!

I gave my house guest leftovers to eat on the plane on his way home to New York (along with some red grapes and a Lower Fat Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie). :p


77 Gayatri Mantra May 22, 2016 at 10:36 am

That looks amazing!


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