My Taste Club

MAKE IT: Easy salt and pepper tofu

This addictive salty starter is simple and straightforward, yet is loved by most people who have tried it. While you can make it with chicken or squid, tofu works well as it really absorbs the flavours. It’s so tasty, this vegan dish will satisfy the most carniverous amongst us.

Yes, it’s fried, and yes, there’s a high salt content – but here in the UAE we at least have the excuse of the need for a higher salt intake during the hotter months to stay well! You could always try ‘air frying’ or shallow frying in a zero-fat spray, but in our opinion, you can’t beat deep frying!

This recipe will serve two as a starter – perhaps with some cool fresh salad – or one as a main course, served with vegetables in your favourite sauce, or aside a pho.

Preperation and cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves: 2

Here’s our quick visual guide on how to make it:

1. Chop the scallions, garlic and chilli finely

2. Chop the tofu into chunks

3. Add some of the salt to hot water, then add the tofu

4. Drain the tofu on kitchen paper after soaking in the brine for 15 minutes

5. Fry the tofu in small batches until golden brown, and drain on kitchen towel

6. Mix the remaining salt with the pepper and sugar in a bowl

7. Fry the scallions, garlic and chilli in two tablespoons of the oil, then add the tofu

8. Mix the tofu with the scallions, galric and chilli, then add the salt, pepper and sugar mix

9. Done! Serve immediately.


  • 400-450 grammes firm tofu
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons and 3/4 teaspoon of table salt
  • 3 cups very hot or just-boiled water
  • Canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 or 3 Thai or Serrano chillies, thinly sliced (if desired)
  • 2 large scallions, white and green parts, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • Instructions
  • plate. Serve immediately with rice.


  • 1. Cut the tofu into chunky pieces, each about 2.5cm inch wide and high and 5 cms long.
  • 2. Put the tofu pieces in a shallow bowl. Dissolve the 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt in the water, then pour over the tofu. The tofu should be just covered. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  • 3. Transfer the tofu pieces to a non-terry dishtowel or double layer of paper towel on a plate. Drain for about 15 minutes.
  • 4. Pour oil into a wok, deep skillet, or saucepan, deep enough to cover the tofu pieces when frying. Heat the oil over high heat to 360-370°F. Blot excess from the tofu one last time, then fry in small batches. It should be crisp and golden after about two minutes.
  • 5. Drain the tofu on paper towel. Return the oil to temperature before frying another batch.
  • 6. As the tofu fries, mix together the pepper, sugar, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.
  • 7. When the tofu is fried, let it drain for a few minutes.
  • 8. Meanwhile, pour off all but two tablespoons of the oil from the pan. Reheat over high heat. Then add the garlic, chilli, and scallions. Cook for about 15 seconds, stirring, until fragrant.
  • 9. Add the tofu, then sprinkle in the ground seasonings. Cook for one or two minutes, stirring constantly, to allow the tofu to absorb the flavours. Transfer the mix to a plate. Serve immediately.

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