Ottolenghi’s Black Pepper Tofu
1 3/4 pounds firm tofu (OR 1 lb tofu 1 lb shrimp)
Vegetable oil for frying
Cornstarch to dust the tofu
11 tablespoons butter
12 small shallots (12 ounces in total), thinly sliced
8 fresh red chiles (fairly mild ones), thinly sliced
12 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
3 tablespoons sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
4 teaspoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons coarsely crushed black peppercorns (use a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder)
16 small and thin green onions, cut into 1 1/4-inch segments
Start with the tofu. Pour enough oil into a large frying pan or wok to come 1/4 inch up the sides and heat. Cut the tofu into large cubes, about 1 x 1 inch. Toss them in some cornstarch and shake off the excess, then add to the hot oil. (Youâll need to fry the tofu pieces in a few batches so they donât stew in the pan.) Fry, turning them around as you go, until they are golden all over and have a thin crust. As they are cooked, transfer them onto paper towels. Fry shrimp in same pan, remove to bowl.
Remove the oil and any sediment from the pan, then put the butter inside and melt it. Add the shallots, chiles, garlic and ginger. SautÃ© on low to medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the ingredients have turned shiny and are totally soft. Next, add the soy sauces and sugar and stir, then add the crushed black pepper.
Add the tofu to warm it up in the sauce for about a minute. Finally, stir in the green onions. Serve hot, with steamed rice.