Steamed Tofu with Soy, Chillies & Sichuan Pepper

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You don’t have to be a vegetarian to love tofu. In fact, I think I like it more than meat … Salt & Pepper Tofu is one of my favourite dishes ever, especially when it is fresh and piping hot. At other times, you will often find me adding tofu to most Asian soups and stir-fries. Recently, I started experimenting with recipes for steamed tofu and I love how it can be such a simple, yet satisfying, dish on its own.

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There are many different types of tofu available, ranging from firm, fried, marinated to silken and extra soft. For this particular recipe, you will need silken tofu, which is usually sold in small plastic containers and is very soft in texture. Silken tofu is often used in soups (such as Japanese miso soup), and I also like to use it for deep-frying to achieve a nice contrast in textures between the smooth interior and crispy coating.

When steamed, silken tofu will firm up a little and should wobble on a plate like panna cotta, but it will still remain silky smooth throughout.

Tofu in its natural state is very bland, but this makes it the perfect vehicle for carrying other flavours. Here, the tofu is dressed with a spicy and savoury sauce, and sprinkled with Sichuan pepper for some tongue-numbing spiciness. Served with plain steamed rice, it’s comfort in a bowl.

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Steamed Tofu with Soy, Chillies & Sichuan Pepper
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: Serves 2 as a main dish
Ingredients
  • 1 packet of silken tofu (about 300 g)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 2-3 teaspoons Chinkiang black vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 3 tablespoons chilli oil
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1-2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns, toasted and finely ground in a mortar & pestle
  • coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
  • spring onions (scallions) or chives, finely sliced
Method
  1. Bring a pot of water to the boil and place a properly fitted metal or bamboo steamer on top.
  2. Most brands of silken tofu are sold in small plastic containers with a plastic cover. Remove the plastic cover.
  3. Choose a plate which will fit into the steamer and which you will use for serving the tofu later. As you will be pouring a sauce over the tofu later, it is best to choose a plate with a lip or even a shallow bowl (like in the photos).
  4. Carefully invert the plastic container of silken tofu onto the plate. If the tofu doesn't slide out of the plastic container right away, gently squeeze the sides of the container to encourage the tofu to loosen. Sometimes, I find that leaving the inverted plastic container of silken tofu on the plate for 5-10 minutes helps the tofu come to room temperature and naturally slide out of its container onto the plate below.
  5. Place the plate with the silken tofu into the steamer, and steam it over medium heat for about 15 minutes.
  6. During this time, place the oil and garlic into a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the garlic smells fragrant, add the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, black vinegar, sugar, chilli oil and oyster sauce. Let the sauce come to a gentle simmer.
  7. Once the tofu is cooked, gently remove the plate from the steamer. Use a spoon to remove any liquid on the plate.
  8. Carefully spoon the sauce over the tofu. Sprinkle with Sichuan pepper (how much is up to you), and garnish with the coriander (cilantro) and spring onions.
  9. Serve while still hot with steamed rice.

Share your photos!

If you have tried this recipe, I would love to hear how it turned out! Please leave a comment below and share your photos on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using #eatlittlebird

6 Comments

  1. Beeta @ Mon Petit Four 21 June 2016

    Wow! This is the most gorgeous tofu I have ever seen! And I love that you made it hot and spicy 😉

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 21 June 2016

      Hi Beeta,
      Oh thank you!! Yes, it’s not easy to make tofu look good, which is probably another reason why I love this dish 😉

      Reply
  2. How wonderfully delicious this looks Thanh! I am also coveting your gorgeous little copper pan! <3 x

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 21 June 2016

      Hi Louise,
      Thank you! I have a few little copper pans for melting butter and making itty bitty portions of sauce like in this recipe. My friends laugh when they see them but they are actually very useful and I use them quite often 🙂

      Reply
  3. Patrice 31 January 2017

    I am eating this tofu as I write this comment. It is a delicious recipe and it’s very easy to make. It’s very spicy to. I love it. I will try it again later this week but this time I think I will add maybe 2-3 table spoon of ground pork to the sauce, just for texture.

    Thanks for this fantastic recipe.

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 31 January 2017

      Oh, that’s great to hear that you have tried this recipe! I’m so happy you enjoyed it. And it’s funny that you mention adding ground pork to the sauce … I think this dish tastes a lot like Ma Po Tofu, a classic Sichuan dish which contains silken tofu, lots of sichuan pepper and ground pork! So I’m sure it would taste fantastic with the addition of ground pork.

      Reply

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