Soy & Szechuan Pepper Tofu w/ Wasabi Pea Puree

This vegetarian dish is an obvious play on that beer time favourite snack, salt and pepper squid. I never tried the seafood version before I became a vegetarian but I love the idea of a salty and peppery crumb deep fried to delicious perfect crispness and served with a simple salad of crunchy greens and herbs.

Tofu is the obvious substitute here for a vegetarian version as it deep fries perfectly and allows the soy and lemon to add flavour. I am looking forward to trying this delicious crumb recipe out on a few other ingredients now too; like sweet potato and recently I saw a few recipes for deep fried crumbed avocado so um, yes please!

I used store brought rice crumbs which are egg, dairy and gluten free and add a lovely crunch to the tofu. These should be available in the health/gluten free section of your supermarket or at any good health food store. The Szechuan pepper really makes this vegetarian recipe something special with its beautiful aromatic flavour. Again you should be able to find Szechuan pepper in the spice section of your supermarket or at any Asian grocery store.

We served these delicious little crispy strips of deep fried tofu with a sweet wasabi pea mash which is super simple to prepare and adds a lovely contrast to the dish. To complement the overall meal we added a small side salad of baby Asian greens, bean sprouts and torn fresh coriander, so good! Enjoy this tasty tofu recipe as a light main meal or served up to family and friends as an afternoon snack or appetizer when entertaining.

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Preparation time: 45mins // Serves 4-6
Soy & Szechuan Pepper Tofu

  • 500g (1lb) firm organic tofu
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 3 tsp Szechuan pepper corns, freshly ground
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • ¼ tsp sea salt flakes
  • ½ cup rice crumbs (we used Orgran brand All Purpose Rice Crumbs)
  • 1 tsp corn flour (cornstarch)
  • rice bran or peanut oil for deep frying

Wasabi Pea Puree

  • 2½ cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1-1½ tsp wasabi (to taste)

Salad Plate

  • 2 cups baby Asian greens (or any small crisp lettuce leaves)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 cup fresh coriander (cilantro) roughly torn
  • 1-2 red chillies, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • ½ lemon, juice
  • 2 tsp sesame oil

To prepare the tofu slice it into approximately 1cm (1/4 inch) x 2cm (3/4 inch) strips and toss with the lemon juice and soy sauce in a shallow bowl. Allow to sit while you prepare the remainder of the dish.

Prepare the wasabi pea puree by adding the peas and water to a frying pan. Allow the peas to gently simmer over a low heat for 5 minutes until tender and bright green. Remove from the heat and using a fork or stick blender puree the peas until smooth adding the wasabi to taste. Set aside and keep warm.

To make the salad plate toss all the ingredients together with the lemon juice and sesame oil, arrange on small separate plates per person or on one large plate for the centre of the table.

Prepare the rice crumbs by combing well with the Szechuan pepper, white pepper and salt flakes. Remove the tofu from the lemon juice and soy (reserving this) and pat dry with absorbent paper.

Combine the corn flour (cornstarch) with the reserved lemon juice and soy, whisking until smooth.

In a medium sized deep saucepan heat at least 15cm (6 inch) of oil over a medium heat until the surface begins to shimmer.

To deep fry the tofu working with one piece at a time dunk it into the cornflour mixture and then into the rice crumbs pressing and patting the crumbs to coat the tofu evenly.

In small batches deep fry the crumbed tofu for 1 minute until it is crisp and golden, remove from the oil and drain on absorbent paper. Fry only a few pieces of the crumbed tofu at a time to avoid over crowding the oil and to allow the tofu to cook quickly.

Serve the crumbed tofu sprinkled with a little extra salt flakes and few cracks of pepper and wedges of lemon. Accompany with the wasabi pea puree and crunchy side salad for a completely delicious snack or light vegetarian meal.

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