Black Pepper Tofu

Black Pepper Tofu

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Ingredients

1 3/4 lbs firm tofu
vegetable oil (for frying tofu), plus 2 tbsp vegetable oil, separated
cornstarch
2 tbsp butter
6 medium shallots, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
6-8 fresh red chiles (we used a mix of cayennes, cherry peppers and fresno chilis), seeded and thinly sliced
12 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
3 tbsp kecap manis
3 tbsp light soy sauce
4 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
3-4 tbsp coarsely ground black peppercorns
16 scallions, green parts only, cut into 1 inch segments

Directions

Start with the tofu.  Pour enough oil into a large frying pan or wok to come 1/4 inch up the sides and heat over medium-high 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.  (You'll need to fry the tofu pieces in a few batches.)  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 a plate (or plates) lined with paper towels.

Remove the oil and any sediment from the pan, then put the butter inside with remaining 2 tbsp oil.  Once the butter is melted, add the shallots, chiles, garlic and ginger.  Saute 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.