Really “meaty” Vegan Black Pepper Tofu “Chicken” Steaks–tofu coated in a peppery, slightly sweet, and really savoury sauce served over rice and a side of sautéed vegetables.
HOW TO ENJOY THESE BLACK PEPPER TOFU STEAKS
These pieces of tofu really go well over salads, in wraps, sandwiches, or even as is. I personally love these with steamed rice and some stir-fried vegetables on the side for a really satisfying and filling meal.
PREPARING THE TOFU “CHICKEN” STEAKS
What’s the secret to “meaty” tofu? Freezing!
Freezing tofu creates this amazing meaty texture because tofu itself has little pockets of water in between so when they’re frozen, these pockets expand, creating a coarser and almost meat-like texture when thawed.
SHOULD I SLICE THE TOFU FIRST BEFORE FREEZING?
For me, the answer is yes.
Though I’ve tried freezing a whole block and slicing it after thawing, I find that it’s much harder to do so because the coarseness of the tofu can pose some problems and easily crumble when sliced after freezing.
So I would recommend slicing the tofu BEFORE freezing. This way you will also have thinner slabs of tofu to work with that you can easily just squeeze out the liquid from.
I used 2 blocks of extra firm tofu for this recipe and simply sliced each one into half, to create around 3/4 to 1” thick slabs of tofu.
I placed them on a tray and frozen them overnight (though you can totally freeze these for longer and just defrost them when you’re ready to cook!)
AFTER FREEZING THE TOFU
I thawed my tofu slabs at room temperature before squeezing out the liquid. I simply placed the slabs in between my palms and carefully press. Be careful because the tofu can easily crumble at this point!
BLACK PEPPER SAUCE
I then prepare the sauce which is (of course) peppery, savoury, sweet, and with a kick of spice.
As I always note in my recipes, you can adjust the measurements according to your desired spice and sweetness levels.
COOKING THE TOFU STEAKS
This is a really simple recipe and all you have to do is pan-fry the slabs of tofu with some oil in a pan until golden brown throughout.
If you’re looking to use less oil, you can even opt to bake the air-fry these slabs of tofu before cooking it in the sauce later on.
The sauce will thicken as it cools and beautifully coat the slabs of tofu!
HALVING THE SLABS, OPTIONAL
I also opted to slice the slabs in half to create triangles. Again, it’s totally up to you! You can even cut them into strips if you really want all the edges to be coated in the sauce.
Okay so these veggies are totally optional. I just really like to prepare some veggies on the side with my tofu and also find that it’s a great way to cook them down in the same pan with a little water to deglaze the pan and get in the remaining sauce.
I just used some sliced bell peppers and onion.
You can really opt to use any vegetables of your choice.
ENJOY YOUR BLACK PEPPER TOFU STEAKS!
So here’s the final outcome–served the tofu with some rice and the veggies for a super hearty meal.
OTHER WAYS TO ENJOY THIS BLACK PEPPER TOFU
The tofu is super versatile and also pairs well as topping for your salad, in wraps, fresh spring rolls, or even on pizza! They’re like “chicken” strips and are packed full of flavour.
FIND THE RECIPE FOR THESE TOFU BELOW. Enjoy! 🙂
You can also check out my other vegan tofu recipes here or down below:
- Tofu “Chicken” Teriyaki
- Korean Spicy Braised Tofu
- Fried ‘Chicken’ and Gravy
- Hakka-Style Stuffed Tofu
- Korean Spicy Braised Tofu
- Tofu Katsu
- Cold Silken Tofu with Sweet Chili Sauce
- Tofu Sisig
- Crispy Salt and Pepper Tofu
- Nori-Wrapped Tofu in Spicy Sauce
- Maple Hoisin Tofu
- Orange Tofu
Black Pepper Tofu “Chicken” Steaks
- 1 lb extra firm tofu frozen overnight and thawed (I used 2 blocks)
- Neutral oil for pan-frying
Black Pepper Sauce
- 3 tbsp soy sauce or more to taste
- 1/4 cup room temperature water
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp maple syrup sub with other liquid sweetener or sugar
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar or distilled white vinegar
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tsp sriracha or other hot sauce, adjust according to desired spice
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
Vegetables (totally up to you!)
- 1 small red bell pepper sliced (optional)
- 1 small green bell pepper sliced (optional)
- 1 small onion sliced (optional)
- Steamed rice for serving
Preparing the Tofu
- Slice your block or blocks of tofu into 3/4 to 1-inch thick slabs. Place them on a tray and then leave to freeze at least overnight to harden. No need to press the tofu or squeeze out the liquid before freezing (because you’ll want the water inside the tofu to crystallise and create the amazing texture!)Do note: certain brands and suppliers hold up really well and have a meatier texture while some are more on the spongier side. So it’s also a matter of trial and error and finding which tofu works best.
- After freezing the tofu, leave it to thaw in room temperature until the ice has melted.
- When soft, carefully squeeze out the water from the tofu. I did this by carefully placing a slab of tofu between my palms and flattening it to squeeze out the liquid. The tofu will be very delicate at this point so be careful not to over squeeze it since it can easily break apart. Squeeze out the liquid from the remaining tofu. Set the tofu aside.
- Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl. Feel free to adjust the seasonings depending on your desired taste. Set aside.
Cooking the Tofu
- Heat a large non-stick pan or skillet over high heat. Add some oil to the pan. Once hot, place the slabs of tofu.
- Leave the tofu to cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden brown.
- Lower the heat to medium. Give the sauce a good mix again since the starch tends to sit at the bottom and then add in the sauce to the tofu.
- Once the sauce bubbles, lower the heat and mix well since the sauce will slowly thicken. Leave the tofu to cook in the sauce.
- It’ll absorb the sauce and the sauce will slowly thicken as it cooks down. Be careful not to cook the tofu in too high heat because the sugars from sauce can easily burn. Scoop up some sauce from the base of the pan to pour over the tofu so all sides can be evenly coated.
- Flip over the tofu as needed and leave to cook until sauce has been absorbed by the tofu and has thickened into a glaze. Turn off the heat and then slice the tofu into half, if desired. I just cut them up with kitchen scissors!
Deglazing the Pan & Cooking Veggies
- I prepared some sliced bell peppers and onion to cook down in the sauce. I used the same pan as the tofu and simple added a bit of water to deglaze the pan then before adding some sliced onion and bell pepper.
- I simply sautéed the vegetables until tender and served it along with the tofu.
This Post Has 32 Comments
Made this last night and really enjoyed it! It was quiet easy to make, and the tofu had great flavour and consistency. I appreciated that there was enough sauce to cook the vegetables after the tofu was done. I didn’t have peppers on hand but used onion, mushrooms, carrots, and green beans. The sauce definitely has a spicy kick, so as the recipe suggests, be sure to adjust the sriracha and pepper according to the people at your table.
Hi Mat, so happy you liked it! Thanks so much for leaving a review, I really appreciate it! ◡̈
Love your content!! Keep it up and Happy 23rd birthday ??
Thank you so much! ❤️
Thank you for this
This dish is very easy to prepare and SUPER delicious. Tastes like something I might order at a restaurant but not know how to make (until now!). It is quite spicy for my Canadian standards; some of my friends would likely need to use about half the amount of sriracha listed in the recipe, but luckily I love spicy food, and you did make a note to adjust according to individual preferences. Excited to try more of your recipes!! Thank you!
Hi Maddie! Thanks so much for your feedback, really appreciate it!! And happy you enjoyed these 🙂
Hi, can i just leave out the sriracha sauce if i don’t want it spicy? 🙂 Or would i need to sub something else in? Thanks
Hy Lydia! yes you can 🙂
Hi Lydia! Yes you can leave out the sriracha 🙂
Delish! Very spicy too! I didn’t use oil so mine wasn’t as lovely as your glazed tofu, but still very tasty!!
This is really good, and easy. I scored the top of one side of the tofu (criss cross) as an experiment – recommend trying this, it makes it look soooo appetizing. I’ll totally do this from now on if going for a ‘steak’ style. I found that this recipe was enough for two batches…. I spooned it over the pieces as I flipped them…. This immediately joins my make again file – thank you Jeeca, can’t wait to try your other recipes
This is such a great idea!! Will def need to try next time ◡̈ thank you katherine!!
Made this last night! I really liked the texture of the tofu – it was very easy to make and squeezing the tofu was fun.
The sauce had great subtle spice/heat – did not need any extra seasoning! I served it with brown rice and red bell pepper and mushrooms. Will definitely make this again!
Thanks so much Emily! Happy you liked it ◡̈
I made this tonight and it was sooooo good! My family is sensitive to spicy so I used 1 tsp black pepper and subbed the hot sauce with a pinch of cayenne pepper. It was smoky, peppery (not bitey), slightly sweet, savory, and delicious. I will definitely be making this again!
Hi Leah, glad you liked it!! 🙂
Does this reheat well? Looking for tofu recipes that I can take to work for lunch!
Yes, it does
Made it last night- so easy and packed with flavour! Thank you 😊
Thank you Menaka! ◡̈
I had this whole recipe with purple rice mixed with legumes for today’s lunch and it was SUPER DELICIOUS. I made this recipe oil-free by air-frying my tofu. For vegetables, I used a large red bell pepper and a box of cress to clean my fridge. I will definitely have this recipe more.
Can I ask, why do I need to freeze it and then thaw it? If I skip that step, how would that impact the recipe. I want to make this for dinner tonight and wont have time to freeze the tofu, at least not completely. Maybe 2 hours in the freezer before I need to start cooking. Thanks!!
Hi Milani! Freezing creates a ‘meatier’ texture since the water inside the tofu expands as it freezes so it creates these layers within the tofu. You can skip freezing it but will just have the regular tofu texture. If you don’t mind then it won’t be a problem at all ◡̈
Hi, I made these last night. They turned out so well and my entire family liked them, even the meat eaters. Your pictures were really helpful in making this dish.
Thanks so much Ruth! Glad you all enjoyed these ◡̈
JEECA!! OMG! You may have saved my marriage. Lol I’m a lone vegan in a family of very stubborn omnivores, and I have to do all the cooking. And today, for the first time in my vegan life, my husband approved of a tofu dish. I believe you’ve hit the nail on the head with the freezing technique. We used broccoli and mushrooms for the vegetables, but definitely looking forward to making it again with some other things. This is going into regular rotation with us. Checking out your other recipes, for sure. Thanks so much for sharing this gem of a dish!
Oh wow SO SO HAPPY to hear this!! Thanks so much Jessie, and hope you enjoy the other recipes!! ◡̈
Can this be made without oil?
Hi Maddie! Yes you can opt to pan fry the tofu with no oil. It’ll be best if you use a non-stick pan to be sure the tofu doesn’t stick. ◡̈
Hello! Please share your preferred tofu when a meatier texture is desired. I am going to be making this soon. Thank you!
Hi Leanna! I usually just ope for extra firm tofu – particularly those in vacuum sealed packs with little to no water. I find that they’re the firmest. Not sure if you’re in the US but Nasoya is a good brand when in supermarkets. Or you can also check your local Asian grocery ◡̈