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.
These pieces of tofu really go well over salads, in wraps, sandwiches, or even as is!
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 “CHICKEN” 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
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:
- Hakka-Style Stuffed Tofu
- Korean Spicy Braised Tofu
- Tofu Katsu
- Nori-Wrapped Tofu in Spicy Sauce
- Maple Hoisin Tofu
- Orange Tofu
- Pan-Fried Tofu Cakes
- Tofu ‘McNuggets’
Black Pepper Tofu “Chicken” Steaks
- 400 g extra firm tofu frozen overnight and thawed (I used 2 blocks)
- Neutral oil for pan-frying
Black Pepper Sauce
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.