This recipe is a real blast from the past for us. A standby from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest (the original recipe is called Szechwan Tofu Triangles in Triple Pepper Sauce), Jon used to cook this for me when we were going out in college. We stopped making it for a long time, then suddenly felt the urge to try it again. It may not be very authentic, but it’s really pretty tasty. The “triple pepper” refers to the inclusion of bell pepper, hot red pepper, and black pepper, although in our latest version we added a fourth – Sichuan pepper. It adds that peculiar mouth-numbing quality that some of us go for in our stir-fries.
Any sort of sweet pepper will do here, but if you have a mix of colors it makes it particularly pretty.
We always use silken tofu these days – we both prefer the texture, and it’s easy to keep a supply on the shelf without worrying it’s going to go nasty. I find it’s easy to get a good crisp surface on tofu with relatively little oil, as long as you cut the pieces fairly thin and use a wide nonstick pan. The damp tofu spatters like all get-out in the hot oil, though, so a spatter screen is helpful. You’ll probably need to clean the stove afterwards in any case.
- 1 or 2 cakes silken tofu
- peanut oil
- 2 bell peppers, any color – red and yellow are nice
- 4 scallions
- 1/3 cup dry sherry
- 1 ½ cups water
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 ½ tsp dry mustard
- ½ tsp crushed dried red pepper
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- Sichuan pepper to taste (maybe 1/2 tsp?)
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
Put some rice on, you’ll want it done by the time you’re stir-frying. We like brown rice with this.
Cut the tofu into medium triangles or squares. Coat the bottom of a large nonstick pan with peanut oil and put over high heat. When it’s very hot, add the pieces of tofu in a single layer (if they don’t fit, use another pan or do it in batches). Leave them until they turn golden and crisp, then turn and cook the other side. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
Cut the peppers into strips and chop the scallions finely.
Pour the sherry into a measuring cup and top it up with tamari until it reaches the 1/2 cup mark. Combine this mixture with the water, garlic, mustard and various dry peppers. Measure the cornstarch into a separate bowl and whisk the liquid into it.
Heat a spoonful of oil in a wok. Add the peppers and scallions and cook 3-4 minutes, then pour in the sauce and cook 5-8 more minutes until it thickens. Gently stir in the tofu and serve over rice.