For the past year or so I’ve felt that I’ve really lost my ‘kitchen mojo–’ that certain energy that inspires me to create new recipes, mix up old flavors, and just generally be excited about food creation.
Sure, I still cook almost entirely from scratch, and eat homemade food for almost every meal, but I’m not INSPIRED about doing so. This means I eat repeating versions of my favorite tofu dish or favorite stir-fry with my favorite version of coconut rice. However, I also believe that our energy and direction and mindset are directly intertwined, so I’m just going to STOP saying things like “I lost my kitchen mojo.” Instead, I’m just going to celebrate the little wins that make my little chef heart happy – like realizing that I created five new recipes (!) within one month (a quick breadfruit curry, a Pumpkin Spice Chia Bowl, this Pumpkin Coconut Curry, and a Spicy Sesame Turmeric Ramen!)
And I created this recipe for Black Pepper Tofu is loosely based on what I remember most Chinese-style tofu dishes to be: a really dark, glossy sauce, served over perfectly cooked vegetables and the aforementioned coconut rice. The sauce is generally open to interpretation – feel free to add a little fresh ginger, more or less garlic, maybe some chili flakes, but it’s also pretty dang good on its own. Don’t be worried about the huge amount of Bragg’s or soy sauce – it’s balanced with water and the other flavors, so isn’t overly salty. And note that the base too, is interchangeable, although I think ounce-for-ounce Bragg’s Liquid Aminos is less expensive than soy sauce, so it’s a good option for recipes where you need a lot, like in this recipe.
I hope you enjoy this vegan and gluten-free Chinese-style stir-fry for quick weeknight dinners!
Black Pepper Tofu with Vegetables
Black Pepper Sauce
½ cup Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (substitute soy sauce or Coconut Aminos)
2 Tablespoons olive oil (or avocado oil)
2 Tablespoons maple syrup, agave or honey
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon starch (potato, corn, tapioca, whatever you have)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried minced garlic or garlic powder (sub fresh grated ginger or garlic, too!)
Tofu and Vegetables
1, 10-ounce block super-high protein tofu (click here to see the only one I recommend)
2 Tablespoons avocado oil + more as needed
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
2 cups finely chopped broccoli
2 cups fresh greens (spinach, kale, cilantro, etc.) (optional)
To make the Black Pepper Sauce:
- Whisk together all ingredients in a small mixing bowl, ensuring that starch is totally dissolved.
- Warm over medium-low heat in a saucepan or deep skillet, whisking continuously until sauce thickens.
- Once thickened, turn off heat and set aside.
To make the Tofu and Vegetables
For this recipe (and so many others) I prefer to use a cast iron skillet – read here why I like cast iron so much and why it makes cooking so much better!
- Chop tofu into slices, cubes, or triangles – whatever shape you’d like.
- To a skillet add the avocado oil and warm over medium heat. Once warm, add tofu, and cook until browned on the bottom. Flip, and cook until second side is browned. Remove from skillet and add into Black Pepper Sauce, tossing to coat.
- Add onions to skillet, adding another Tablespoon of oil if needed (I like to use a lot of oil). Cook until just starting to brown, then add carrots and broccoli. I like my broccoli really well-cooked, so usually about 10 minutes for me – if you like a little more crunch, it’s probably good at five minutes. Turn off heat, then toss in the cilantro, and stir to combine.
- How to Serve: I like to build my bowl with rice, veggies, and saucy tofu atop, adding extra sauce as a garnish. If you’re serving immediately you can toss all the veggies and saucy tofu together, but if saving for later, best to keep it separate as the vinegar will make the green broccoli look a bit yuck (but still taste fine!) if you’re serving as leftovers.