Dinner Tonight: Black Pepper Tofu
Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty is one of the most beautiful cookbooks I've acquired in the last year, and I find myself swooning over its recipes every time I flip it open. It's full of inventive ideas (all of which are vegetarian), one of which I've already covered in this column involving a dressing with orange flower water. And that creativity is no different with this recipe, which drapes crisp tofu in a complex sauce of black pepper, butter, and soy sauce.
That said, it requires some modification (this recipe in particular has been highlighted as an example of one with good ideas, but inexact quantities), which I've adapted in my version, like pan-searing the tofu instead of deep-frying it, using far less butter and keeping the amount of black pepper in check. Regardless, this result is crisp-pillowy tofu and a deeply pungent and spicy sauce, which is also sweet and warming. It's intense, so don't skip on serving it with plenty of white rice.
While the recipe calls for three different kinds of soy sauce (one of which is sweet), the recipe would be nearly as good with just one. Adding some honey or molasses to taste would balance the dish back out.