Magic Garlicky Tofu

An unbelievably delicious tofu stir-fry, made with my easy baked tofu recipe and tossed with the most heavenly garlic black pepper sauce.

Magic Garlicky Tofu, made with the most delicious black pepper garlic sauce.

So named because — as our friends said — this recipe has the power to magically turn anyone into a tofu lover. 

Barclay and I have been tinkering around with this one for the past few months, ever since we had dinner with some friends this summer who served us a version of Ottolenghi’s black pepper tofu.  We instantly fell in love and ate every bite, and and then ran home to try making the recipe ourselves.  (Since, as I mentioned last week, this vegetarian husband of mine loves his tofu.)  But when we looked it up, the recipe called for a bunch of ingredients that we didn’t have on hand and was also quite time-intensive.  So we modified a simpler, speedier version of our own.  And in the months since, we have tweaked and tweaked our recipe until it was just right for us.  And oh my goodness, it is a total winner.

We absolutely love this tofu!

It’s full of bold, savory, garlicky flavors, plus a nice hint of sweetness.  It can be as spicy or as mild as you prefer.  It’s nice and hearty, yet still naturally vegan.  And wow, is it delicious.

I’ve been excited to share this one with you for awhile, so I’m happy that today is finally the day!  Let’s make some tofu!

Baked Tofu

How to make crispy baked tofu.

Magic Garlic Tofu Ingredients:

To make this Magic Garlicky Tofu recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

For the baked tofu:

  • Tofu: One block of tofu, either firm or extra-firm.  I also strongly recommend buying organic tofu, if it’s available.
  • Oil: Olive oil, or whatever your preferred cooking oil may be.
  • Cornstarch: This is the magic ingredient that helps make tofu (as well as many other foods) extra-crispy in the oven.
  • Garlic Powder / Salt / Black Pepper: Just a few simple seasonings.

For the garlicky black pepper sauce:

  • Red onion: Or Ottolenghi used shallots; either will work.
  • Garlic: Yes, this recipe calls for loads of garlic.  Yes, I 100% recommend using it all.
  • Jalapeño: Or Thai bird chiles, whichever kind of chile you happen to have on hand.  I’ve made it with both.
  • Butter or cooking oil: If you’re not making this vegan, I love the extra flavor of the butter.  But if you are going dairy-free, you can substitute vegan butter or your preferred cooking oil.
  • Soy sauce, maple syrup, ginger, cornstarch and water: To form the base for the sauce, thickened slightly with cornstarch.
  • Freshly-ground coarse black pepper: Keywords: freshly-ground and coarse, which makes this recipe extra-delicious.  If you only have the pre-ground fine black pepper that comes in traditional shakers, you will need to use considerably less pepper.  (In that case, start small and add to taste.)
  • Toppings: We love this with lots thinly-sliced green onions and toasted sesame seeds.

Magic Garlicky Tofu Recipe

How To Make Magic Garlicky Tofu:

To make this recipe, simply:

  1. Prep and bake the tofu.  See here for instructions on how to make my crispy baked tofu recipe.  (It’s super easy — just drain, season and bake the tofu until crispy!)  Then while the tofu is draining and baking…
  2. Prep your sauce ingredients.  As in, chop a million cloves of garlic, a small red onion, and a jalapeño (or two).  Then whisk together the base for your sauce (water, soy sauce, maple syrup, black pepper, cornstarch and ground ginger).
  3. Cook the sauce.  Sauté the onion, garlic and jalapeño until they are all nice and soft and fragrant.  Then add in the soy sauce mixture and simmer until thickened.
  4. Toss everything together.  Then add the baked tofu to the sauce and gently toss until combined.  And…
  5. Serve!  Garnished with lots of green onions and toasted sesame seeds, if you’d like.

Black Pepper Garlic Tofu with Roasted Broccoli

Variations:

Want to mix things up?  Feel free to:

  • Make it spicier/milder: As always, feel free to add more/less chiles to make the recipe spicier or milder.
  • Make it sweeter: If you’d like a sweeter sauce, just add in more maple syrup.
  • Add a hint of sesame oil: We also occasionally love adding in a drizzle of toasted sesame oil too, to give this a slightly nuttier taste.
  • Double the sauce: Want a saucier dish?  Just double the amount of water, soy sauce, maple syrup, black pepper, cornstarch, and ground ginger.

Magic Garlic Tofu Recipe

What To Serve With Magic Garlic Tofu:

We like to serve this dish either over rice (white, brown or fried) or sesame noodles.  Then usually add in some roasted or sautéed  veggies (such as broccoli, asparagus, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, etc).  But feel free to serve this however you’d like!  The options are limitless. :)

Enjoy, everyone!

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Magic Garlicky Tofu | Made with baked tofu tossed in the most delicious black pepper garlic sauce.
4.2 from 15 reviews

Magic Garlic Tofu

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

An unbelievably delicious tofu stir-fry, made with my easy baked tofu recipe and tossed with the most heavenly garlic black pepper sauce.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 batch baked tofu
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon freshly-ground coarse* black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 4 tablespoons butter (or vegan butter or oil)
  • 1 small red onion, finely minced (about 2/3 cup)
  • 12 fresh jalapeños (or 2 Thai bird chiles), cored and finely minced
  • 10 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • toppings: thinly-sliced green onions and toasted sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Prepare your baked tofu according to recipe instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, as your baked tofu (above) is draining and later baking, prep all of your ingredients for the black pepper sauce.  In a small bowl, whisk together water, soy sauce, maple syrup, black pepper, cornstarch and ground ginger until combined.  Set aside.
  3. In a large sauté pan, heat the butter (or oil) over medium-high heat until melted.  Add the red onion and jalapeño, and sauté for 4-5 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and sauté for 2 more minutes, or until fragrant, stirring occasionally.
  4. Slowly pour in the soy sauce mixture, and stir until combined.  Continue cooking until the mixture reaches a simmer and then thickens.
  5. Remove pan from heat.  Add in the baked tofu, and toss until it is evenly coated in the sauce.
  6. Serve warm, garnished with lots of toppings as desired.

Notes

*Keywords: coarse and freshly-ground.  If you use the finely-ground black pepper that’s found in typical pepper shakers, you will need to use significantly less pepper here.

Adapted from Ottolenghi’s black pepper tofu recipe.

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29 comments on “Magic Garlicky Tofu”

  1. I’ve been looking forward to this recipe ever since the sneek peek of it last week on your baked tofu post. Like your husband, I love my tofu ;) Anyway, saving this for dinner later this week when my fiancé come back from a work trip!

  2. Yayiee! The wait for this recipe is over! This looks so good Ali. Thank you for sharing this. Trying super soon.

  3. Thank you, Ali.
    Can’t wait to make this.
    So nice that Barclay is vegetarian.
    Thank you so much. Love your recipes and hearing about your exciting life.

  4. Ali, you know I will live this!! BJ Adler

  5. Love the sound of the sauce!! Could I use it with chicken ? Not sure how my family would like the tofu..although I can try it!! your recipes are so tasty!

  6. I love tofu but I’ve never cooked it myself. I’ve kind of been scared to since I didn’t know how it would go but your recipe makes it look so easy! I’m definitely going to give it a shot.
    Neither my husband nor I are vegetarian, but I’m trying to get us to eat healthier and cleaner so thanks for this amazing looking recipe! I can’t wait!

  7. 5 stars
    Thrilled that you’re sharing tofu recipes now! Can’t wait to try this one!

  8. Oh my gosh I’m not a tofu girl but I’d make this with chicken or beef any day of the week! YUM!

  9. wow, have never been so enticed to make a tofu dish as I am with this one, garlic was the clincher, thank you!

  10. 5 stars
    Oh my, I made this recipe yesterday and it is soooo my new favorite dish!!!
    Thanks for sharing another great recipe! I am one of these readers that never leaves a comment, but today I thought: let me tell you how delicious your recipes are!

  11. 5 stars
    Oh wow, I made this yesterday (and also followed the recipe for baked tofu) and it is amazing! My husband wants to try it out on chicken now. The sauce was so easy to make, but so flavorful. Thank you for a great recipe!

  12. 3 stars
    Whoa! WAY too much black pepper for me…it has A LOT of black pepper. Next time I will reduce the pepper on the baked tofu recipe and also on the garlicky tofu. I also used half a jalapeno and that was still too hot, will eliminate next time. I also automatically doubled the sauce, I like the sauce to seep and coat my rice…just a personal preference. But, I would not say this was garlicky, it was all pepper. So, I gave it a 3, maybe 5 when I make more to my taste. Thanks for the great recipe!

  13. 5 stars
    This was gooood. Left out the jalapeno so my kids could eat it (but put some sriracha on mine!). My 10 month old daughter gobbled up the tofu and cried for more each time she finished what was on her tray. Give yourself some extra time for prep between letting the tofu sit before cooking and prepping all the sauce components. Served it with rice and roasted broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. Will definitely make again! Have tried three of your vegetarian recipes in the last 2 weeks and they have all been delish–happy to have found your blog:)

  14. 5 stars
    what fun Great new foods for my kitchen.

  15. 5 stars
    AMAZING! Tasted like take-out and was sooo easy to make!

  16. 4 stars
    I added bok choy and red pepper to mine for more veggies. I might cut the black pepper just a smidge next time, but solid. Really enjoyed it!

  17. Made it, was good but just seemed to miss something and I don’t know what it was.
    I will make it again.

  18. 5 stars
    So my husband and kids (10 & 7) asked what smelled so good when they came in for dinner; I answered “Magic Garlicy Tofu.” They all asked what was magic about it, and I replied I didn’t know. We then proceeded to eat dinner, and now we all know why it’s called magic. HOLY COW, was this delicious!!! Served it with rice and roasted veggies. Yum, yum, YUM!

  19. 3 stars
    Our first attempt wasn’t so successful. I think I may have over-pressed the tofu, which was extra firm. The result was that the cubes were quite hard on the outside.

  20. Does anyone who has made this know if it makes good leftovers? I was thinking of using it for meal prepping lunches for the week.

  21. 1 star
    It’s an ok recipe, but not worth the effort involved.

  22. 5 stars
    This is going into the rotation! The best tofu dish I’ve ever cooked – thank you!!

  23. Are the 4 tablespoons of oil just for sautéing the onion etc? Or does it contribute to the sauce? Can I make this without the oil and maybe sub vegetable broth to sauté?

  24. This is really delicious! I haven’t had tofu in years but decided to start eating it again. What a great recipe to start off with. I did cut the black pepper to 1 teaspoon and that was perfect for me. The Baked Tofu recipe was very nice as well. I could just snack on those but sure glad I went the next step and made the sauce.

  25. 3 stars
    You must have made a mistake with the pepper,I couldn’t taste the garlic it was so peppery. My mouth was on fire and I only put 2 tsp of it. I think I will try it again with only half a teaspoon to 1 tsp. of pepper. As for the jalapeno, I only used about a half inch piece and it was just enough.

    • Did you by chance use regular (fine-ground) table pepper? If so, that would definitely be too peppery. I created the recipe for freshly-ground coarse pepper, so maybe that was the game-changer?

  26. 5 stars
    I make tofu all the time and this recipe was bomb! Doubled the sauce and used 3/4th of it. My husband love it as well.

  27. 4 stars
    I mixed green beans and oriental mushrooms (oyster, shitake and portabella) for more meatiness. These combined with the baked tofu gave it a great texture. I seasoned the tofu with salt & pepper, garlic powder and Trade Joe’s Umami seasoning. I followed the sauce directions exactly. The sauce was way too intense & salty – next time I will cut back on the soy sauce and not season the tofu with anything else.