If you love tofu and spicy food, Spicy Thai black pepper and garlic tofu is a perfect dish to serve as a healthy and delicious option. The crispy tofu seasoned with savory sauces makes this stir fry a delightful dish that comes together quickly!
Don't be scared by the spiciness of the dish. The heat level is completely adjustable. Omit the dry peppers and jalapeños completely for a mild version.
Use sweet green or red bell peppers instead for color and texture!
What is Thai garlic pepper tofu?
Thai garlic pepper with tofu (Tao Hoo Gratiem Prik Thai) is a simple but savory stir-fry vegetarian dish using crispy tofu seasoned with black pepper sauce. It's perfect as a stand-alone dish or served with cooked rice.
Why this recipe works
- It's ready to serve in less than 30 minutes
- You can add more vegetables to make it a healthier option
- Use shrimp, chicken, pork, and beef for added protein.
- This recipe's ingredients can be found at your regular grocery stores.
Ingredients for this black pepper tofu recipe
What kind of Tofu for Garlic Pepper Tofu recipe
Choose a firm or extra firm tofu, sliced into large cubes, 1x2 inches. Pre-sliced tofu blocks and fried tofu (pictured below) are great, too, if those are available to you.
See kitchen notes for other tofu options.
- Oil. Use avocado, canola, vegetable, or peanut oil. I used vegetable oil for this recipe.
- Garlic. Sliced the garlic cloves into thin pieces,
- Jalapeños peppers. Sliced small and thin. Seeds removed. Use Serrano or Thai chili peppers for an extra spicy taste. Use green sweet bell peppers to reduce the spiciness.
- Red bell pepper. Sliced into 1-inch pieces.
- Green onions. Sliced into small pieces, ½ inch pieces.
- Sesame seeds. for garnishing
Ingredients for Garlic Pepper Tofu Sauce
- Oyster sauce. The main sauce gives the recipe its savory umami flavor. It's the best thing for stir-frying, in my opinion. (:
- Soy sauce. Use Thai thin soy sauce for this recipe. Sweet soy sauce works, too, but it will give it an extra sweetness if used as a substitute.
- Rice vinegar. Use lime juice or apple cider vinegar as a substitute.
- Sugar. Use palm, coconut, monk, or white and brown sugar. Maple syrup works great for this recipe, too.
- Ground white pepper. Add less for spiciness. Use ground black pepper as a substitute.
- Water. Use unsalted broth or stock to make an extra flavorful sauce. Mushroom and vegetable broth works great for this recipe to keep it vegetarian.
How to make Thai garlic pepper tofu recipe
Step 1. Prepare the tofu. Pat dry with paper towels and squeeze the excess water without breaking the tofu. Slice the tofu pieces into large, thick pieces, 1x2 inch pieces.
Step 2. Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add oil. Once hot, add the tofu and cook until the tofu turns lightly crispy on the edges. 4-5 minutes on each side. Use a tong to flip the tofu.
Transfer the cooked tofu from the pan onto a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
Step 3. While the tofu is cooking, make the sauce by combining soy, oyster, vinegar, sugar, ground pepper, and water. Mix and stir together in a small bowl.
Step 4. Turn the stove to medium heat, and add garlic and jalapeños to the oil from the fried tofu. Add one tablespoon to the pan if there's not enough oil left. Stir and cook for 45 seconds until the garlic turns light brown and fragrant.
Do not let the garlic burn.
Step 5. Add the red bell peppers, stir, and cook for 2-3 minutes until the peppers are lightly tender. If peppers are cooking too fast, add water (1-2 tablespoons) to the pan to keep them from burning.
It also helps tenderize the peppers.
Step 6. Add the sauce and the dry chilis, and leave the chilis whole. Omit the chilis if you don’t want more spiciness. Stir and cook for one minute.
Step 7. Add the tofu and green onions, stir well, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the sesame seeds and turn the heat off. Serve over cooked jasmine rice or a bed of thinly sliced veggies.
That's it! Super easy!
Garnishing options: thinly sliced green onions (spring onions), sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, or more thinly chopped Thai chilis.
Helpful Kitchen Notes
- You can use store-bought press tofu, too, if you are short on time. They are fried tofu cubes with a good texture for this stir-fry recipe.
- They are available at Asian markets in the refrigerated section. They go bad quickly, so use them within two days of buying.
- You can bake your tofu in the oven. Place the tofu cubes on a sprayed baking tray and bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes at 400 degrees.
- You can also air fry your tofu in the air fryer if you have one. Spray the tofu with cooking spray and air fry for 8-10 minutes at 400 degrees or until lightly golden crispy.
- Vegetable options to add to this garlic tofu recipe are. Red onion, bell peppers, red or green bell pepper, baby bok choy, Portello or shiitake mushrooms, pea pods, and broccoli.
Helpful Kitchen Tools
- Large frying pan. Using a large skillet for stir-frying is super helpful.
- Carbon fiber wok.
- Slotted spoon. For transferring tofu from the pan
More Thai recipes you'll love
- Nam Jim Jaeow, a delicious spicy sauce
- Pad mee, stir fry Thai rice noodles
- 5-minute satay sauce
- The best crying tiger
- How to make purple sticky rice
- Rad Na
Yes! This garlic tofu recipe is perfect as a leftover meal for up to 2 days. Heat it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes and serve with white rice.
Tofu in the Thai word is Tao Hoo (เต้าหู้). Tofu is a popular ingredient used in Thai cooking and many other Asian dishes throughout Asia.
There are many ways to cook tofu using different sauces depending on what recipe and flavor profile you are trying to create.
Common sauces used with tofu stir-fry dishes are dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, black pepper sauce, and so much more. Corn or potato starch thickens the sauces in a few tofu recipes, creating a thick and savory dish.
There are myriads of Asian spices to use with tofu dishes. Some are white or crushed black pepper, ground chilis, five spice powder, curry powder, onion, garlic, and paprika.
Any spices you desire to use are a good option, as tofu doesn't have flavors and absorbs whatever ingredients are used to season it.