That Spicy Chick

Braised Tofu & Mushrooms in Black Pepper Sauce

This Braised Tofu & Mushrooms in Black Pepper Sauce is quick & easy to make, loaded with umami, and super tasty over a bowl of steamed rice! Perfect for easy weeknight dinners and meatless Mondays!

black pepper sauce tofu with mushrooms in oval dish with spring onion and chopped red chilies garnish. Rice bowl and spring onion in small bowls in the back

It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for Asian style black pepper sauce.

But I have some requirements for my ideal black pepper sauce. It has to have just the right amount of peppery-ness to it. But it shouldn’t be too peppery because that can make it taste bitter. And it has to have the perfect amount of sweetness. But it should not be too sweet because I still want it to retain a spicy kick!

A few months ago, I posted my Stir-fried Pork Sukiyaki in Black Pepper Sauce recipe. It truly is one of my all-time favorites and go-to dinner recipes for busy weeknights! Hence, I decided to create a vegetarian recipe using the same sauce (but with different measurements for the ingredients) so that all my veg people can enjoy its deliciousness too! 😉

This Braised Tofu & Mushrooms in Black Pepper Sauce is guaranteed to please carnivores and vegetarians/vegans alike, and it’s made with the ultimate tastiest and BEST black pepper sauce ever!

White oval dish with tofu and mushrooms in black pepper sauce garnished with spring onion greens and chopped red chilies

HERE’S WHY YOU SHOULD MAKE THIS BRAISED TOFU & MUSHROOMS IN BLACK PEPPER SAUCE:

  • It’s simple, easy, and quick. You know those days where you’re completely exhausted from work and want dinner on table quick? But you don’t want to deal with anything too high maintenance? Yeah, those days are Thursdays for me. However, this dish is super easy and doesn’t take much effort! Just put on a pot of rice when you start cooking and you’ll have have your better-than-takeout dinner ready in just 35 minutes! <– (That’s inclusive of prep time too, ya’ll!)
  • It’s made with everyday ingredients and all you probably need to grab from the store on your way home is a block of tofu and some mushrooms!
  • The spicy and extremely delicious sauce is downright irresistible over a bowl of steamed rice! Thanks to soy sauce, oyster sauce, and Asian mushrooms, every bite is completely bursting with umami!
  • Perfect for meatless Mondays and/or if you’re trying to cut down on meat.
  • In this recipe, the tofu is pan-fried first, and then braised it for a brief amount of time in the black pepper sauce. And this makes the perfectly chewy and slightly crisp tofu cubes to die for!! Bonus? Since tofu is a good source protein, you’ll be getting a good amount of it!
close up of black pepper sauce tofu cubes and mushrooms with spring onion and red chilies garnish

Let’s get down to business and walk through how to make this delicious and easy weeknight dinner!

HOW TO MAKE THIS BRAISED TOFU & MUSHROOMS IN BLACK PEPPER SAUCE

black pepper sauce tofu cubes and mushrooms on spoon

INGREDIENTS YOU WILL NEED

  • Onion & Garlic: You’ll need 9-10 minced garlic cloves and 1 medium finely chopped yellow onion.
  • Red Chilies: I like to use bird’s eye red chilies. Use as many or as few as you like, and feel free to deseed them if you prefer less heat. (Or you can nix them all together if desired).
  • Spring Onions (Scallions): Chop them up small.
  • Mushrooms: 6 or 7 small to medium sized brown Asian mushrooms will be needed. But if that’s not easily accessible to you, portabella, cremini, or brown button mushrooms will work just fine. To be honest, I think any variety of mushrooms can work in this recipe. Slice the meaty part for this dish and discard the stubs (or save them for a later date to make some veggie stock.).
  • Tofu: You’ll need 1 firm tofu block (approximately 350g). You can buy this in packages at your local supermarket, or your local wet market, or in your city’s Chinatown depending on where you live.
  • Sauces: Low sodium soy sauce, rice vinegar (or regular white vinegar), and vegetarian mushroom flavored oyster sauce. Or if you don’t need to make this 100% vegetarian/vegan, feel free to use regular oyster sauce if you have that on hand instead.
  • Black Pepper: 1 and ½ whopping FULL tablespoons of freshly cracked black pepper for the sauce! This is BLACK PEPPER sauce after all, right?! 😉 I recommend using freshly cracked black pepper for the best taste and flavor. Regular coarse ground black pepper will work too if you’re short on time. But it will be less flavorful than freshly cracked pepper. Moreover, it simply won’t do this mouthwatering and epic sauce justice! So do yourself a favor and just crack some. 😉 In addition, you’ll need a bit of pepper to season the tofu before pan-frying it.
  • Kosher Salt: This is also for seasoning the tofu.
  • Brown Sugar: We’ll be adding some brown sugar to balance out the heat from the chilies and black pepper. (Plus, the oyster sauce also will help to balance out the heat.)
  • Corn starch slurry: Make this by mixing a cup of water with 2 teaspoons of corn starch in either a bowl or measuring cup. I prefer the latter because it makes it easier to pour into the wok. By the way, make sure to give the corn starch slurry a quick stir with a spoon before you add it to the wok. (The corn starch will have jammed up at the bottom of the bowl/measuring cup by the time you need to add the slurry.)
  • Oils (for cooking and flavoring): Olive oil (or any other cooking oil), a teaspoon of chili oil (optional – omit if you prefer less heat), and always super fragrant and my favorite – sesame oil!
  • Steamed White Rice: Or brown rice or quinoa (for serving).
tofu in black pepper sauce on plate with rice and another plate of tofu and rice in the back

Prep:

  1. Chop the fresh ingredients: First, prepare all your fresh ingredients. Chop up the onion, garlic, red chilies, and spring onions. Soak the mushrooms in lukewarm water for a couple of minutes. Then rinse, and chop off and discard the stubs. Slice the meaty part and set it aside.
  2. Prep the tofu: For the tofu, drain the water from the package and pat the block dry with paper towels. Then cut the tofu into 1-1.5cm cubes.
  3. Cook the Tofu: Next, heat olive oil a large nonstick skillet or fry-pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the tofu cubes. Allow to cook for at least 1 minute without touching them. Then, gently shake the pan by the handle to make the tofu shift its position. You’ll see that the bottom will have browned slightly. Season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste, and use a spatula to flip the tofu. Brown the tofu cubes on all sides and cook for about 10-12 minutes. Then set them aside. (You can leave them in the pan and add them directly to the wok with the Black Pepper Sauce.)
Nonstick black skillet with pan-fried tofu cubes

For the Braised Tofu & Mushrooms in Black Pepper Sauce:

Now that you’ve got all the prep work out of the way, it’s time to get cooking and get dinner on the table pronto!

  1. Heat olive oil, a bit of sesame oil, and chili oil (if using) over medium-high heat in the wok.
  2. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté until translucent.  
  3. Next, add the red chilies and garlic and continue sautéing for a minute to combine with the onion. Then add the mushrooms and sauté for a couple of minutes until they have softened.
  4. Then, pour in the sauces – the low sodium soy sauce, rice vinegar, and vegetarian mushroom flavored oyster sauce. Give everything a good stir.
  5. Then turn down the heat and stir in the seasonings – the freshly cracked black pepper and brown sugar for some sweetness.
  6. Next, toss in the spring onion and stir to combine. Give the corn starch slurry a quick stir with a spoon (to loosen up the corn starch) and pour it into the wok. Stir and allow to simmer for a minute or two until the sauce has darkened and thickened.
  7. Now for the star ingredient – the tofu! Add the pan-fried tofu cubes into the wok and gently fold them into the sauce to combine. Cook for 2-3 minutes while stirring occasionally.
  8. Once everything looks and smells lovely (and your mouth starts to water!), turn off the heat and transfer to a serving dish. Serve this tasty Braised Tofu & Mushrooms in Black Pepper Sauce with some warm steamed white rice and a side of stir-fried veggies if you like!

See! I told you it was pretty darn simple and straightforward, right?! 😉

tofu in black pepper sauce on plate with rice and spoon

IS THIS VEGAN?

Yes! Tofu is made from soy milk and is naturally vegan. However, some varieties that are pre-spiced and seasoned may not be entirely vegan or gluten-free. As always, I recommend checking the ingredients label before you purchase anything at the supermarket, especially if you have specific dietary needs. But the firm tofu needed for this recipe will be vegan.

CAN I MAKE THIS GLUTEN-FREE?

Yes – you 100% can! Use tamari in place of the soy sauce (or gluten-free soy sauce – I like Kikkoman’s). In addition, be sure to use a gluten-free oyster sauce.

To make this vegetarian/vegan AND gluten-free, I suggest using a gluten-free vegetarian oyster sauce. Please do note that I haven’t personally tried any variety of gluten-free oyster sauce yet, as I don’t need to or always follow a gluten-free diet. But if you do try them, let me know in the comments how it turns out!

black pepper sauce tofu with spring onion garnish on plate with rice and spoon and

I NEED MEAT! CAN I SUBSTITUTE WITH CHICKEN, PORK, BEEF, OR SHRIMP, ETC.!?

Yes, you certainly can! Check out my Stir-fried Pork Sukiyaki in Black Pepper Sauce recipe! It’s basically the same sauce I use for this recipe. However, it’s made with different measurements for some of the ingredients. Also, that version is a stir-fry so the black pepper sauce is less thick.

So far I’ve made: sliced pork collar, beef slices, shrimp, and pan-grilled cornstarch dusted chicken thighs diced into cubes in the same stir-fry sauce for the Stir-fried Pork Sukiyaki in Black Pepper Sauce. They all are legit tasty options, so take your pick my dear carnivore! 😉

And if you are simply just looking for a black pepper sauce tofu stir-fry, you can pan-fry the tofu as indicated in this recipe, but stir-fry it in the black pepper sauce for the pork recipe.

Two diagonally placed navy blue bowls with a white flower pattern filled with steamed rice and Stir-Fried Pork Sukiyaki in Black Pepper Sauce on top. Full dish in the back left.

Guys, this Braised Tofu & Mushrooms in Black Pepper Sauce is one of my all-time favorite easy vegetarian recipes! And I think you and even the carnivores in your family will love this!

Enjoy, my friends! 🤗

Tofu cubes on spoon with black pepper sauce and sliced asian mushrooms. Tofu with black pepper sauce in white oval dish

MORE EASY ASIAN WEEKNIGHT RECIPES

Print
White oval dish with tofu and mushrooms in black pepper sauce garnished with spring onion greens and chopped red chilies

Braised Tofu & Mushrooms in Black Pepper Sauce

This Braised Tofu & Mushrooms in Black Pepper Sauce is quick & easy to make, loaded with umami, and super tasty over a bowl of steamed rice! Perfect for easy weeknight dinners and meatless Mondays!

  • Author: Lavina
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Vegetarian/Vegan
  • Method: Braised
  • Cuisine: Chinese
Scale

Ingredients

  • 910 Garlic cloves
  • 512 Red Chilies, to taste and deseeded depending on desired heat level – chopped
  • 2 Spring Onions (Scallions) – chopped small
  • 150g/6-7 Black Asian Mushrooms – soaked in lukewarm water, stubs discarded, and meaty part thinly sliced (I used Taiwan Mushrooms, but any brown or black Asian mushrooms will work)
  • 1 medium Yellow Onion – small chopped
  • 350g Firm Tofu – chopped into 11.5cm cubes
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste (for the tofu)
  • 6 TBLS / 3/8 cup Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 TBLS Pure Rice Vinegar
  • 2 TBLS vegetarian mushroom flavored oyster sauce (or use regular oyster sauce if you don’t need to make this completely vegetarian)
  • 1.5 TBLS freshly cracked Black Pepper
  • 1 TBLS + 1 TSP Brown Sugar
  • 1 TBLS + 1 TSP Corn Starch mixed with 1 & 1/2 cup Water (mixed together to make a slurry)
  • 2 TBLS Olive Oil (or any other cooking oil you prefer)
  • 2 TSP Sesame Oil
  • 1 TSP Chili Oil (optional)

Instructions

Prep:

  1. Chop the fresh ingredients: Mince garlic, and chop the red chilies, onion, and spring onions. Soak the mushrooms in lukewarm water for a couple of minutes, rinse, chop off and discard the stubs, and slice the meaty part. Set aside.
  2. Tofu: Drain the water from the package and pat dry the tofu block with paper towels. Gently squeeze the block so that the paper towels absorb the water. Then, cut the tofu into 1 to 1.5cm cubes.

For the Tofu:

  1. Heat 1 TBLS olive oil in a large nonstick skillet or fry-pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the tofu cubes. Allow to cook for at least 1 minute without touching them. Then, gently shake the pan by the handle to make the tofu shift its position. You’ll see that the bottom will have browned slightly. Season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste, and use a spatula to flip the tofu. Brown the tofu cubes on all sides – about 10-12 minutes. Set aside (you can leave them in the pan and add them directly to the wok with the Black Pepper Sauce.)

For the Braised Tofu & Mushrooms in Black Pepper Sauce:

  1. Heat the remaining olive oil, sesame oil, and chili oil (if using) over medium-high heat in the wok. Lift the wok and swirl in clockwise motion to distribute the oil evenly around the perimeter.
  2. Once hot, add the onion and sauté until translucent – about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the red chilies and garlic and continue sautéing until fragrant.
  4. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 4-5 minutes or until softened.
  5. Pour in the low sodium soy sauce, rice vinegar, and vegetarian mushroom flavored oyster sauce. Give everything a good stir to combine.
  6. Turn down the heat to medium-low (to prevent the black pepper from burning) and stir in the freshly cracked black pepper and brown sugar.
  7. Add the spring onion and give it a stir to combine. Then give the corn starch slurry a quick stir (to loosen up the corn starch) and pour it into the wok. Stir.
  8. Turn the heat back up to medium-high and let the sauce come to a slow simmer – about 1-2 minutes.
  9. Add the pan-fried tofu into the wok and gently fold them into the sauce to combine. Cook for 2-3 minutes while stirring occasionally combine everything in the wok.
  10. Turn off the heat and transfer to a serving dish. Serve over some warm steamed white rice and a side of stir-fried veggies if desired.

Notes

  1. Is tofu vegan?: Yes! Tofu is made from soy milk and is naturally vegan. However, some varieties that are pre-spiced and seasoned may not be entirely vegan or gluten-free. As always, I recommend checking the ingredients label before you purchase anything at the supermarket, especially if you have specific dietary needs. But the firm tofu needed for this recipe will be vegan. 
  2. To make this gluten-free: Use tamari in place of the soy sauce (or gluten-free soy sauce – I like Kikkoman’s). Also use a gluten-free oyster sauce. To make this vegetarian/vegan AND gluten-free, I suggest using a gluten-free vegetarian oyster sauce. Please do note that I haven’t tried any variety of gluten-free oyster sauce, since I don’t need to always follow a gluten-free diet. But if you do, let me know in the comments how it turns out!
  3. To make this with meat or shrimp: Check out my Stir-fried Pork Sukiyaki in Black Pepper Sauce recipe! It’s basically the same sauce I use for this recipe, but it’s made with different measurements for some of the ingredients. Also, that version is a stir-fry while so the sauce is less thick. So far I’ve made sliced pork collar, beef slices, shrimp, and pan-grilled cornstarch dusted chicken thighs diced into cubes in the same stir-fry sauce for the Stir-fried Pork Sukiyaki in Black Pepper Sauce. They all are legit tasty options, so take your pick my dear carnivore! 😉 And if you are simply just looking for a black pepper sauce tofu stir-fry, you can pan-fry the tofu as indicated in this recipe, but stir-fry it in the black pepper sauce for the pork recipe.
  4. Feel free to also add in more stir-fry friendly veggies such as snap peas, broccoli, bell peppers, etc. to the sauce if you like.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 bowl
  • Calories: 247
  • Sugar: 8.2g
  • Sodium: 1173.8mg
  • Fat: 13.4g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.8g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 11.2g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 21.5g
  • Fiber: 3.1g
  • Protein: 12.7g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

This post may contain affiliate links. We are a part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

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