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.
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:
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:
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.
Once hot, add the onion and sauté until translucent – about 1-2 minutes.
Add the red chilies and garlic and continue sautéing until fragrant.
Add the mushrooms and sauté for 4-5 minutes or until softened.
Pour in the low sodium soy sauce, rice vinegar, and vegetarian mushroom flavored oyster sauce. Give everything a good stir to combine.
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.
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.
Turn the heat back up to medium-high and let the sauce come to a slow simmer – about 1-2 minutes.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.