April 4, 2022

Black Pepper Tofu and Celery

Black Pepper Tofu and Celery

Black Pepper Tofu and Celery

This black pepper tofu and celery recipe is a super simple and delicious stir fry! The sauce is a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar and sugar, and it goes wonderfully with fluffy white rice!

Black peppercorns in a pestle and mortar start off your sauce, then crunchy and crispy celery are tossed with crispy tofu! Topped with a little bit of lemon juice to finish, this is most epic 1 pan meal.

No waste here! We’re using the celery leaves to make a really quick salad on the top of the stir fry with our remaining green onions and some toasted sesame seeds. Also adds some freshness and more crunch. SO delicious and the taste amazing!

PS: this is completely vegan and vegetarian!!

This dish is heavily inspired by Chinese Black Pepper Chicken: an amazing, aromatic blend of a peppercorn sauce with crispy chicken, bell pepper and celery.

Black Pepper Tofu and Celery

Key ingredients for this recipe

Black peppercorns: Black pepper is the star of this dish. Whole peppercorns (using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle) are grinding up and bloomed with chili.

Celery: Crunchy, delicious celery is even more tasty when it’s stir fried with an abundance of flavors!

Firm Tofu: We’re using firm (or extra firm) tofu for this recipe. If you use too soft of a tofu, it will fall apart and not get crispy and have it’s texture like we want in here! We want plenty crunch!

Garlic cloves & Ginger: Another key ingredient to the recipe are the aromatics of garlic cloves and garlic matchsticks. SO good. You can also add some shallots in here for extra goodness!

SPICE! We’re using gochugaru, but I’ve equally tried chili flakes, Thai chili flakes and also Sichuan chili powder, will all work great.

Light Soy Sauce: The star of the sauce ingredients. Can also be subbed for Tamari. Adds so much flavor, and gets super thick and glossy with the vinegar (either rice vinegar, red wine, or Chinese vinegar work great here!) and cornstarch/flour. If you want a sweeter and thicker consistency, you can also do half light soy and half dark soy sauce/kecap manis/sweet soy sauce.

Black Pepper Tofu and Celery

Instructions to make your black pepper tofu and celery

Prep your extra firm tofu. 

To begin, drain and dry (with paper towels) your tofu. Cube into your desired size (I did medium to medium small sized cubes) 

Crisp your tofu. 

Heat a cast iron skillet or wok with a drizzle of avocado oil until piping hot. Add in your cubed tofu and brown on 1 side for 5-6 minutes, until you see browning on the bottom. Then flip, repeat on all sides until browned. Season with salt and remove from the pan. 

Prep vegetables. 

While your tofu is browning, prep all your aromatics and vegetables. When slicing your celery, set aside the leaves, and set aside a little bit of the sliced green onions for garnish.

Grind up your peppercorns with a grinder, pestle and mortar or you can use pre-ground pepper if you prefer. Set aside. 

Make your stir fry sauce 

(while the tofu is crispied!). Mix soy sauce, coconut aminos, vinegar, sugar with a whisk and cornstarch/flour until all mixed together.

Black Pepper Tofu and Celery

Begin your stir fry. 

In the same skillet/cast iron/wok as the removed tofu, add a drizzle of olive oil (about a tablespoon or two) and heat on medium-high heat. Add in your ground up peppercorns and pepper flakes (chilli or gochugaru and about a teaspoon) to bloom the spices. 

Then add in your garlic and ginger. Mix well until all the spices are incorporated on medium heat to medium high heat. 

Finish the stir fry!

 by adding your celery and green onions. Mix well until your celery is softer but still crunchy – about 10-15 minutes. 

Then pour in your stir fry sauce as well as adding back in your crispy tofu. Stir well on medium to high-high heat and mix well until completely mixed together. The sauce should get glossy, saucy and thick at this point.

Make your topping! Mix until heated throughout. As it’s heating, in a separate bowl, add in your celery leaves, toasted sesame seeds and reserved spring onions/green onions. Mix with a dash of salt and a lemon squeeze. Mix well.

Serve! In a bowl, add in your fluffy white rice, the tofu stir fry and top with your quick celery leave/green onion/lemon salad. Finish with another lemon squeeze and enjoy! 

Black Pepper Tofu and Celery

Tips, Tricks and Substitutions

How do I make tofu crispy?

Make sure you’re completely draining your tofu, and using a tofu presser or using paper towels to drain out all the excess liquid in the tofu. This helps not only infuse flavors but helps with crispy tofu as well.

Can you season tofu like meat?

Yes, absolutely! Tofu absorbs so much flavor when properly dried out, it is a sponge essentially. It infuses flavors beautifully. This recipe is a great example of how to use these flavors to really bring a lot of flavor to tofu.

What can I substitute for celery?

Other vegetables that can work are asparagus, broccoli, carrots, corn or mushrooms!

Can I prep this for lunch the next day?

This makes wonderful meal prep and can save in the fridge, just heat up when ready to eat!

Is there any rice substitutions?

Cauliflower rice will work well here. You can also serve it over some greens, in lettuce wraps as well!

Why are you using both light soy sauce and coconut aminos in this recipe?

By no means do you have to include both if you’d like to add all soy sauce! But I absolutely love the flavor of just a little bit of coconut aminos. It adds a little bit of an unexpected flavor when it is paired with the soy sauce, but can totally be removed and replaced with regular soy.

Black Pepper Tofu and Celery

Love this dinner recipe? Try these!

Sweet Potato and Kale Couscous with Spicy Basil Tahini

Rigatoni Alla Vodka with Whipped Ricotta

Roasted Salt and Pepper Bone-In Chicken Breast

Halibut en Papillote with Green Olive Salsa Verde

Dinner is served!

If you do make this Black Pepper Tofu and Celery recipe (first of all, thank you!!), be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Don’t forget to tag me on Instagram so I can be sure to see what you’re making! If you’d like to stay in touch and get the latest to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter here as well!

Watch How To Make It

YouTube video
Black Pepper Tofu and Celery
Black Pepper Tofu and Celery

Black Pepper Tofu and Celery

This black pepper tofu and celery recipe is a super simple and delicious stir fry!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Keyword: black pepper tofu, one pan
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

For your stir fry

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1 14 oz block firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns ground up in a pestle and mortar or grinder
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes or gochugaru, Sichuan chili powder will work as well
  • 4 garlic cloves thinly sliced
  • 2 thumbs ginger thinly sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 bundle celery sliced on a bias
  • 1 bundle green onions sliced on a bias
  • juice of 1 lemon

For your sauce

  • 1/4th cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos or more soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar or Chinese black vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch or flour
  • white rice
  • top with celery leaves, remaining green onions and sesame seeds with lemon juice

Instructions

  • Prep your tofu. To begin, drain and dry (with paper towels) your tofu. Cube into your desired size (I did medium to medium small sized cubes)
  • Crisp your tofu. Heat a cast iron or wok with a drizzle of avocado oil until piping hot. Add in your cubed tofu and brown on 1 side for 5-6 minutes, until you see browning on the bottom. Then flip, repeat on all sides until browned. Season with salt and remove from the pan.
  • Prep vegetables. While your tofu is browning, prep all your aromatics and vegetables. When slicing your celery, set aside the leaves, and set aside a little bit of the sliced green onions for garnish.
  • Grind up your peppercorns with a grinder, pestle and mortar or you can use pre-ground pepper if you prefer. Set aside.
  • Make your stir fry sauce (while the tofu is crispied!). Mix soy sauce, coconut aminos, vinegar, sugar with a whisk and cornstarch/flour until all mixed together.
  • Begin your stir fry. In the same skillet/cast iron/wok as the removed tofu, add a drizzle of olive oil and heat on medium-high heat. Add in your ground up peppercorns and pepper flakes (chili or gochugaru) to bloom the spices.
  • Then add in your garlic and ginger. Mix well until all the spices are incorporated on medium high heat.
  • Finish the stir fry by adding your celery and green onions. Mix well until your celery is softer but still crunchy – about 10-15 minutes.
  • Then add in your stir fry sauce as well as adding back in your crispy tofu. Stir well on medium to high-high heat and mix well until completely mixed together. The sauce should get glossy, saucy and thick at this point.
  • Make your topping! Mix until heated throughout. As it's heating, in a separate bowl, add in your celery leaves, toasted sesame seeds and reserved green onions. Mix with a dash of salt and a lemon squeeze. Mix well.
  • Serve! In a bowl, add in your fluffy white rice, the tofu stir fry and top with your quick celery leave/green onion/lemon salad. Finish with another lemon squeeze and enjoy!
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