I spotted black pepper tofu on Ottolenghi’s* Instagram last week, a fine place to gush over food. The recipe is from Plenty, an excellent cookbook that I happen to have, which means I could make it right away. However, rather than making it and then still feeling a loose obligation to make a vegetable side dish or salad, I decided to add eggplant. From there, everything went south. I don’t have three types of soy sauce. I can get them, theoretically, but I was feeling lazy about it. I was pretty sure five tablespoons of crushed peppercorns and eight thinly sliced red chiles would make my children run screaming from the room; 11 tablespoons of butter was a bit rich for my tastes. But here’s the thing with this and, I think, all recipes. Much ado is made about “internet recipe commenters” and their “I changed eight ingredients and it didn’t work, zero stars”-type presence on websites. I’m often asked how I don’t “lose patience” with these types of comments and here comes an opinion, you just know I had one brewing:
For the love of absolutely nothing holy, because this an internet recipe blog and not the 11th commandment, you are allowed to make every single recipe you come across any way you wish. Modify for the ingredients you have. Modify for the schedule you have or the free time you want. Modify for the nutrients you need. Recipes aren’t bibles; I am no goddess. I don’t find it annoying. I mean, we’re going to have to manage our expectations about the outcomes. Some changes work, some don’t, and we can talk about it, I’ll answer whatever I can as best as I can. But honestly the best thing you can do is to report back in the comments, that is, tell us what you changed and how it went, and help the next person with the question out.
Which is all to say [“Ugh, why are recipe headnotes so long?” lol] that I used one kind of soy sauce, a third of the butter, a tablespoon of black pepper, no chiles, I halved the tofu, added eggplant, and then I ultimately sheet pan-ed it. I didn’t only roast it because I’m nursing a hot pink two-inch burn on my forearm from dropping tofu in hot oil on the stove — if only 13 years of cooking experience here could have warned me about the ol’ water-oil issue — but because to make this entirely on the stove, you’ll need to fry tofu, and then the eggplant, and then make the sauce for 15 minutes and that adds up to a lot of time. By roasting the vegetables while you make the sauce, it comes together faster. Eggplant and tofu are fantastic together; the tofu holds its shape, the eggplant collapses and partly joins the sauce and the result was too dark and pretty to even bother garnishing with chiles or scallions, but you could. You’re in charge.
P.S. Remember when I got to interview him? That was fun.
Six Months Ago: Perfect Meatballs and Spaghetti
One year ago: Foccacia Sandwiches for a Crowd
Two years ago: Blackberry-Blueberry Crumb Pie
Three years ago: Summer Squash Pizza, Peach Melba Popsicles, and Chile-Lime Melon Salad
Four years ago: Raspberry Crushed Ice
Five years ago: Cold Noodles with Miso, Lime, and Ginger and Apricot Pistachio Squares
Six years ago: Charred Corn Crepes, Burst Tomato Galette with Corn and Zucchini and Strawberry, Lime, and Black Pepper Popsicles
Seven years ago: Pink Lemonade Bars and Charred Pepper Steak Sauce
Eight years ago: Sugar Plum Crepes with Ricotta and Honey
Nine years ago: Everyday Chocolate Cake and Zucchini and Almond Pasta Salad
Ten years ago: Asparagus with Chorizo and Croutons and Sour Cherry Slab Pie
Eleven years ago: Cantaloupe Salsa and Plum Kuchen and Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad
Twelve years ago: Summer Pea and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad
Thirteen years ago: Huevos Racheros, Blueberry Crumb Bars, Napa Cabbage Salad with Buttermilk Dressing, and Quick Zucchini Sauté
Black Pepper Tofu and Eggplant
For high-heat cooking and roasting, I usuaully use safflower (currently this one) or sunflower oil. Shallots vary a lot in size but I used 4 to 5 medium/big ones for 1 1/4 cups shallots. This will be too salty with regular soy sauce. If it’s all you’ve got, use 6 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons water. Cornstarch-coated tofu likes to stick to roasting pans but I find by preheating the pan, using a thin spatula (this is my go-to), and not moving the tofu until it’s crisp and browned underneath, it’s not a problem.
- 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu
- Neutral oil for roasting (I use safflower)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3/4 to 1 pound eggplant
- Kosher salt
- 3 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (the higher amount is slightly more rich)
- 1 heaped cup thinly sliced shallots or 1 medium white or red onion, thinly sliced
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
- 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon granulated or brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon crushed or very coarsely ground black pepper, and more to taste
- Rice, for serving
- Chile-garlic sauce, crispy chili oil, or sriracha for serving
Roast tofu and eggplant in oven for 20 minutes to start. After 20 minutes, use your thinnest spatula to gently separate the tofu from the pan and flip to crisp and brown on the other side, about another 10 minutes. Do the same with the eggplant. At 30 minutes, the tofu should be crisp and browned and the eggplant should be roasted and tender. If needed, cook it for 5 more minutes.
While tofu and eggplant roasts, prepare the sauce. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat and add butter. Once butter melts, add shallots, garlic, and ginger. Reduce heat slightly and cook, stirring here and there, until everything is tender, about 11 to 14 minutes. Add the soy sauce, sugar, and black pepper and cook, simmering, for 3 minutes more. Add roasted tofu and eggplant to pan and stir to coat with sauce; cook for one to two minutes minute together. Serve over or with rice; add extra heat as needed.
432 comments on black pepper tofu and eggplant
Wow this looks good! Except I don’t like tofu, and my husband doesn’t like eggplant, and we’re both allergic to soy. Any suggestions for substitutions?
just kidding! I adore you and your infinite patience. I literally gasped when I saw this post because I’ve been meaning to make the Ottolenghi black pepper tofu for so long and adding eggplant makes it sound even better.
Two things. First, a bit off topic, but I have a rule that I only make baked goods for the first time where there are comments on the site – that way you get the benefit of all those real life test kitchens! Secondly, I’ve never made an Ottolenghi recipe without subbing at least two or three ingredients – it must be something to do with the chef-ishly long lists of highly specific items. Anyway, the good news is that his recipes stand up well to all those modifications. In fact, my favourite ever carrot salad is a highly modified version of your modified version of one of his. Everyone’s shopping lists and pantry staples will be different – make recipe suit what you buy and eat and you’ll make it for years to come!
Whoops – didn’t mean to reply to the above, just to make a new comment! Internet-ing fail, sorry!
Sabrina wins all the things!
This was awesome as written and I think I am going to try it again with Szechuan peppercorns next!
So I tried this again with the Szechuan peppercorns at it was a horrible mistake – DON’T DO IT! Perfect as written!
I love that you came back to tell us.
Made this on parchment paper without flipping and still came out great! My friend, for whom I usually make Sichuanese eggplant and tofu dishes like 麻婆豆腐 and 鱼香茄子, said he actually likes this better! Less oil but still just as flavorful, and also vegetarian. Find the use of butter and pepper with these flavor profiles to be fascinating, but it works. I served it with rice and smashed cucumber in a garlic/vinegar sauce.
Came to the comments to see if anyone had made it with parchment. Thanks!
This is so good! I used parchment paper. I preheated the pan with no paper, added a drizzle of oil on the paper before adding the eggplant and tofu. I had been skeptical, but omg it was so easy and came out great. I usually fry tofu and swear a lot while trying to scrape it up to flip it. No swearing with the sheet pan method!
Thank you!! I’ve been reluctant to heat oil on an empty pan but this is brilliant!
I’ve made this so many times and finally thought I’d comment. This is amazing. At this point, I’ve made it so much I’ve got my own little variations and I don’t need the recipe anymore but figured I’d say a big THANK YOU!
Delicious and much more simple than i thought. will surely make it again.
Sabrina, love your comment! I laughed out loud reading it. Spot on!
I substituted dark chocolate for the tofu, chicken livers for the eggplant and moldy hot dog relish for the onions. But that’s all – everything else was exactly the same. I’m sorry Deb, it was terrible. Zero stars.
LOL, thanks for the laughs!
OMG THANK YOU MK HASTINGS! I did exactly what you did EXCEPT I used beef liver instead of chicken and vegan hot dogs. The chocolate was 90% dark, and I recommend using 72% dark chocolate with stevia sweetener next time. TWO STARS!
And I tried it with raw tuna and boiled eggplant, an egg and grapes with a caramel glaze. It was meh. I would say 1 star…..seriously Deb, this head note alone is why we love you so much.
Not sure if I am double posting, but I made this tonight. Followed the recipe except I added two tomatoes that needed to be used or tossed. Turned out excellent! I will definitely make again. The tofu was a little tough, but I think I left it in there too long.
I made this tonight, according to the recipe. It was far too salty.
Your mistake was the dark chocolate. You need to go with milk.
My girlfriend, who I usually try to accommodate, doesn’t eat eggplant, tofu, soy sauce, cornstarch, or butter. That said, I intend to make this recipe exactly as written and she can just have a salad. I’m getting eggplant with my rescued produce box this week, and I’ve been craving tofu, so the timing couldn’t be more perfect. I’ve made Ottelenghi’s recipe a few times but had completely forgotten about it.
I want to leave humorous comment, but truly am allergic to tofu! If I sub chicken, maybe just do it in skillet? Oven seems easier tho!
Try using paneer instead of tofu.
Thank you for asking this, because me too! I regularly use halloumi in place of tofu. It remains firmer than paneer, and is easier for me to find. I wouldn’t give it a full roast though, just a quick broil. Maybe add it for the last 5 or 10 minutes? I’ve also used something called bread cheese, which is slightly sweeter than halloumi.
Thanks for all of the wonderful recipes Deb! Made this for my Cantonese husband who loves spice and my 3 and 5 year old who are not fans of spice. I used about 2/3 of a tablespoon of the black pepper, and that was enough for the hubs and just at the point of tolerance for the kiddos! Next time I might use a bit less pepper for the kiddos, but this is definitely a keeper recipe. Pretty quick and easy, too, and the tofu was the perfect crispness. Yum!
Any thoughts on subbing honey for the sugar? I’m out of sugar but trying to make this tn! looks amaaaazing btw
Can I make this vegan, without tofu, and substitute tomatoes for the eggplant? OH, and it won’t work!?!
Seriously – change a recipe all you want people – I do – but *don’t blame* the creator when it doesn’t work! Deb, you’re the best, and have infinite patience.
BUT – this looks fantastic, and may convert me to love eggplant. Since I have an abundance of kale in my garden – anyone’s welcome to some – I’m making this favorite baked tofu with coconut kale sheet pan recipe from Ali Stafford (with some modifications!)
I don’t cook with tofu very often and when I do it’s usually pan fried. Might roasting it in a cast iron skillet mitigate some of the sticking issue? My sheet pans are rather “sheety.”
You totally can, but for me, sticking/tearing wasn’t really an issue, so long as it’s brown and crisp underneath (so basically the same as anything you roast, chicken, potatoes).
This is the first Smitten Kitchen recipe I tried and it was a big success! I’ve just returned from a trip to Singapore with my family and was looking to replicate the flavors of the black pepper crab we tried there. I considered Ottolenghi’s recipe but then came upon this one and tried it right away. It worked perfectly, except that I didn’t notice the part about diluting regular soy sauce which is all I had. It was very salty but still delicious, in fact the crab dish in Singapore was just as salty. However I will remember to cut with water next time. We are meat eaters as well so I’ll try it with beef, chicken or shrimp and maybe even crab. Thanks!
I like to line my sheet pans with parchment paper for easy clean-up but that probably won’t work here. Any thoughts.
You can and in previous roasted tofu recipe (tofu-broccoli with crunchy sesame-peanut dressing in Smitten Kitchen Every Day), I suggest this. But I wanted the extra crisp and brown here. Both ways work.
Today I learnt you can roast! tofu!
My world is turned upside down until I have the chance to make this recipe.
Check out the roasted tofu recipe at www,cookieandkate.com
I roasted tofu just the other day on a sheet pan with a silpat, and it got good and crispy! I used this method, which is pretty similar: https://cookieandkate.com/how-to-make-crispy-baked-tofu/
I love all your recipes but this one was really really salty, and I even cut some of the soy sauce!
I found it really salty as well but I didn’t have unsalted butter so I used salted. I’m not sure if that threw it over the top
Absolutely thrilled to see your adaptation of this recipe, which I’ve always dismissed out of hand as too-fussy in its original form. Looking forward to giving this a go!
Made this tonight as written, except I added two tomatoes after the shallot mixture cooked down. The tofu did get crispy but I think I left it in there too long. My fault. I ate it over cauliflower rice. Great recipe, will definitely make again.
Bravo! This is the internet-recipe-comment rant I didn’t know I needed.
My very picky 9 year old asked me to make this again! I put it over henan noodles instead of rice, delicious. She loved it as did the rest of the family.
Please can we have metric measurements too? I can cope with ounces but converting F to C just blows my brain right now and cups are just not a reliable unit IMHO 😉 Thx
Google says that 425 F = about 220 C.
Just FYI. :-)
Google hack for any measurement, currency exchange, temperature, etc:
In Google search, type:
Obviously cups to grams depends upon whatever you are measuring. Milk will be different than flour. But there are websites that can give you Imperial to metric (or the reverse) for common cooking ingredients.
This looks incredibly delicious, and I can’t wait to start prepping this on Sunday nights before the workweek begins. Any clue as to whether this holds up the next day?
It holds up but the sauce might be a little dry. You can always add a spoonful of water.
I don’t know that I want to know what that nonstick aluminum foil is treated with, but I will use that to line the pan I brown the tofu and eggplant on. Just a thought.
You totally can. I find it gets a little more crisp without it, but it also requires a thin spatula.
My favourite tool in the kitchen is actually a metal paint scraper with a wooden handle. Gets off pretty much everything stuck into a baking sheet.
Brilliant idea … I definitely am buying a new paint scraper, if I cannot properly clean the one I’ve had for years.
Love everything I have ever made from your site and if I dont make the gooey pecan cinnamon rolls; it isnt Christmas!
But really, I have a question about this recipe cause it needs to be in my belly! Is the sugar needed or could I substitute grated carrot?
Salt was definitely an issue in testing so I really felt like it needed the tablespoon of sugar. (The original recipe had 2x that plus a sweet soy sauce, just for comparison.)
Although I generally think tofu is weird to cook with I’m drooling over your photo of the finished product. When it’s cool enough to fire up the oven I’ll give it a try. Husband can’t eat eggplant, thinking I’ll substitute zucchini, and heck, why not throw in some roasted green beans, red/yellow bell peppers, mushrooms. Variety is the spice of life, no/yes?
My husband also resists eggplant. I tried one of Deb’s tomato and eggplant recipes a few weeks ago and failed to persuade him (yet again..sigh). So I too am thinking of seasonal substitutes so I can make this right away…
This recipe looks delicious! In case anyone is in need of a great way to cook tofu in the oven, here’s my go-to, easy (and foolproof) method of making crispy oven roasted tofu. I’m going to prep my tofu this way when I make this recipe. It’s very similar in texture to fried tofu but doesn’t involve the standard oily mess from the stove top. And you also use very little oil. Here’s how it happens:
1) Drain extra-firm tofu and slice lengthwise into three or four slabs.
2) Grab two baking sheets and two thick stacks of paper towels. Lay one stack of paper towels on the first baking sheet, lay down your tofu slabs, and cover with the other stack of paper towels. Put the other baking sheet on top, and then grab your heaviest glass bowls (or perhaps cans of beans) and put those on top of the baking sheet. We want to press out as much water as possible.
3) After letting the tofu press for 20 minutes, remove the top sheet tray and grab your tofu. The paper towels should be soaked, and the tofu much more firm. You could also press the tofu w/o first slicing into slabs, but you will need to press for at least an hour. Pressing the tofu first helps it get really crispy in the oven. At this point, I usually like to cube the tofu, but you could also slice into triangles.
4) Put the pressed tofu into a large bowl, top with 1 tbsp oil (peanut works well), 1 tbsp soy sauce, and 1 tbsp cornstarch. Toss the tofu with a spoon until well incorporated and the cornstarch is absorbed.
5) Bake in 425 oven for 20-30 minutes, until the tofu is very brown and crisp. I find that no flipping is needed.
This is a great technique and I’ve done it before — I recommend the long pressing time in the recipe in my second cookbook. However, I was delighted to find when testing this that even 5 minutes wrapped in paper towels with nothing on top resulted in very crispy tofu (with more tender centers) without the extra steps. I didn’t do a side-by-side, but I was happy to save the time.
If you’re lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe’s, it sells a tofu in a vacum-sealed package with no water – it’s extra firm and require NO DRAINING. My go to.
Yikes. I was so looking forward to this recipe but it was just not good. I had fresh eggplant from the farmers market and I felt like I ruined them by using them in this recipe.
The sauce is way too salty even with low sodium Tamari. Also the tofu should have had some type of spice behind salt in the cornstarch.
This was great, I made note of the salt comments only added a little to the eggplant, used the 6 tablespoons soy mixed with some water and added chilli. I will very much make again!!! Delicious
OH MY GOD. I always press my tofu in a giant block and hate that it takes so long. How have I never thought to slice it up first??? Chris, you have just completely changed my tofu game!
I’ve perused AllRecipes for years and the scolding that people give for changing a recipe and reporting outcomes has me wanting to reply..You’re not the boss of this recipe or it’s readers! However I have worked around the scolding by replying that I used the recipe as my inspiration for the very reason you said; It’s my choice andin the event someone else has thought to try it the way I did, they have some feedback available before they commit. I appreciate it when I find someone has made the changes I’d like to make so I don’t waste time, or that I can go ahead if I hear that it was successful. Sorry for hijacking the recipe for this rant, but I was ‘Inspired’ to comment on the changing of recipes!
Nobody is objecting to anyone changing a recipe. What’s completely unfair and out of bounds are the complaints that boil down to “I changed pretty much everything about this recipe, and didn’t like the results, therefore the recipe is at fault.”
I’ve made the Ottolenghi recipe as written and it’s amazing, but with a spice-averse kindergartener who always needs both dinner and undivided parental attention in the hectic half hour after my spouse and I get home from work, it’s not where my life is at right now. I plan to try this version as soon as possible, and may experiment with bok choy or broccoli for a fall/winter alternative!
Do you think this would work with small fairytale eggplants?
Absolutely. I really like them.
So…we make one of your recipes at least once a week. We have loved all of them! Unfortunately, this was a big miss. Soy sauce was overwhelming. We are salt fans. But found that the soy sauce eclipsed the ginger, garlic, eggplant, etc. Any suggestions on how to tame this recipe down a bit?
Like you, I am also a huge Smitten Kitchen fan and have enjoyed and used countless recipes to feed my family. I tried this last night as we love eggplants, tofu and everything else in this recipe but it was SO SALTY that none of us could finish our meal. If I ever make this again, I would definitely not salt the eggplant and tofu, I would cut the soy sauce in half and sub either water or unsalted broth for the other half.
For anyone saying it has too much salt – there are no measurements given for salt. If you found it too salty, use a lighter hand next time. It only calls for a few pinches. Maybe try a low-sodium soy sauce, too.
Ooh, can’t wait to try this! The recipe in the book looks amazing and my mouth waters every time I look at the picture but I’ve never brought myself to actually make it for the reasons you note. Thank you so much for this family friendly version!
I made a modified version of the recipe from Plenty last week. I used Deb’s instructions for oven roasting the tofu, cut the black pepper to 2 Tbs., used a mix of regular soy, dark soy and water, and added chopped up bok choy. It turned out really good!
I have made Ottolenghi’s BPT recipe many many times and it never fails to disappoint. I never thought to use eggplant – I typically will toss in broccoli and cashews – so I’ll have to try that next time. I think the sauce would also be excellent on chicken or even scallops. I think your recipes and amendments to recipes are fab by the way, never change Deb!
This looks delicious. Love all the recipes that come out from your kitchen. I had a weird request. Can you please do a post on top 10 -15 cookbooks that every homecook should have? I am slowly building a collection. For now I have a few Ottolenghi, all of yours :), Ken Forkish, Ina Garten and Meera Sodha, but would love to see your recommendations. Also, when are you releasing your 3rd book?
Thank you. I have tried to make this list many times and failed. I could never choose 10 favorites. The second I do, someone will remind me of another one I use so often that I forgot and I’ll need to add it too.
Great timing! I was just wondering what to do with the eggplant and tofu I have in my fridge.
Here here 🙌! Recipes are truly ideas/templates not written in stone; however those who change absolutely every ingredient should not blame the author. (BTW I love the “punch” of salt in your IG stories – the first one I thought may
have been typo or autocorrect, the second one I thought must be on purpose!)
Have you or your editor ever thought that you might do a book of recipes you have changed/modified after reader input? I think it would be hilarious and instructive and maybe pivotal. :)
Hoooollyyy! This recipe looks incredible and is on my next weeks meal plan!
Looks like it would pair great with bok choy!
Made this EXACTLY…Love Love love this!!!! Eating it as I type…you are funny and inspiring! Keep up the goodness!
Hi Deb! I suffer from a long-term affliction, called Fear of Cooking Tofu! Well, you have just about cured me with this recipe! Looks fantastic, and I will head out tomorrow morning for (another) eggplant and extra firm tofu. I am so excited! Thanks for this, and everything else. (After chemo I got back into the kitchen with the farro and tomato recipe, which is still in my rotation!)
Well, I am glad that you are not FoCT anymore 😉
I wanted to start out by making a snarky joke about the changing of every ingredient but water in the recipe and then complaining but the two links you provided were perfect.
Deb, when your arm recovers from the burn (owww!!!!), I have a recommendation. a few years ago, a friend bought me an apron as a christmas gift, knowing how much time I spend cooking and baking. This apron is long-sleeved [it’s honestly more-or-less a cute printed smock with two pockets]. she told me that long-sleeved aprons are typical in Chinese cooking where you are often sauteing or frying over hot oil. it does work great for arm protection; I use it for any serious frying. (in the winter, it also helps to keep you warm)
I love your attitude. Thank you for exemplary…and for all the great recipe ideas!
I always love how real-world you are, Deb. But I disagree with you on the comments issue. I don’t think anybody who criticizes the commenters you described is taking aim at their having changed a recipe; they’re taking aim at those who start with a recipe, change almost every single thing about it, usually including The Main Thing, and then *blame the recipe* when that doesn’t get them a good result. I’m always happy to benefit from the adventuresome nature of those who feel comfortable flying on instruments, since I’m not one of them, but credit and blame should only go where they are due.
I’m dying to know if your kids liked this dish?
Haha. My son is at sleepaway camp but would have liked it, I’m fairly confident. My daughter doesn’t eat anything, including this.
The Ottolenghi black pepper tofu has a mythical status in my household as my partner’s Worst Meal Ever. I wasn’t present at the infamous dinner but he is the farthest thing from a fussy eater I’ve ever met and a tofu lover but nearly a decade later he still shudders when it is mentioned. It might be time for me to give your version a crack (plus the original chilli) and not discuss its origins at the dinner table.
My household too! Made it exactly as written years ago and my partner found it inedibly spicy and to this day makes fun of me for making it, and is hesitant to try other recipes from that book as a result (I of course, adored it). Now that we have a toddler, will definitely be trying this version and am hoping the whole family will enjoy!
you guys are both crazy. i’ve made it several times with my meat-eater partner scarfing every single bite. served with rice and traditional stir fried morning glory, it’s soo good!!
I thought the black pepper sounded like a bit much. I heavily cut down on the pepper and added a dab of sambal – it doesn’t result in a spicy dish. It gives it a mild vinegary note.
Made this tonight exactly as written and it was excellent! Next time I might try it with skinny eggplant instead of aubergines because I don’t really care for the eggplant skin.
Deb, I so appreciate it when you rework an Ottolenghi recipe, (I call it Deb-olenghi-ing) you always make it so much easier to make without sacrificing flavor or quality.
Deb, your recipes are terrific, as are Ottolenghi’s; you both know the exact right combinations of foods, cooking times, and alternatives to preparing. I love eggplant, but not tofu, and would like to make the eggplant with…well, anything. Any suggestions on a good substitute?
I have made this successfully with paneer in place of tofu. It was my only sub to the original Ottolenghi recipe and was a big hit, although I agree with Deb on the pepper overload. Next time I will reduce the pepper. Paneer!
I’d double the eggplant and skip the tofu here. And thank you.
Correction: you *are* a goddess. I love your writing as much as your recipes! Can’t wait to make this, adore eggplant.
and my goodness – there are the times when I was in a hurry and needed to microwave the eggplant first in some water and then added it to the frying/mixing. And really that wouldn’t be the right taste exactly but if you had the chilli and the 3 soy sauces how would you even know the difference?
Hi Deb, I am not an American and I’m wondering what “regular soy sauce” means, or means to you. I understand from the “low sodium” comment that you mean very salty soy sauce is regular.
Is that Japanese soy sauce, the kind you’d use for sushi? Or perhaps Chinese? Over here in Holland, I have access to Japanese, Chinese (light and dark) and Indonesian (ketjap manis) and they’re all very different in flavor, viscosity, saltiness, etc.
Here, “regular” (it just says “soy sauce” on the bottle) is fairly salty. Low-sodium is much better here. Japanese soy sauces are, I understand, lower in sodium. If you have many types of soy sauce at home, you might enjoy using the mix Ottolenghi originally recommended, which 3 tablespoons sweet soy sauce (kecap manis), 3 tablespoons light soy sauce, and 4 teaspoons dark soy sauce.
This sounds delicious, especially with the butter. However, the butter excludes the dairy-free classification.
Haha! 👏 I teach cooking classes for a living and inevitably someone asks a question (well, usually it’s a statement) saying she/he/husband/kid doesn’t like garlic/mustard/whatever ingredient so they won’t be able to make the recipe at all. My response is always, the recipe police are not coming to get you! Leave it out! Substitute something she/he/husband/kid likes! You’re the boss! That’s what’s so great about cooking for yourself and your family!
This is a delicious recipe…I’ve made it even though my husband hates tofu and eggplant. He liked this though!!! Trick was to get him to taste it before I told him what it was!!!
We love you Deb.
The comments alone were a good read. Hilarious.
I think most of us agree those who rate zero after going off script are not playing fair. So if this looks like you – stop it. 😀
The comments are so funny I won’t even TRY to add to them, but I laughed especially loud at the commenter who said she was “craving tofu.” That was a joke, right?
One of the (many) things I love about the Smitten Kitchen site is using my browser “search on page” function to check the comments for substitutions I have in mind. Sometimes I just don’t have the ingredient, have a glut of a different veg, or just imagined it another way, and thanks to the excellent readership here somebody usually has tried it already and reported back! Readers seem super helpful with diet/allergy subs too. I think the complaints come back from old school sites with rating functions, when someone panned a recipe without following it at all. I will admit some annoyance when people take an obviously meaty/carby recipe and ask how to make it vegan and/or gluten free. There is a point when you need to search for recipes somewhat close to your eating habits!
Also, you’d think that people who regularly cook vegan or gf would already be familiar with substitutions that meet their dietary needs…
sorry if i’m missing, but are the shallots/garlic/ginger blended? I see a pic, but not seeing if they’re chopped or blended in the instructions
No, they’re just sauteed for a while so they get soft and lovely.
I was drooling over this recipe all the way to the bottom when my eyes got wide reading that you posted Huevos Rancheros THIRTEEN YEARS AGO! Holy moly, I’ve been following you for a long long time! I can’t believe that was 13 years ago. 13 delicious years though, I make it at least once a month <3
So much quality content here in the omg loooong headnotes, but I will point to one bit that wasn’t even a focus. Shallots range wildly in size. Can I repeat that 100 times over for effect. Why aren’t more people saying this, like, all the time?! Can you please always tell me the resulting amount once chopped,sliced, diced, or whatever? We use precise quantities for absolutely everything but shallots. K, thanks Deb. Keep it up.
I bake bread now(measuring in grams regularly) and med. onion, large tomato, bell pepper measures drive me batty.
Just give me the grams and make it easier for folks.
PS I love the original Ottolenghi recipe.
Made this as written. It is delicious.
The rule in our kitchen with any new recipe is to make it as written as the author had his/her reasons for doing it that way. We then add our notes on any modifications we would like to make and file it to our recipes file in our computer. This has kept this pair of avid foodies quite happy for many years. Going out to our garden to harvest the eggplant now.
This comment thread made my day. I’m an inveterate recipe-changer–not least because I cooked from the Moosewood cookbooks a lot, but cannot eat any color of bell peppers, and vegetable recipes are FULL of bell peppers. I tend to think of recipes as a starting point; the less familiar I am with a cuisine, the closer to the recipe I am likely to stay, but not always.
That said, I must tell you that your recipes really are go-to guides for me, particularly when I’m looking for a fairly specific thing to make.
Since you asked, I made this last night with broccoli instead of eggplant. The broccoli didn’t need quite as long as the tofu to roast, so I took it out of the oven a bit earlier than the tofu. It was delicious!
I confess that I do modify a lot of recipes to my liking. But I PROMISE I do not go back and comment knowing that this is modified. I like the “I made this” selection on the bottom but if I modified it, would I have still “made this”?
However, THANK YOU for the recipe and the dinner idea. I did make this last night and modified it with what I had. I happened to have a slowly rotting eggplant from my last rescued produce box (that I have not come up with a good way to cook) and the most recent one had shallots. So I did a one-pan thing and made it with just shallots, garlic and eggplant instead of roasting and threw the sauces right in the pan and my husband really liked it!
Not related to this post, but Deb, I just made the yogurt flatbreads from SK Everyday and they were awesome! I feel like such a hero! I flavored mine with chopped fresh rosemary and topped them with smoked goat cheese and accompanied them with a few sliced cherry tomatoes. I feel like I’m baking bread but it’s not hard or messy or slow. Yay, yay, yay. Can’t wait to try it again, maybe with some fresh fennel next time. Thank you!!
Deb, for kitchen burns: Keep the turmeric close to the sink. Into a little bowl or custard cup, put enough turmeric to cover the burn generously. Mix the turmeric with enough water to make a paste. Scoop the paste onto the burn. Cover the paste with some kind of bandage–the idea is to keep the paste in contact with the burn. (Extra points for not letting it leak, since turmeric stains so nicely.) Turmeric will help stop the pain quickly. It will also help to prevent blistering.
IThank you – great tip!
I “sprang” for a tofu press as I eat tofu 2x/week and hate the mess and bother of the heavy-can balancing act. This way I can press tofu right in my sink and don’t have to waste a bunch of paper towels, which I try to use sparingly in favor of reusable. A win-win fit less than $30!
This is just to say
that you should freeze your tofu
like I’ve emailed you before
and that you seem to have forgotten.
I’ll forgive you,
because frozen tofu is delicious
I thought of you and awaited your comment. :) I wondered why it feels like such an arduous extra time sink to freeze tofu vs. just blotting it for 5 minutes, when it doesn’t bother me at all to freeze cake layers, because I find them so much easier to work with when cold and somewhat firm. Next time, I’ll compare and contrast. Promise.
You know how you have all of those notes about using a specific spatula and not moving the tofu until it’s definitely totally crispy and hoping for the best? That’s so precious to me. Get home. Put it in the freezer. Let thaw whenever you need it. And then the water will POUR out and you won’t need to coddle your tofu like it’s a caramel or souffle. It’s a different texture but a BETTER texture–chewy, crispy, and never sodden. I promise it will convert you. I promise. And then, also, you can buy 6 lbs of tofu for 5 bucks at the asian market, freeze in baggies, and always have tofu at hand!!!
Costco members/friends and relatives thereof: Get the 4-pack of organic sprouted tofu (it’s either firm or extra firm, can’t recall which). Freeze 2-3 of ’em for this reason. Works like a charm and may have better nutritional & digestive results than the non-sprouted varieties. Enjoy!
Please clarify – freeze the tofu in the original container (with the water)? I will need to try this with the Costco tofu.
Sorry for the delay; yes, I just freeze it in the unopened container. Then, thaw in the fridge, press if desired, and cook.
This is just to say
that tofu freezing tip is brilliant
You certainly converted me – I read your comment at the time, and I never went back. Deb had the recipe on her Instagram today, so I was idly revisiting it and browsing through comments, and there you were – my tofu hero!
Elizabeth, you shall henceforth be ‘Elizabeth Carlos Elizabeth’ in my book. Well played.
Katy – just saw this after I posted my comment. Great minds and all that!
Elizabeth Deanna Morris Lakes – William Carlos Williams! This made me so happy, in addition to the fantastic recipe and all the great comments. One of my favourite cultural moments was finding a video of Matthew Macfadyen, my favourite English actor, reading the original poem about the plum. “So sweet, so cold.”
Thank you for the reference – I had no idea. So surprising, so delightful.
This is a comment section nonpareil.
Kristen in London – I wanted you to know that your wonderful Matthew Macfadyen video recommendation has enlivened my sunny California kitchen this afternoon. I never would have stumbled across it myself, and it’s pure gold. Thanks from across the pond. Now to dice some eggplant!
Thank you for this priceless reference. Delightful!
Lovely. From now on, I will freeze my tofu!
I hate long, rambling introductions to recipes, but I love you for your recipe modification rant. I’m one of *those* people who uses recipes as a guide, not as a holy scripture, but I do it with the understanding that my results may not accurately represent the original of I veganize a meat recipe or if [horrors] I knead a dough for 4:47 instead of 5 minutes precisely.
While I’m venting about internet blog recipes, I *do* appreciate how you often include photos and/or measurements of the ingredients you use. Is this tablespoon of sesame oil used in your recipe toasted or untoasted? It makes a huge difference, but many recipes don’t specify. What size are your five potatoes? Should I be aiming for a half kilo or a full kilo? This is where specificity in a recipe is important because it’s the only way to know whether I’m altering a recipe intentionally or unintentionally.
As far as your forearm burn is concerned, pressing your tofu helps tremendously. A decent kitchen towel between a couple of cutting boards with a couple of unused cookbooks on top works wonders. Here’s a guide on how to press tofu: https://olivesfordinner.com/2011/01/how-to-press-tofu-primer.html You don’t have to cut it that shape, but cutting it into slabs is *far* more effective than attempting to press a whole block of tofu.
This recipe? I haven’t made it yet, but I will. I’ll use vegan butter [Earth Balance is the go-to brand in the US], but otherwise might make it rather close to the way the recipe is written.
If it helps you, I used subbed a combo of coconut oil and sesame oil for the butter and it was lovely.
Deb, your acknowledgment of the need for hacks/shortcuts/sanity savers and value of reader input is just the combination of common sense and grace that makes your site priceless. This working mom appreciates your realist’s view of how the world goes ’round.
I substituted beef and pork for eggplant and tofu. Also used two buck chuck instead of the various soys. And ancient ground pepper, ginger snaps, and Durkee’s. Much better than your recipe, which just doesn’t work. Sorry for the sarcasm: I feel your pain. (His recipe for black pepper tofu was a revelation. Thanks for the eggplant addition!)
Deb – I love your recipes and I rarely need to modify as you make them so simple! I hope the recipe history ‘for the other side of the world’ is coming back. Speaking from the other side of the world, I love being reminded of all the more seasonally appropriate recipes.
I was wondering if anyone noticed! (I added 6 months ago to the list.) It’s gotten so long and it takes so long to build (there’s no way to automate; believe me, I’ve begged), I don’t mind if everyone loves the section but I have to check once in a while and see if anyone is paying attention. :)
My family’s Taiwanese and this sauce is basically the basis for so much. Cook ground pork in it and throw over noodles. Cook short ribs in it. Cook assorted vegetables in it. Throw sesame oil in it as needed. Soy sauce, brown sugar, and pepper quantities can be adjusted to taste. It’s the best thing ever!
My husband grew up in the South eating BBQ and fiery chicken wings and for many years, he didn’t think a meatless dish could qualify as “dinner.” But he loves this black pepper tofu. It’s not just that he’ll eat it — he requests it. Deb is right that it’s quite time-consuming, so maybe I’ll try the oven next time. I add parboiled kale and serve with rice. Oh and after slicing the brick of tofu in half and wrapping them in paper towels, I top them with a cookie sheet and weigh it down with Ottolenghi cookbooks (or the nearest heavy objects) to squeeze out more of the water.
I love your blog and your recipes and your comments!! You rock!
Hi, will it be too mushy if I peel the eggplant? Thanks, everyone.
I don’t think so. I think that the eggplant might collapse more but to me, that’s not a dealbreaker especially if you don’t like the skins.
I’ll start off by saying that I just moved into a new place, and the knob to set my oven temperature had all the numbers rubbed off – what’s life without whimsy, eh?
Otherwise, I made this recipe as noted, but using a little bit more onion (maybe 1.5 cups) because I was on autopilot and very hungry while slicing.
The sauce was delicious, the extra onion was completely fine too, but the tofu stuck to the sheet pan and the eggplant skins were roughly the texture of dried oak leaves. I did still eat and enjoy the dish, but I’m not sure I would present it proudly to others with the leathery eggplant skin.
Are my textural issues explainable by my perhaps-25-to-35-degrees-off situation? It’s an embarrasing question to ask, but I don’t know when the new knob is coming. I used avocado oil, and I did preheat it in the sheet pan, with only minor sputtering and swearing upon adding the eggplant and tofu.
Anyways thanks for all the great recipes and flexibility – way before I followed your site regularly, I first cooked your ratatouille for friends in college and it was an instant hit – I still make it very regularly for groups and enjoy the opportunity to use whatever veggies look good (read as, are going bad soon). Nowadays, whenever I unveil a new concoction to my partner, his first question is, is this a Deb recipe? We’re both fans.
I suspect it was either too hot an oven or an old eggplant. Firm, fresh eggplants should collapse obligingly into soft mush with tasty skin. Still, slathered with this sauce even oak leaves go down fine.
I used low-sodium soy sauce and it was still a little salty, but we gobbled it up. (I might try with 2 oz next time, and 2 oz broth ). I added a little cilantro and scallions, and some sambal.
Will make again!!
All the good food… and the best laughs! Thanks, Deb, for everything. My family thanks you a million times over, too.
I’ve been making this recipe for years, with almost all of these exact adjustments, down to the amount of butter you suggest! I haven’t ever considered baking the tofu for fear of losing that extra crispiness that happens when it’s fried. That being said, you’ve convinced me to try it. My husband and I love this recipe so much, it’d be nice if it came together a bit quicker! I usually have the oven on to make roasted broccoli anyway (sooo good as a side w/ the tofu piled on top of some rice – but I’ll have to try with eggplant!).
We made this for dinner tonight, it was delicious. I went easy on the soy sauce, and will use even less next time. It was too hot to turn the oven on so we did the the tofu and eggplant on the grill using a veggie basket. It needed to be watched closely but it worked well. Thanks!
I loooooove this recipe in Plenty. And here’s the truth: I also don’t have 3 kinds of soy sauce so I did exactly what Deb did and used 1 kind and some brown sugar. I’m not a huge fan of eggplant but I’d give this variation a try because I think some veg is always a good addition.
This was delicious! Also loved the preface about commenters. Here’s the thing – I like to know WHY someone made changes or substitutions: convenience, allergy, preference, dietary needs, etc.
I live in a hot and humid climate so I refuse to turn on the oven. I used the toaster oven for the tofu and lined the pan with nonstick foil. Did not use cornstarch because I planned on using it later anyway.
For the eggplant, I lined a plate with paper towel and sprayed with oil the. Placed eggplant on top. Zapped it for 1.5 minutes until tender then browned in oil quickly.
I thickened the sauce slightly with cornstarch and water. I added a touch of sambal instead of the full tablespoon of black pepper. I wanted a vinegary kick and it was perfect!
Next time I will make double so I can have leftovers! Might even add a splash of fish sauce too!
I made this last night and added in some zucchini with the eggplant, which added some sweeter bites to the dish that I really enjoyed. The tofu is the crispiest that I’ve ever made and I’ll keep using this technique in the future! I was vegetarian for 12 years, so I made a lot of not-so-crispy tofu using various techniques. This technique is a winner!
That said, it was a little bit bitter and saltier than I’d like, even though I reduced the amount of soy sauce that I used to 5TB + 3TB of water. I’ll use even less soy sauce in the future and probably throw in some chili peppers into the sauce for a little more heat.
I used 2TB of tamari soy sauce (GF) on making this again just now, PERFECT saltiness this time! This recipe is a keeper!
It was probably too hot today to put the oven up to 425F, but I made this anyway. I like it a lot, and another big thumbs up from the vegetarian husband. Nice crispiness on the tofu. Did it with short grain brown rice. Really nice.
When I saw tofu, I scrolled on by. Then I thought I could make it with just eggplant (thanks, CSA) so I circled back, and am so glad I did. First for the laughs. And because this post is really about substitutions, I decided to go ahead and try it with the tofu as written. Delicious, and something I can’t wait to make again.
I roasted everything on a silpat to avoid potential sticking – is this a no-no for high temps? And, I cooked the shallots in 2tbs butter plus 1 tbs oil because at some point I read you can cook at a higher temp without burning the butter if you sub a bit of oil so I always do that.
Delicious! I served it over chopped romaine. It added a nice crunch and freshness.
Despite the fact that I am no friend of eggplant and am picky about tofu, I decided to tackle this as part of a plant-based diet effort. It is amazing – rich and spicy and wonderful. Don’t make my mistake and line your sheet pan with tin foil – the tofu stuck to it something awful. I plopped the eggplant right on the (hot, oiled) sheet pan and had no sticking issues whatsoever. Great adaptation, Deb!
Yum, I made this by the recipe (to the very best of my ability). I def had more eggplant and therefore my tray was full up. No prob, the tofu fit perfectly on the toaster oven tray. I will probably continue to make it that way. I did add green onions at the end. Next time, perhaps sesame seeds as well. My thanks are usually unspoken, so I will vehemently say thank you Deb!
PS I used parchment on both pans (only oiled the eggplant pan) and was very very happy with the results (and subsequent cleanup).
Loved it! I baked the eggplant and tofu on parchment paper because I didn’t feel like washing a pan and it still turned out crispy and great. I thought it was a bit too salty even if I used low sodium soy sauce so I’d recommend skipping the salt when roasting the eggplant and tofu.
I made this today for our family dinner today and it was delicious. I only had half as much soy as called for, so subbed veggie broth, and I wimped out on the black pepper — I only put in a teaspoon and a half. In any event, the eggplant and tofu were super easy to prepare and had a great texture, and the sauce was so good. Thank you!
Thank you for the wonderful recipe! I made it today to break my Monday fast and it was delish… I did make a few changes – I worry what goes into Soy sauce and eat it sparingly. I reduced the soy sauce to 2 tb spoons and added a couple of table spoons of peanut butter and tahini dissolved in water. Hubby vegan, so I sub peanut oil for butter.
I made the original recipe (to the letter!) a couple of times and I was blown away by the intensity of the flavours. I think it’s very useful to prepare a recipe as it was intended at least once before you make alterations. For me that’s always a true learning moment. If you always ‘wing’ it, you’ll never do something that seems silly at first, but turns out to be genius.
WOW – this was so delicious and easy to prepare. We got home last night from a long, exhausting weekend and I was able to whip this up without much effort. It was outstanding. I think next time I want to figure out how to add more veggies, like maybe dicing some mushrooms and adding them to the sauce. There is a little leftover and I can’t wait to have it for lunch!
Made this over the weekend as written (using the 2 tbsp of butter option) really enjoyed, will probably purchase low sodium soy sauce for the next go-round, it was a little on the salty side. I used two regular sized eggplants and two containers of tofu (16 oz as opposed to 14) and needed two sheet pans. Not sure how eggplant AND tofu could fit on the same one, but I find this a lot with written recipes, I’m not sure if I’m too afraid to overcrowd the pan but I find that I need two where usually only one is recommended.
Does the pre-cooked eggplant need to be salted to remove bitterness?
I don’t find it bitter and don’t presalt, ever. But if it bothers you, you can.
1 tablespoon of Crushed black pepper is just too much!!!!!!!! I used less than half a tablespoon. You will end coughing and spluttering with too much pepper.
Delicious! everyone in the family loved it, though I had to laugh when my husband said, “Couldn’t you do it all on the stovetop?”
I made a double batch over the weekend and this recipe really delivered. I subbed celery for the shallots (I’m not allergic; I just have a deep and abiding dislike of everything in the onion family), and I served it over quinoa with sliced sugar snap peas. It was absolutely delicious!
Well, I’ve never done roasted tofu and knew it was a risk to change the recipe the first time out, but in the spirit of the post I forged ahead and made changes to accommodate my keto diet, and figured I’d just complain about it here.
So I pressed the tofu, and then just roasted it with a fair amount of oil (no toss in cornstarch first). It came out pretty well, but it was a little more “hard” than “crispy,” and it didn’t brown much at all — I suspect the starch helps a lot with the browning, and since it didn’t brown I didn’t think it was done yet, so I think I just plain overcooked it. But the eggplant was fantastic!
For the sauce, I:
– used onion instead of shallot (because it’s what I had on hand)
– omitted the sugar entirely (because keto)
– added a little xanthan gum (maybe 3/8 tsp or so?) near the end of cooking (to thicken and gloss up the sauce, since the sugar would’ve done that)
– added a dash of rice vinegar at the end (because I thought it needed a little acid)
Finally, I ate it with zucchini noodles (instead of rice, because keto). My Chinese partner had it with coconut rice (and lime wedges), and said it reminded him of Singaporean street food — which is pretty much the highest praise I’ve ever heard from him about anything I’ve ever cooked.
Even with the texture of the tofu not-quite-perfect, this was an A++ will definitely make again!
Somehow I find I can put a little more effort in if I am making one of your recipes than i would on a normal evening. I guess it’s knowing that I trust that you made the recipe as simple as possible but still as delicious as possible!
This was worth the extra effort, and SOOOO TASTY (with minor subs, of course, due to… never mind.)
And my spouse reported that it would be a new favorite, fyi.
Made this last night, halved the recipe, subbed leeks for the shallot, added a few mushrooms (sautéed separately & stirred in with the tofu & eggplant. So so good! Will be making this a million times. Already recommended it to 3 people,
I have actually made the original and found it too rich and spicy… also wishing for something else to be added in the dish. I think this is a great adaptation. Can’t wait to try it and also hear other people’s thoughts. Thank you!
This is delicious! I used parchment paper which was great in the cleanup phase. Put the tofu on one half sheet and eggplant on the other.
Next time, I’m going to add some mushrooms!!
This was very easy and delicious! I added some baby book choy on the side for some greens.
I have one question on tossing the tofu and cornstarch. Is There a trick to tossing it evenly??
Oh, I feel so free to write about all my tiny modifications! One of the many reasons I love this blog- the food’s divine, of course, but the company’s swell too.
Made this tonight, heavy-handed with the black pepper. Since I had a lonely portion of fried noodles in my cabinet, I cooked those and folded them into the sauce alongside the tofu & eggplant instead of serving over rice. Saucy, soft, crunchy, a little rich, and absolutely delicious. If you’ve got a spice tolerance, the little acidic zing of sriracha is a nice condiment for the table with this!
I’m considering making it again this week with the zucchini I’m floating in, and suspect that’ll be delightful as well with this easy and fabulous roasting technique.
I adore Ottolenghi, but I also regularly reduce the amount of oil/butter by half or 2/3 and leave out a few of the ridiculously extravagant ingredients that I a) can’t find in a few kilometres radius and b) will not use often enough in order to not let them go bad. And you know what? Not one of those modified recipes has turned out bad – that’s how awesome the originals are. From Plenty, I absolutely love the soba noodles with mango and aubergine as well and we eat the quinoa salad with sweet potato and Iranian lime (without the Iranian lime by the way) at least twice per month every summer. Yummy.
I’ve wanted to make this recipe from Plenty for a while, but always balk at the amount of butter. When I saw your recipe I decided to finally go for it and combine some of your adaptations and techniques with Ottolenghi’s. It’s also throwback month in the Food52 Cookbook Club, so this was the perfect opportunity.
I loved the addition of the eggplant. What a great way to get more vegetables into the dish. I had a small eggplant that needed to be used, so I tossed it in. In terms of other ingredients, I too have a toddler that would not eat this if there was chili peppers. I omitted those along with the scallions because I didn’t have that many and didn’t feel like cutting them. I used an onion instead of shallots, but I do wish I had used the full 12 oz (as in Plenty) instead of 1 heaping cup. I used 5 cloves of garlic as you suggested because that’s all I had, but I would have been happy using more.
The technique of roasting instead of frying was great. So much more hands off and both reduces the fat content and waste of oil.
For the sauce, I followed Ottolenghi’s ingredient list using the combo dark, light, and sweet soy sauce, but only 1 tbsp sugar. I had all the soy sauces on hand so I figured I would use them. I should have omitted or reduced the sugar further. The dish was pretty sweet. Finally, I took your permission to reduce the butter from 11 tbsp to 4. Definitely a smart move.
Thanks for a great recipe and giving me the motivation to give it a try with a few adaptations.
Excellent recipe! I made it yesterday pretty much as written and it was quick, easy, and really good served with brown rice. Have leftovers for lunch today, yum.
So delicious and easy! I made 4 batches at one go, it was as easy as making one batch.
A Bristish friend introduction me to Ottolenghi’s cooking with his fabulous Barley Rissotto w/garlic & tomatoes -if you haven’t tried it, you are in for a treat!
This was good, especially the eggplant. I love black pepper, so I’ll make it again. Notes: A. it was still quite salty, despite my using only 4 tablespoons soy sauce (2 ‘regular’, 2 dark), but I usually don’t use much salt in my cooking. B. Next time I will use regular firm tofu, not the pre-pressed rectangles from my local Asian store – they got a little too hard while I was waiting for them to brown. C. I will serve it with lots of broccoli next time, too.
PS – loved watching the interview! Thanks for including it.
UPDATE: I had leftovers with barely steamed broccoli – a match made in heaven. The eggplant was even better on day 2.
Wow!!! I folllowed the recipe exactly and it was delicious! The heat was spot on – so much flavor with a nice lingering warmth – that we didn’t add anything extra. Per every other review … my husband was skeptical when he saw tofu on the cutting board, but was completely won over with the first bite. I love that the sauce thickens on it’s own, with no need for added cornstarch. I did have trouble with some of the tofu sticking to the pan, but I blame my baking sheet not the recipe. We will definitely be making this again and again.
Be very careful with the salt in this recipe! I accidentally used salted butter (facepalm, I know), and I used reduced sodium soy sauce, which I guess might be different than low sodium? Anyway, the sauce was almost inedibly salty. I was able to salvage the dish by leaving all the salt off the eggplant and tofu, and I ended up with something intensely tasty and complex.
I would make this again, but next time I’ll definitely use unsalted butter, and I’ll start with half the soy sauce and go from there. Deb, how many mg of sodium per tablespoon does yours have?
I just made this with no substitutions of ingredients;-) Tofu took a little longer by about 5 minutes on convection bake to get crispy (because I can). Did not use parchment paper to get the crispiest tofu I could (as per instructions). Will likely eat it with rice and maybe make some Farro. (Made it for my lunch and my family’s dinner). Overall very tasty, but found it way too salty for my liking (even using low sodium soy sauce). Maybe ½ water ½ soy sauce next time?
Looking forward to trying this! Can i use Grapeseed Oil to roast my tofu?
Wowww. I made this for dinner and it was phenomenal. I did have problems with the tofu sticking :( but the flavour will make me attempt again. I think next time I would use even more eggplant, because it really shrinks down when cooked at high heat for a half hour.
I love what you wrote about following recipes. My sentiments exactly. The perfectionist world is overtaking one of life’s simple pleasures. The kitchen is a great place to play and experiment and see what works for you, or doesn’t? This is how food has evolved over time and place. Recipes are a great starting point for food exploration, development and individuality – unless of course you are running a restaurant and need to have complete consistent control for customer experience, and keeping on top of your costings??
I made this with 2 huge eggplants and only 1 garlic clove- it worked out nicely with very intense flavour. Usually I am to impatient for Ottolengi recipes, but after you streamlining them, I am all for it!
Thank you for another awesome meal!
I made this and thought the eggplant was the absolute best part, thank you so much for this delicious tweak!
A surprise second night hit!
Made it by loosely following recipe. Due to an abundance of eggplant, I cooked tofu and eggplant on separate sheet pans. Used a combination of light tamari, dark soy sauce and thin soy sauce (because I live close to the amazing worldly Buford Highway Farmer’s Market and cook a good deal of Asian style dishes). Proportions vaguely followed Ottolenghi’s version. Tofu was crunchy and delicious.
Eggplant tasted good on first night and then fabulous on second night. It became a silky, rich, peppery gooey delight. Will make eggplant only version again. Pondering something crunchy to add besides tofu. We had fresh edamame on the side, but that’s a limited seasonal treat and I avoid the frozen ones that are mostly imported.
I made this last night for my husband and I, it came together pretty quickly and was delicious! It didn’t make a TON of food — I like to have a few meals worth of leftovers — we got about 3 portions worth. I’m enjoying it for lunch currently, it reheated easily in a skillet. Next time I might add a bell pepper to the onion mixture before making the sauce for a sweeter note throughout. I think a handful of fresh or frozen spinach at the end for some greens would be a nice addition too. Definitely a versatile recipe.
Thanks, Deb! I love Ottolenghi but his books are definitely not where I typically turn for an *easy* weeknight meal.
This was everything I dreamed it would be and more. Fabulous!!
The black pepper tofu and eggplant introduced me to a new technique to get that “fried” consistency for tofu without demolishing the kitchen. I added a small amount of pork to the sauce and it worked well.
The baked tofu technique is one I will use over and over. Thank you!
Made this tonight and it was awesome! Hubby who is not a huge fan of tofu or eggplant really liked it, said it’s his favorite tofu recipe so far! My only complaint was that the sauce was a bit too salty (I did use low sodium soy sauce) so next time I might add some water so tone down the salt a bit. Otherwise, a really great recipe that I will definitely make again!
I made this tonight aaaaaand I changed two pretty important ingredients by accident. We recently moved and I didn’t realize until half way through that I didn’t have fresh ginger OR garlic. I used powders instead and it was still incredibly delicious. I’m thinking about going to pick at the left overs now. Even my meat loving husband loved this. The kids ate it (only the tofu and rice, can’t win them all). I can’t wait to make it again properly.
Made this last night. OMG so delicious!! Only alteration I made was to scatter a little cilantro and shredded scallion on top. But. Um. How do I say this delicately? I need a gas mask. Just me? Anyone else?
This recipe sounded so good when it popped up on your Facebook feed. Made it last night for my husband and a visiting friend. Kind of a funny, “I’m an idiot” story of making it though…
I got everything prepped, turned on the oven, oiled the pan. Things were on track. After I put the eggplant on the pan, I realized I hadn’t put the pan in the oven first. No problem…I put it in while I got the tofu ready. A few minutes later, pulled it out, placed the tofu on the pan and returned the pan to the oven. I did notice some smoke in the oven, but didn’t think much of it. (I am ashamed to admit we’re not the most diligent cleaners of said oven.) Several minutes go by and the smoke is getting worse. I pull the pan out and realize just how much of an idiot I am. My largest baking sheet is rimless. My thinking was that the light layer of oil would be absorbed by the eggplant and tofu, not run off the sides onto the oven floor. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
So I went to Cooking Plan B and pan roasted the eggplant and tofu while the sauce cooked up in another pan. The smoke cleared out and we enjoyed the dish over some jasmine rice, topped with scallions. I did use much less pepper than written, more by accident than intention. I’ll make this again, maybe even with a rimmed baking sheet. ;-)
Oh dear. This sounds terrible! I’ve been scanning the comments bc I made this last night and LOVED IT – instant keeper of a recipe, except for one thing – – The hot oiled pans made the house and everything in it smell terrible! The only suitable oil I had onhand was some regular old store brand vegetable oil, so I used that. I’m thinking/hoping either the oil was a bit old/off, or maybe I let it get a little tooooo hot. I had no sticking issues though! Just wondered if anyone else felt like they lived in a greasy cafeteria after cooking this. I’ll be buying some good quality oil in the coming days :)
Wow, made as written and this is the best tofu dish I’ve ever made. It’s so good, I would even say it’s worth a trip to a different grocery store besides my beloved Aldi to get shallots. Thanks, Deb, for another great one!
Oh my goodness! This was TERRIFIC! Just ate it for dinner with some tomatoes and string beans on the side. I took the soy sauce down to 1/3 cup, based on some of the comments about it being too salty. Perfecto! Another Deb winner!
I’m growing Asian eggplant in my garden this year and saw this recipe…it’s so yummy! Eggplant and tofu are both vehicles for whatever spices/sauces they end up in. I also made coconut rice to go with this. A keeper for sure! Thanks.
Incredible!!! Had to wait for my homegrown eggplant to get big enough but so worth it. Fell back in love with tofu. The black pepper perfect amount. Best thing I’ve made in long time. Thanks
this is delicious! a little bit of work to chop up all the shallots and garlic and ginger; it took me more like 90 mins, but it was so worth it!!! who knew cornstarch was the trick to crispy tofu??
Absolutely delicious! My husband loves it & I have just finished making this for the 2nd time in a week (his request). We have a small garden with an abundant crop of Japanese eggplant & this is just perfect. I’m going to buy some tofu for when I make it a 3rd time. It’s just a great taste of Chinese takeout that I feel good about making myself. We love it with basmati rice. Thank you!!
This was amazing and tasted exactly the way I wanted it to. I cannot wait to make it again
This was super good! Really peppery! Placed over rice with crunchy dry noodles on top. YUM!
This so good! To die for! I ate it with cauliflower rice.
This was marvelous. The best umami flavor I’ve ever tasted at home-thank you so much! We were low on soy so made up the difference with maggi. Oh and we only had salted butter. But oh was it good!
We very much enjoyed this! I added sliced shiitake mushrooms roasted on a small cookie sheet as some of the comments suggested. I had to buy more tofu after realizing there is a difference between extra firm “silken” tofu and regular tofu. Don’t buy the silken tofu! We will make this again!
I read here a lot, make and love many of the recipes, and have given your books as gifts, but have never felt the need to comment until now.
THANK YOU for making a simpler version of this recipe. I have Plenty and have never been able to bring myself to make this because it’s such a faff. Ottolenghi’s books are beautiful but even he knows his recipes have this reputation (see the intro to Simple).
I am going to try this as soon as the weather cools down here in London and I can use my oven again!
Long time reader here with a bit of a PSA…
I was worried my rimmed half sheet pan would be too small for the eggplant+tofu, so I used an un-rimmed cookie sheet. I’m a little embarrassed to report that 3 T. of oil on a flat cookie sheet is bound to run off the sheet and, in my case, start a grease fire inside the oven. Billows of black smoke and many quietings of the smoke detector later, I finished the dish and it was delicious! I served it with beautiful jade rice and a heaping scoop of spicy chili crisp–a new condiment to me that is disturbingly tasty. Happy cooking!
Great recipe, our tummies said yum. Took a bit of time but that was kind of expected. Per the spirit of the headnote I did make a few small changes. I had some mushrooms that needed to be used so I quartered them and added to the eggplant. The roasted mushrooms added an earthy accent, which we liked. Also, I added a diced serrano pepper to the eggplant. In the sauce I used a couple teaspoons of ground szechuan peppercorns, which added a nice buzz to the dish. And I topped everything with a bit of chopped cilantro. Thanks for great inspiration – will make this one again.
lovely treatment of tofu and eggplant. Too peppery for our taste, though: I would reduce the pepper a bit and use a finer grind. The red onion for the shallots was a nice option.
we enjoyed this, BUT take the low sodium soy sauce seriously. I used regular (what I had) without eliminating other salt and it the result was way too salty.
Deb, my husband and I made this with some eggplant from our garden and it was incredible! I had some ground pork so I sauteed that with a little chili oil and mixed it in with everything else. It was SO GOOD, my husband said it was the best thing he ever had with eggplant, tofu, OR pork!! High praise, I felt like a wizard.
You’re the best!
I DO remember when you interviewed him. That was so fun–and you joked about people changing his recipes and sort of mentioned his babka as an aside, and we all laughed because we all knew you adapted his babka–but he doesn’t know that.
I love him and he is inspiring and all that, but let’s be real, even his “SIMPLE” recipes need to be adapted to real life sometimes. Thanks for doing this important work.
Thank you for inspiring me to finally attempt cooking tofu! Your method worked; it was the crispiest, yummiest tofu I’ve ever eaten if I do say so myself. Amazing recipe and flavor, I roasted up some broccoli along with the eggplant. I didn’t put it into the sauce but mixed with tofu, rice and sriracha and it was great.
Just made it and it’s absolutely brilliant. My tofu took ages to bake up crisp but that just might be the tofu i bought. I only had dark soy sauce so used less than 1/4 cup and added a bit of water.
I appreciate your comments in regard to recipe changers. I have always wondered about that myself, and you’re right–some of us are purists, some are free wheelers and lots are in between. All of that aside, though, I would urge you to make the dish to the letter also because it’s unbelievably good. We make it all the time and it’s an all time favorite.
Had the peach bourbon smash for a cocktail and this crazy dish for dinner. Off the hook. The flavors are spectacular.
My husband made this last night and it was delicious! The leftovers held up great for lunch today too. It was a bit salty for us, even though we used low-sodium soy sauce and a minimal amount of salt elsewhere; so next time we’ll try less soy sauce- maybe swap in some rice vinegar?
Deb – I am just awful at gently separating things like cornstarch coated tofu from baking sheets. It may be due to lack of a sufficiently thin spatula or (more likely) lack of patience and a deft touch. Could I roast the tofu on an oiled silpat or oiled sheet of parchment, or will that impede browning? Thanks for the delicious food inspiration!
It will impede browning. I highly recommend everyone buy a flexible fish spatula (mine has been going strong for 9+ years now); it’s the only kind I use. And yes, once things are crisp and brown, they release more easily.
OMG I am such a convert on crisping up tofu using this method. Hellooo hands off, no oil splatters, and crispier texture than pan frying. I also tried this with firm tofu, hoping for a more silken interior and crispy exterior, but it’s a bit too delicate for this technique. The recipe is also great – I’ve made variants several times already!
I used 1/4 cup soy sauce and 1/4 water. I found it to be way too salty. I did add more water to the sauce near the end as I thought it was too thick. My eggplant browned nicely, and although the tofu did crisp nicely, it never browned. I will make this again but I will buy some low sodium soy sauce for it. I also used 1/2 tsp ground pepper instead of the cracked pepper as I don’t like to get a bite of peppercorn, This seemed to be the right amount. I’ve done very little tofu cooking as I am usually disappointed in it. This is the best tofu dish I have made so far.
I really want to try this, but eggplant historically makes me gag. Does anyone have creative suggestions for something instead? I had kinda considered broccoli, but feel like there must be some wonderful idea I hadn’t considered.
Husband gets hives when he eats eggplant. First time I made this with roasted zucchini, yellow bell pepper, green beans and added pineapple into the sauce. Last night’s version had roasted zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, red bell pepper, doubled the sauce (last time it didn’t seem like enough) and added 2 small tangerines. Really, we think any combo of vegetables you like will taste fantastic because it’s all about the sauce!!
Delicious! My neighbor grows eggplants and I (try to) turn them into yummy dishes! I embraced your words about feeling free to add/delete/change and added a bit of ground beef that needed to be used up and made more sauce to cover all the yumminess. Dinner is served! Thank you 😊
I actually had a terrible failure with this recipe, although it’s totally my own fault. I somehow missed (even though it’s mentioned in at least two places) that you have to use low sodium soy sauce. However, what really killed this recipe was how flustered I was when I cooked it.
I’d planned to make it for a normal family dinner at home but then we had unexpected guests and I decided to double the recipe. Then the husband of our guest, who I’d never met before, INSISTED on helping me, which I did not want. He told me he’d been to culinary school, had worked as a chef, and then he made disparaging comments about my kitchen. All of which made me feel very incompetent. And then, far too late, I realized I had the wrong type of soy sauce, and I think at that point I somehow just gave up. I was so flustered I could hardly read the recipe and the sauce turned out to be very thin and liquid, rather than rich and thick like in the photograph.
In the end it was edible. At least the rice, which I didn’t salt, helped to soak up the extra saltiness in the sauce. And we had plenty of wine and the dessert (the Smitten Kitchen salted caramel pretzel blondies!) was delicious. If I’d been with guests I felt comfortable with, we could have laughed about it, but this guy was such a jerk, it was not a pleasant meal.
tldr: Don’t be mean to someone who’s cooking you a meal. Don’t brag about your experience as a chef in front of someone who’s just about to cook you a meal. Don’t make mean comments about the kitchen of the person who’s about to cook you a meal.
I will try this recipe again when I’m in a better frame of mind and I’m sure it will be delicious.
Can I say this? What a terrible guest! Bad banners! Ugh. I hope you get to make it again and delight in how delicious it can be when nobody is killing your vibe.
I made a second attempt at this recipe and it was delicious! So I guess having a rude bully in the kitchen with you will make your cooking suffer.
AILEEN, I would have given the bully store-bought cookies for dessert and saved all the blondies for myself and the husband. Jerks don’t deserve salted caramel pretzel anything.
This was so good I don’t even have words. Hub puts it in top three things I’ve made.
I only had half of the soy sauce called for, but it was incredible. I’ll be using this method for other tofu dishes in the future (especially when I don’t feelike pan frying).
From the other comments, it sounds like the half soy sauce worked well because it was full sodium tamari
This looks great, will try it tomorrow. A little embarassed now to ask this simple question, but in the first para, what’s the “1 tablespoon oil and a few pinches of salt” for? Do you toss the eggplant with it before roasting?
Also would consider swapping potato for the tofu.
Yes, I do.
I made this with (1lb) ground pork instead of tofu, and WOW! The best szechuan egglant I’ve ever managed to produce. OK, I did cheat a bit with my Chinese coworker’s authentic szechuan pepper, but it’d have been stupendous without it already.
I loooove this recipe as-is. I’ve also made a double batch of the sauce and used it as a marinade for chicken. Tasty both ways!
This is unbelievably delicious! I was a little skeptical of it appearing rather heavy in the photo, but the flavors and textures were vibrant, silky, and seductive. I made it a few weeks ago with skinny Japanese eggplants and the skin texture turned out really nicely. I ended up using 1/4 cup + 1 Tbs reduced sodium soy sauce and was glad I didn’t make it saltier, even though I love salty things. My other adaptations were 2 tsp black pepper plus one thinly sliced red chile, and tossing in two handfuls of steamed green beans at the end. I’m making it again tonight…
I followed this recipe but found the sauce much to pungent. I would use less onion & garlic next time. Also, I did not love the crunch of the tofu & would omit the cornstarch on the next go. The dish benefited from a handful of cilantro and I would add some grape tomatoes to the mix.
Made this and love it. If you don’t have a super thin spatula try one that is for flipping fish
Oh yummy! I did not follow the directions as closely as I intended but I really liked the results. Thank you.
OMG … I just made this recipe – as written — and it is delicious! Please keep simplifying Ottolenghi recipes :-)
oh. my. god. this is amazing! this recipe is like ordering the best take-out only it is home made and even better. it also converted my husband to tofu.
we’ve made this per the recipe, modified with bok choy and/or shitake mushrooms, eaten it over soba noodles. no matter what, YUM.
This was amazing. I second all the comments that ask you to please, please keep modifying Ottolenghi recipes! I love his food, but dear lord, even before I had kids the level of complication could drive me batty and now it’s impossible.
This was great! Appreciate the mods from ottolenghi’s recipe. I made it as written with a few minor tweaks– added some red chillis and sugar snap peas (to supplement the one, tiny lowly eggplant I grew in my garden this year)– and it was delicious! thanks Deb :)
This was so tasty!
My only comment was it was a little too greasy. I think next time (and there will be next time!) I will let the tofu/eggplant sit on some paper towels to remove excess oil before I add to the sauce.
I’ve made this recipe a couple times now and it was great both times. I roasted the eggplant and tofu on parchment paper to cut down on the amount of oil. I also cut the butter down to 1 tbs. Delicious!
This was absolutely delicious. My kids even liked it! I had two big helpings. But later that evening I suffered some GI distress…LOL. Not sure why. I’m used to eating everything in this recipe except eggplant which I usually only eat in baba ganoush. Could that have been the culprit? Or maybe all the pepper? Anyway, I’m eyeing the leftovers today but will have a smaller portion this time :)
I just made this and am blown away — it’s restaurant-level good. Made it exactly as written except that I pressed the tofu while prepping the rest of the ingredients. Served over short-grain rice with a little sesame oil shaken into it. I’ve had my eye on the Ottolenghi recipe (reproduced in the Food52 Genius Recipes cookbook) for years but have never taken the plunge in part because it seemed so fiddly. Maybe someday I’ll make the original but hard to imagine it will top this.
Next time I might add some green scallion ends on top for color and crunch. I also meant to serve it with the Bon Appétit recipe for chile crisp but got impatient while it crisped up and used sambal oelek instead, so that’s something to look forward to.
I’ve never had a recipe from you fail but this one is an all-timer.
I just made this, and it was phenomenal!! Definitely on the make-again list. Like many others, I would make the sauce and use it on everything. I doubled the recipe because everyone said how good it was and I wanted leftovers. By mistake I bought pre-cubed tofu, so I just cooked it less. It was still crispy but slightly tough. It may have been the brand…. And I added some ground pork that I cooked separately and tossed in at the end (1/2 lb for a doubled recipe—could have added the whole pound); it was delish! Next time I may just use eggplant and pork and maybe some mushrooms or other veggies in the sauce. It’s not vegan, but neither am I! I didn’t use much salt on the eggplant or tofu and my soy sauce was low-sodium, so I didn’t have a problem with the saltiness. That much pepper may be what gave it a salty-like bite, but I didn’t salt my rice either, so it wasn’t a problem. Definite thumbs up!!
I am making this recipe right now and I cannot find what the oil with the salt in a bowl is for? IT is mentioned in the recipe but then there is nothing about what to do with it?
In the previous sentence, you “Trim eggplant and cut eggplant into 1-inch pieces.” Then, you toss it with the oil and salt in a large bowl.
This sounds delicious, even to a non-gravid person. And you are, as always, very gracious. But, I would expect people who change half the ingredients and the cooking method to, perhaps, leave comments and suggestions, but not RATE the recipe. How are you rating the frickin’ recipe? You did not make it!
How can we use the star ratings as a guide if they don’t relate to the recipe as written?
It reminds me of the one star Amazon review I read. Points were deducted because the dress didn’t look good with the woman’s shoes! Thanks for sharing. But this is not likely to be a problem for anyone else.
I am confused by this having a “dairy-free” tag, since it contains butter.
Whoops, it should list oil as a swap.
Oooph, I followed the directions to put sunflower oil on the baking sheet. It got everywhere in the oven and smoked like crazy. Good thing I caught it before I nearly burned the house down. I’ll be sticking to the stovetop for the rest of this recipe.
I made Ottolenghi’s version a few weeks ago. It was good but as his version doesn’t involve a vegetable, it needs a side which I didn’t feel like making as it took forever to make the tofu. This solves all those issues! It was absolutely delicious, quicker and easier to make and is a complete meal. Would make this over the original any day!
Hi! I’ve never commented here before, but I’ve been a fan for many years. This was the first meal I made for my new boyfriend and, as was mentioned below, it was so salty it was inedible. I did substitute liquid aminos for soy sauce, which might have been the culprit. Maybe there’s an error in the quantity of soy sauce though.
Everything I’ve made from your site and cookbook has been very consistently good and hopefully I can convince new boyfriend that I can cook things! Or better yet, he can cook things for me! Thanks for all your recipes over the years!
This was amazing. I probably crowded the pan a bit too much but it still turned out fantastic. Your picture of the dish is way more flattering than what mine looked like (for some reason, my dish came out way more gray) but I am already craving it again. Also, I didn’t have low sodium soy sauce so I diluted regular sodium soy sauce with water. Served this with coconut rice.
This was amazing! Following your instructions to the letter obviously helped: no stuck tofu! Husband who hates tofu even loved it. Thanks!!!
So this is a great recipe. The sauce, as my mother in law pointed out, goes with damned near everything. More importantly: this is now the only way my husband will eat tofu. Tonight I was planning on some smoked tofu as our protein and I hear from the peanut gallery, “Hey is it too much of a pain to make the tofu the way you made it with that eggplant thing?” Turns out, with a pre-heated pie pan with a glug of cooking oil in it, it is not! Easy peasy.
I’ve also discovered that freezing tofu makes it much less likely to stick.
I whimped out. I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle this much soy sauce or black pepper, but couldn’t resist making the recipe. I dialed the (low sodium) soy sauce down to 2 tbsp and the black pepper all the way down to 1/4 tsp. Switched the shallots for an onion and bunch of spring onion. It has become our most repeated and frequently eaten dish. My husband who’s been known to smother his food with a heap of black pepper, doesn’t reach for the pepper mill. It works best if a slightly underbake the eggplant so it desolves into the sauce. Same for the tofu which gets chewy rather then extra crispy if baked for too long. Either way, it’s still great.
Worth the effort! And the effort wasn’t anywhere near a Ottolenghi recipe. Yum.
Why do you coat the tofu in cornstarch?
Helps get it to crisp
This recipe has become a family favourite and is on constant repeat!
Tried this tonight, and will try it again. But I’ll take out the eggplant after 20 minutes. I may go back to freezing the tofu, thawing it (when I decide to make this dish), and it, too will roast for only 20 minutes. I think I’ll use a red onion instead of shallots. And I will use way less butter. 3 Tbsp butter made the eggplant and tofu GREASY. Maybe 2 tbsp will be enough. Someone way back in the earlier comments mentioned rice vinegar and I’m going to try that. But this is still a GOOD dish! It’s just not quite to my taste. Yet.
This is SO GOOD!!! made exactly as written… my husband – who actively dislikes tofu- ate this up! Thank you!
In the true spirit of your delightful notes, I abused this recipe badly, and it was delicious.
Reduced butter to 2T, whirred the shallots and ginger in the food processor, added lots of green onions to the sauce, doubled the eggplant, lined my baking tray with foil, forgot the cornstarch entirely, and just kind of smacked the sauce onto the roasted stuff cause it wouldn’t fit in the saucepan. Still salty, peppery, decadent, and going into the household cookbook.
This was crazy delicious. I didn’t quite have enough room for the eggplant and tofu on one pan – maybe use two pans so everything has room to roast. I only had regular sodium soy sauce – it was still really good, but intensely salty. I’ll get low sodium soy sauce next time. I may also add some broccoli or other green veggie next time.
In a strange turn of events, I did not have regular soy sauce, only dark soy sauce. So I used 4 teaspoons of that plus a glug of black vinegar and a few teaspoons of water. Pretty delicious! That really is a gorgeous sauce.
Delicious, but rich. And salty. Next time I’ll cut down (or leave out) the butter and use a 1/4 C of low-sodium soy sauce to 1/4 C of water. I also think one inch cubes of tofu are rather large, no?
I made this and though I love eggplant and tofu, I found it much too rich and salty for my taste. I guess you could cut back on the soy and replace with water, but it’s a no for me. I really disliked this dish. I added hot sauce and cilantro to bring in an element of freshness, but it still wasn’t great.
I’m back! My boyfriend ate two plates, so what do I know? He loved this dish and called it a keeper.
I made this the other day and it was overwhelmingly wonderful. Definitely going to be big on repeats. Thanks Deb.
There’s a difference between innovating a recipe and appropriating it to match your taste. I wouldn’t say this is culturally insensitive; rather, it’s just a reflection of your arrogance coupled with an ignorance on how to make Chinese food. Simply put, recipes like this are wildly unsophisticated.
Why would anyone post such a snarky comment? Mean and totally uncalled for.
SJFDKSF, after attacking someone like this in such a hurtful way, I hope you are able to get outside, breathe in and out a few times, clear your head and heart and proceed thereafter with kindness.
What does your comment even MEAN?! Are you a real person or an arrogant-cross-sectional-studies-major bot? If the latter, your creator is a genius!
I love this recipe! If anyone is interested you can airfry the tofu and eggplant for 10 mins on 200 c. With just a touch of cooking spray. I had mine with cauliflower rice seasoned with line and roasted peanuts.
Made this tonight. It was delicious! Thank you so much for all of the vegetarian recipes!
This is one of the best dishes I have EVER put on the table. I did make three modifications (sorry!): 1) I didn’t salt the eggplant because I figured my soy sauce would be salty enough; 2) I didn’t preheat the sheet pan or use so much oil – sprouted firm tofu crisps up well for me without oil; 3) After making the sauce, I used an immersion blender on it because my husband is persnickety about little bits of onion, garlic, etc. – this is totally not necessary of course, but wanted to mention that it worked well.
I love this recipe and it’s become a new weeknight fave. Or even weekend – it’s good any time. I wish there were more leftovers. When we want to impress visitors we make both this AND the cauliflower and tomato masala with peas. We fool our guests into thinking we know lots about Asian cooking! And it’s very low stress for us. https://smittenkitchen.com/2019/02/cauliflower-and-tomato-masala-with-peas/
This is delicious. I made it as written Monday and we liked it so much we are having it again. Thanks for adapting Ottolenghi recipes- his might be inspiring but yours are the gold standard around here. Keep them coming!
I added a red pepper to the pan once the shallots were tender and the roasted eggplant and tofu were almost done, which was a nice for a bit of colour.
Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly. Contrary to many comments, my partner and I didn’t think it was too salty and we served with sticky rice and chili garlic oil which was lovely!
This is going in the ol’ recipe rolodex. Thank you, Deb!
Your recipes are always a win!
This recipe was an absolute delight. I am an unfortunately slow cook (no idea why, everything just takes me longer), but this recipe was super easy and completely delicious. We inhaled it!
This was so great! I’d never baked tofu before, it comes out so puffy and nutty.
I’m salt sensitive, and even with using low-sodium soy sauce it was a little overwhelming. Next time I’ll cut half the soy sauce with water or broth. I added a little bit of chili-garlic sauce directly to the sauce before tossing with the tofu and eggplant, and ate it over white rice.
As a vegetarian, I have trouble finding successful tofu recipes that I can recreate at home. THIS! THIS, was absolutely the best tofu recipe I have ever made. Even my meat eating husband was licking his bowl clean. My only regret is that I should have bought a second eggplant as I already want to make it again, ASAP!
I must have done something wrong! It was soooo salty it was nearly inedible. Yes I used low sodium. Maybe I’ll mix soy sauce with broth next time.
Another winner from Deb! Made this for dinner and I will be fighting off my son for the leftovers! Particularly since we are under stay at home orders, I had to work with what’s on hand. I only had a 7oz package of Sesame/ginger tofu on hand. Instead of cornstarch, I coated it in a generous tbsp of nutritional yeast flakes. I followed Deb’s instructions with a preheated pan and I had no issues with sticking. The texture when cooked was perfect. In place of low-sodium soy sauce, I used 1/4 C tamari and 1/4 C water. It was plenty flavorful and salty enough. I had regular ground pepper and cut it back to a tsp. Two good sized shallots were sufficient. And due to lactose issues, I used ghee. It was fantastic and yummy and can’t wait to make it again.
This is just to say that holy shit was this delicious. I’ve never cooked with tofu before and this felt like an accessible introduction. Loved it.
Hey so I know a lot of people who have made this have found it unbearably salty. I have too! I’ve fiddled around with the ratio of regular soy sauce to water and maybe it’s the brand, but it always comes out tasting aggressively salty. SOLUTION (for people who can never remember to buy lite soy sauce even when it’s on the grocery list) If you taste the sauce and it’s too salty, throw in a glug of coconut milk. Taste again, if still too salty add another glug. Continue until the edge is gone.
Also, this sauce is fantastic with scallops.
That is all.
So frickin good! With my regular soy sauce that I think it saltier than most, I used 2 tbsp of soy sauce and 6 tbsp of water. Might even be good with 1 tbsp of reg soy sauce and 7 tbsp of water, because it was still a bit salty for me (but still delicious). I’d recommend tasting the soy/water/sugar/black pepper sauce pre simmering and adjusting water/soy ratio to taste. Since the onions simmer in the sauce before the eggplant and tofu are mixed in, they end up taking the brunt of the salt from the soy sauce. I’d still recommend salting the tofu and eggplant. Thanks Deb!
I just made this. OMG, it is divine!!!!! I used rapeseed oil in the sauce so it would be vegan. One of the nicest things I’ve eaten in ages. And it was quick and easy, but definitely didn’t taste quick. Thanks Deb!
I’ve made this twice so far, and both times were a big hit!
The biggest modification I’ve made is to toss the eggplant with a bit of egg white whipped with water and a dash of salt until coated, instead of tossing it with oil. Makes a world of difference!
Both times I made this with regular tamari sauce, which I diluted 50/50 with water and it’s plenty salty (and I’m a total salt-fiend). Second time, I added some pan-roasted broccoli to bulk it up a bit. 10 out 10, would make again.
This recipe + the BA Chile Crisp = BEST LUNCH EVER. I mean seriously this hits so many delicious notes. I have trouble limiting myself to 1 (or 2) bowls. Yummmm.
I will say that I have to roast the eggplant and tofu for almost an hour to achieve the crisp/roasted-ness that I prefer, but its SO HANDS OFF that I don’t care.
This recipe was delicious. I am just starting to cook more east Asian food and this made it easy. My husband loved it. I told a friend about it and she said: pepper eggplant has a lot of oil, doesn’t it? I shared the recipe and she was impressed with the roasting option. I added a little sriracha to the soy mixture. My tofu did get a little dry in the roasting so I think I cut the cubes a little small. My husband added chile oil on top.
I made this with tamari, and I could see the contours of a delicious dish within it, but it was super salty to the point, that my face and hands even swelled after! And I’m not usually sensitive to salt. If I don’t have low sodium soy sauce on hand, is there a way to adapt tamari to still get the same sauce coverage but without as much sodium? Like could I cut it with something? Thank you! Love your recipes. I’m making the butternut squash chickpea salad today, can’t wait.
My only concern with this dish is that the sheer glory of the tofu may not reach the vast audience it should. I tripled the tofu tonight and my picky eaters inhaled it while those of us who enjoy flavor had the full recipe. My meat loving husband and son love this dish, and for the first time in weeks no one complained about dinner.
On the suggestion of another commenter I chopped up a few stray mushrooms to roast with the eggplant and a few spare baby bok choy which I added to the onions 2 minutes before the soy sauce mixture. Mmmmmmmm.
This is really good. Next time I’ll borrow the sliced chiles from the Ottolenghi recipe, for extra bite. Used 2/3 the soy sauce, which was plenty.
I’ve made the roast tofu-broccoli recipe from SK Every Day several times. It’s a great technique/
This was absolutely delicious!!!
Easy and much more than the sum of its parts. I think next time I’ll use my food processor to make the shallot garlic and ginger into a paste before frying off in the butter as my chopping skills are often tempered by laziness.
Delicious. Even with a larger amount of tofu and eggplant, and going easy on the soy (after reading the “this is salty” comments).
how have I never roasted tofu before? My life is changed for the better!
thanks Deb (and commenters)
I recommend cutting the eggplant pieces a little bigger – more like an inch and a half, especially on the edge pieces. I cut mine an inch thick, with the edge pieces curving in to be smaller, and they were crispy and slightly burnt by the time I checked them. Bigger pieces gives you crispy *and* that soft gooey eggplant goodness!
Love your recipes, but didn’t love this one yet. Comments / changes:
.:. Didn’t preheat oven with oiled pan; used convection setting instead. The crispy tofu and caramelized eggplant were amazing!
.:. Used regular soy (didn’t have low sodium) so cut it in half. Still way too salty. Next time will try 2 T total.
.:. Used onion. I think shallot would be much better. Also will chop it finely, not slice, so it disappears into the sauce better.
.:. My garlic cloves were enormous and I had ginger that needed to be used up, so probably used 1/4 c of each. It was great!
.:. I’m not sure why butter, and why so much — it doesn’t stand up to the bold flavors in this dish. Next time I will use oil, and less.
.:. Deglazed with a little wine. Next time will add more, and / or stock, so sauce is more saucy without all that volume from the soy.
As I said, it didn’t wow me (and yes, I know I changed a ton of stuff already) but the ingredients are so great that I want to try it again! I’ll try to report back when I do.
Thank you for sharing this and giving us a forum to compare notes. It’s such a fun pastime.
If you wanted to add a green veggie to this, what would you add? I thought about adding chopped fresh kale or bok choy or chopping up fresh spinach or chard and layering rice, Greens, eggplant/tofu so the hot food just barely “cooks” the greens. Also, am curious, what three types of soy? I happen to have four: regular, tamari, dark Chinese, and a handcrafted one from KY.
This was very good! Agree that it’s salty (even with low-sodium soy sauce) but I like salt). I’m a bit twitchy around hot oil so I skipped oiling and preheating the pan and baked on parchment paper instead, and the tofu at least was very crispy (and the eggplant was delicious regardless). We can usually polish off 3 servings in 2 but found that we had enough for 4 servings. Would make again!
THIS. IS. DELICIOUS.
Two of us just finished all of this. Wonderful. The eggplants get so jammy. I turned off the oven at 30 minutes and let it sit inside, as my husband/the rice maker king, was on the phone. All of it holds well on timing. I had read the comments so I pulled back on the pepper slightly; I wish I hadn’t, next time, full strength. Maybe will make another 25% of the sauce next time. A great recipe; SK virgin until today…
I followed the recipe exactly, and I’m sad to say this was my first SK flop. So, so salty. Can only be eaten with a large quantity of rice and a tiny quanitity of eggplant/tofu.
This is really delicious if you take the time to get the tofu properly drained. I froze the block and then pressed out the water with a cast iron pan. Make sure to use a low sodium soy sauce or it will be too salty. But otherwise it’s an easy recipe to follow and the results are excellent. Even the tofu adverse will enjoy.
Really loved the recipe… my only change… using Miyokos vegan butter to make this a plant based recipe. I did find it a bit too salty and would use less of the reduced sodium soy sauce.
Served with steamed spinach, which I threw into the rice cooker when the rice was finished cooking.
Loved your comments regarding adjusting recipes to suit our own personal needs. As Tabitha Brown says,,, that’s my business!
Unfortunately, this was a bit of a bust :( I found that the sauce never came together to make something greater than the parts. Also, my fault, I cut the eggplant and tofu in 3/4 inch pieces and they cooked too quickly!
Just made this with great success! We tweaked the fat/sugar a bit and added greens to make it a little lighter. It was DELICIOUS. I would warn that it can quickly get very spicy, apparently black pepper can really carry the dish on its own. I doubted that at first and added red pepper flakes to ensure it had heat – no need in retrospect.
Halved the butter and sugar
Spinach and snap peas added to the sauce to wilt before the eggplant and tofu
Red pepper flakes
So good I made it twice in one week! Love the sheet pan technique. I threw in big chunks of mushrooms when I flipped the eggplant and tofu and they ended up perfectly roasted and juicy. I also added some dumpling sauce I had leftover from lunch (soy sauce+ Chinese black vinegar + sugar) and it was great.
I also had to not include garlic and onion because of my fussy breastfed baby… But it still turned it today delicious with just a ton of ginger.
Deb, as ever, your good sense (and humor) are just what I’m craving. Also, easier eggplant like this, because it’s mid-August in the rural South, all I want is take-out, and half my kitchen table is covered with Japanese beauties.
I love your header notes! “Came for the recipes and stayed for the header notes.” (And also for the recipes.) Once temps return to the 80’s in SoCal, where I am, I will fire up my oven and try this out. I can’t wait! I would also like you to know how much I appreciate that none of the recipes in your blog lurk behind a paywall. I will purchase every single one of your cookbooks and hope, in the future, to have you sign at least one for me. 😄
I’ve made a ton of your recipes and lived them but I made this one tonight and it was so insanely good I had to cone post about it. Bravo. It came together quicker than I thought and was so insanely flavorful. Hooray for veggie dishes that outshine the grilled steaks on the table!
I meant -loved-them
Hi Deb, thanks for this note about flexibility and admirable lack of ego about recipes. I also really appreciate your eye for efficiency and washing up in the kitchen! I love Ottolenghi (I live in London and can pop by his various delis/ restaurants) but sometimes his recipes could do with a more realistic interpretation.
I sub’d the sugar for a dollop of honey (to accommodate my mother and her “PROCESSED SUGAR WILL KILL YOU” concerns) and served with kimchi rather than chilli sauce. It worked beautifully!
I made this to use two adorable lavender eggplants from this week’s farmshare. And I used chicken breast instead of tofu; it’s pandemic time and substitutions are now acceptable if not downright encouraged, lol.
I cubed the chicken breasts and marinated them for a couple hours in ginger, dry sherry, soy sauce and black pepper. I browned the chicken in grapeseed oil before proceeding with Deb’s sauce as written. And nobody here is spice-averse so I added some sliced Fresno peppers too!
This was fantastic. The cubed chicken breasts really looked like the tofu in the original version. Fantastic recipe.
Made this tonight, as is, and it was amazing! Thanks for this simplified version of the original. This is definitely a new favorite recipe. My only change would be to double it so there are leftovers.
Made exactly as written tonight and loved it! My tofu didn’t really brown, even cooked an extra 10 mins. I would eat that sauce on anything! Loved the subtle heat of all the black pepper, didn’t need extra hot sauce.
This was easy and delicious! I’m thinking of trying the sauce on other combinations of vegetables and protein. Yum!
This was delicious, but 1 T of pepper was way too much pepper. We like spicy food, but this was too spicy for us. We ate it all anyway, but it was barely tolerable. I think I would make it again with 1/2 t pepper because the other flavors were good, but just overpowered by the pepper.
Well we made this. It was so delicious with rice but quite frankly we will be making it with just eggplant next time.
This was so good! Loved all the pepper and was easy with roasting the tofu and eggplant at the same time. It looked just like your photo too!
Loved EVERY BITE! We had some foibles along the way (my Sous chef mostly peeled the eggplant) and we realized for the first time in years, we had run out of soy. Luckily there was some teriyaki hanging out that we’d used for a single recipe ages ago. Reduced the sugar a teens and MY GOD was it good. Yes, it’s salty. It’s supposed to be. THANK YOU, DEB!
This was wayyyy too peppery on day 1. As a result we had lots of leftovers. I reluctantly had it again for lunch and — wow! What a difference! The pepper mellowed out and it was delicious!
Absolutely delicious – thank you for the adaptation of the recipe and for your brilliant intro. A great read and a great meal
Loved this! Very easy and delicious. Since we are still avoiding frequent grocery trips due to COVID, I’ve been making tons of recipe substitutions. Here are my suggestions:
-If you only have reg sodium soy sauce (I had the Kikkoman brand), for me a 50-50 soy sauce-water ratio worked well. No idea what it would’ve tasted like with the low sodium to compare. Based on the commenters who have noted the saltiness, I would go very light or skip salt on the eggplant prior to roasting so you have more control over the salt level of the final dish. I was worried when I tasted the sauce that it was too salty, but the whole dish together, including rice, was salted to my taste. (I like salt, though!)
-I did red onion because I didn’t have shallots. Thought it was delicious but plan on trying it with shallots next time.
-I added some green onions to honor the original Ottolenghi recipe (and because I had them, so… why not). If I were to add actual green veggies, I would personally add some bok choy, just right in the sauce toward the end so it steams/wilts. I add bok choy to mapo tofu and love the little bit of texture and herbacious flavor. Other green veggies I would serve with this (either in the dish or as a side) would be broccoli, green beans, or sugar snap peas.
-Thought it was great with plenty of chili-garlic sauce. I have a cold and was craving garlic, ginger, and spice. The chili-garlic sauce also adds a nice punch of acid.
-I would double it! There are 2 of us with hearty appetites, and we finished probably 2/3 of it (accompanied by rice). If you are serving a bigger crowd or want leftovers, I would make more.
Delicious, as always. Love vegan (or almost vegan with the butter) dishes like this that are still hearty.
Amazing! Lots of ginger and garlic. Dropped the tofu subbed shrimp. Better than take out!
This was excellent. Thank you! Made it twice already, and will continue to make it. A go-to recipe. The family (young and old adults) loved it! We eat it with a green vegetable (kale, etc) and rice. We love eggplant! I must admit, the second time, I added a squeeze of lemon to the sauce.
This is delicious, but to echo many other commenters: I found it too salty. I didn’t salt the eggplant or tofu, and used low sodium soy sauce, and it was still too much. Maybe dilute the soy sauce more for those making it in the future? It came together easily though, and was great with chili oil drizzled on top.
Wow, wow, wow. This was incredible. I paused the movie my husband and I were watching – Junebug – while we ate this for dinner and looked him in the eye and said: “I’m a really excellent cook.” Many thanks to you, Deb…
This was fantastic!!!! I probably would tone down the soy sauce but otherwise amazing
This was divine! I’ve made the original this recipe was based on and yours is way better 😉. The roasted eggplant was a perfect addition and I now have new way of using tofu in a stir fry. Sheet pan perfection.
This is the most underrated recipe on your website. I’ve already made this 4 times this summer! It’s so deliciously amazing, always seems to impress whomever I make it for. Tonight I served it with rice and a side of green beans sautéed in soy, ginger and sambal oelek. I love the way the eggplant melts into the sauce and how perfectly crispy the tofu gets from being coated in cornstarch. Thanks for another winner recipe, Deb!
This was absolutely wonderful. I have never felt completely positive that I had surpassed a restaurant quality dinner. Thank you so much!
I way overate!
I love this dish. I think I maybe using a little less soy, but all in all it is amazing and you cannot go wrong with minor adjustments. Love the addition of eggplant to the original dish. We usually have it with an additional green side and brown rice. Its enhanced our non veg repertoire. Thanks!
Sorry our “veg repertoire”
So delicious! We have made this multiple times and it is great. Extremely flavorful, so good to have with rice and any additional sides you want to eat with it. Love the method for roasting everything on a sheet pan and the cornstarch really helps the tofu crisp up.
Made this tonight and followed the recipe exactly, though added some chopped cilantro and green onions when serving. It is delicious. Thank you for this, it is a keeper.
Absolutely perfect. Made everything as written but doubled the amount of eggplant. 10/10.
Excellent recipe…have made it many times. It even works with zucchini if you can not get eggplants.
Amazing recipe! Made tonight with the following subs: margarine (miyokos) instead of butter, half coconut aminos for the soy sauce, and red onion instead of shallots. Was so delicious! I roasted the eggplant and the tofu on parchment paper to prevent sticking with good results. Even my tofu hating husband enjoyed this.
Love this recipe! However, it always comes out saltier than I expect (even when I remember to use unsalted butter). The trick I’ve found is to cut the eggplant and tofu bigger than I normally think I should, so that the pieces don’t become total soy bombs. Also, served it over sushi rice with some rice wine vinegar in it last night which helped cut the saltiness. Love to top it with sesame seeds, chopped scallions and sriracha. YUM!
This recipe is so delicious! My CSA delivers baby fairy tale eggplants through the summer and fall seasons (I live in the South), and this recipe makes those eggplants so melt-in-your mouth yummy! I’ve made it several times – so good!
I made this with firm, not extra firm, tofu and long Asian eggplants. I pressed the firm tofu while the oven preheated and I cut the eggplant and a lot of moisture came out. The eggplant and tofu were a bit messy on the sheet pan but it all tasted great on the plate. My husband loved the black pepper. He was leary of the tofu, though he has eaten it in hot and sour soup. Next time, extra firm tofu. Because of the comments, I did not add salt to the eggplant and tofu before roasting and it was fine. I used Kikkoman low salt soy sauce and it was perfect.
We loved this! Our eggplant ended up being bad, so I replaced it with carrots. I also used half coconut aminos, half soy sauce to cut down on the sodium. Even with those modifications, this was fantastic! Will be definitely making again.
This is my favorite thing to make when I get eggplant in the produce box, and I usually don’t care for eggplant! I mince the garlic because I want the flavor throughout, and even though I use low-sodium soy sauce, I still water it down a bit. Delicious!
Truly delicious! Thank you so much for this delightful and doable version. My only comment is that my eggplant required more oil and more time to get meltingly soft, probably because I went light on the oil at the beginning. This is a fairly rich recipe, so if you’re going to go for it, just be liberal with the oil at the outset. It’s a new way of treating tofu, for me at least, and I will use it again.
No joke: When I first intended to make this recipe, I discovered 60% of the way through that we were out of soy sauce. Eek! I had already discovered that my eggplant was brown inside, so I roasted red peppers and halved Brussels sprouts in their place (note: delicious). And I had forgotten to buy shallots, so I used an onion instead. To salvage the dinner, I used lime juice and a flavorful hot sauce from my hometown, Clancy’s Fancy, to make enough of a sauce to bind it all together. At that point, I ended up with a tasty result! But alas, it was definitely not the Black Pepper Tofu and Eggplant of my intentions. :D
This was delicious! This is a keeper, and I saved it to my meal rotation. The only thing I would change is to halve the soy sauce. It was a bit too salty for me.
Loved this recipe! The eggplant cooked up perfectly and the tofu had a nice crunch. I used coconut aminos instead of soy sauce. If I did it again, I would probably omit the sugar. The sauce came out quite sweet.
I made this as is and it tasted so incredibly good, thank you so much!!
Made this tonight as written except used shrimp instead of tofu.. just broiled it in the oven for a few minutes before tossing in the sauce. So yummy – love the silky eggplant and shallots with the chewy shrimp! And lots of pepper!
This was delicious! I was grateful for the notes to dilute regular soy sauce as I probably wouldn’t have noticed that it specified low-sodium. I’m not usually a big fan of eggplant but I’d definitely make this again!
Love this! Roasted the vegetables and tofu in the air fryer and made the sauce as directed. Came out perfect. This will definitely be one of my quick easy go to recipes.
This is absolutely perfect! I’ve made it twice and am making it again tonight. It holds up well for leftovers the next day. Thank you for such a great recipe, Deb!
Just curious about how many shallots other cooks need to get 1 cup. I typically get a cup from 1 1/2 shallots. 4 to 5 medium big ones as mentioned in the blog post seem like they’d yield much more than 1 cup.
Anyway, I’ve been making this with one heaping cup of thinly sliced shallots and it’s been DEEElicious!
They range so much in size, it’s almost impossible to nail down, so this is an estimate for walnut-sized (as in, in the walnut shell) ones. In reality, I get ones as big as red onions, others as small as a couple large garlic cloves.
I tried this last night and it was a huge success. I had been looking for some kind of tofu and eggplant combo for a while, but all the recipes I found involved frying and seemed like too much work for a simple meal. The sheet pan was super easy and both of the main ingredients came out perfectly. I made a few minor modifications (added some scallions and red bell pepper, used GF flour instead of cornstarch, regular soy plus a little white wine instead of low salt soy, Chinese eggplant not Italian, I only had firm tofu so I pressed it for 30 minutes) When I make it again, I’ll get some cornstarch, as the GF flour gave the tofu a nice crunchy crust but didn’t brown at all. I will also cut both the sugar and butter by half or more, as the dish was, and this seems odd to say, too luxurious and delicious for a healthy vegetarian meal.
This was quick and so delicious! I did fry everything because…well, oven issues. Will definitely keep in the rotation! Thank you for simplifying.
Made this for lunch today. The tofu is delicious roasted and the eggplant was nice and caramelly. My only complaint would be the salt factor. I will definitely be drinking 8 cups of water today ;-) I will make this recipe again, but maybe with low sodium soy or half soy, half broth.
I wanted to add, having made it a few times, how wonderful this recipe is. I used parchment paper and didn’t preheat the pan (mostly out of total laziness), and it always works despite my finicky oven. I also add that I made it with tamari rather than soy sauce (a member of my household is gluten free) and that was so seamless I think you could just change the recipe to say soy sauce or tamari to show how easily gluten free this is. Thank you!
I pretty much make this once a month. My children don’t care for it, but my husband and I like it so much that we don’t want to share anyways. It’s our favorite way to eat both tofu and eggplant. I no longer worry about the exact amounts and just eyeball everything, making more sauce when the eggplant is larger. More ginger = better.
I’ve made this from Plenty (a favorite) and your way and I love your modifications for ease and taste (child-friendliness, as you mention!). Thanks!!!
Deb! This was a amazing. Trying to incorporate more tofu into our routine and this is the best recipe so far. Although that sauce on anything- we practically liked the pan. AND in addition I now know the secret to roasting eggplant so it doesn’t stick- heated pan- genius. This was a winner.
Any suggestions for substituting the butter for vegans?
One of my favorite recipes ever. All the same, I make it with minor charnges. I press the tofu for a while (~1 hour), which helps it get crisp in the oven. I toss it with cornstarch first, then oil, THEN I toss the eggplant with oil in the same bowl. That keeps the cornstarch from sticking to the oily bowl (because the bowl is not oily yet). I don’t preheat the pan with oil (that was just messy and annoying and not worth it to me); I just put the oiled tofu and eggplant onto the cold pan and it works out fine. Also, the peppercorn thing… I found it so hard to know how much to grind it (I used too much or ground it too much once and it ruined it), so now I just use about 1.5 tsp of already ground pepper. With these modifications, it’s still amazingly delicious and easier to make for me, so I make it more often! (Oh, also I use fairytale eggplant because that shows up weekly at the farmers market during late July and August and I love it.)
Oh, one change I do NOT make (I see plenty of comments about this) is that I use low-sodium soy sauce! Even with that, I found it too salty the first time, so I now make sure that the rice I serve with it is unsalted. That makes the combo just perfect!
Holy cow, hats off to a rare SK Dish I Never Thought I’d Make Until Tofu & Eggplant Arrived Simultaneously. Utterly delicious, and the combination of black pepper and saltiness made me feel a little high. For others concerned about the salt levels, here’s what I did: used two four-finger pinches of Morton’s kosher salt on my (giant, maybe 2lb?) eggplant, one four-finger pinch on my (10oz package) tofu; diluted standard soy sauce with water to a ratio of about 60/40 (for a total of 6T); used 2T salted butter; served over plain, steamed cauliflower. I think I could have cut the pinched salt a bit and gotten the salt-flavor level that works best for me. And don’t skimp on the black pepper!! It’s so good! In the future, I also want to add slivered hot peppers to the onion mixture and garnish with green onions and toasted sesame seeds. What a keeper of a recipe!
Really enjoyed the crispy eggplant and tofu. The sauce is delicious, but the eggplant was too salty. Going to try it again with less salt for baking.
This sounds and looks fabulous, I always pan roast my tofu (I do usually use baking paper for easy clean up) and find it always works!.
I’m going to make it but definitely add chillis and I love spice! thanks so much for sharing. :)
This looks wonderful, but I’m making it with ground pork! May throw in some julienned red pepper for color :) I’m always looking for Asian sauce inspirations – many thanks, Deb! #lipsmacking
I made this and while I thought it was good, I don’t think the effort it took made it worthwhile. Like another reviewer, I also threw in a some bok choy bc I had it in the fridge & I was looking for a little pop of color in this dish.
I was concerned about the amount of black pepper called for so I used half. I’m glad I did. For me, it was enough kick/spice without being overwhelming.
Generally, I love all of Deb’s recipes but this one wasn’t one of my favorites.
OMG….I just made thus tonight after seeing posted earlier this week! So tasty!! Amazing! The only thing I did differently was cooking the tofu and eggplant on the stove top because, summer…no way I’m using the oven in my apartment! But wow it turned out so well! Will make it again for sure!
Made this today – pretty much to the letter – just added some red bell pepper to the last roasting. Yum!
Is it my imagination, or do I see green onions n the upper left photo? When and where do I use them? Thank you!
PS- Making now…
I think I took them out of the fridge by accident. 😂
I just made a vegan version of this and it was delicious. I used neutral oil in place of the butter and it worked fine.
This was amazing. Thank you for simplifying an Ottelenghi recipe. We are vegans, so I substituted with Miyoko’s Cultured Vegan Butter. This may be one of the best vegan entrees I’ve ever made. Thank you!
Will look for this! Thank you.
This is fabulous. I have converted my tofu-indifferent and eggplant-hating husband. Modification: exclude eggplant and tofu. No! Kidding!! I exclude all of the salt called for in the recipe and use low sodium tamari (rather than soy). There is more than enough flavour from the pepper and chili oil!
My grocery store only had firm (not extra firm) tofu. Will this affect the recipe at all? Any extra steps I should take??
I think it will be fine.
Made this tonight following the recipe as written and it was delicious. A little salty for my taste even using low sodium soy sauce. Think I’ll cut with water or eliminate salting eggplant and tofu and add some Thai red chili to kick up the heat next time. Thanks so much, is yet another keeper recipe!
I made this tonight and followed the directions with no changes and it was FANTASTIC. I need to get better technique for draining tofu (haven’t cooked with it too much) so that wasn’t as crispy as I’d hoped but everything else was perfect and even my skeptical non-eggplant-loving partner just downed a whole bowl with compliments! Can’t wait to make this again!
This recipe was time intensive but delicious and easier than it looked. I followed the directions about heating the pan with oil before adding the eggplant and tofu. It was even easier than using parchment paper, and there was zero sticking. (From now on, this will be my go-to technique for all tofu roasting.) I found that I need two half sheet pans to fit everything. I did wish there was a little more eggplant, but that’s my preference, not an issue with the ratio. Next time, I would add less salt earlier on (even with low-sodium soy sauce, it was very salty) and cut the sugar in half (it was a little sweeter than I’d prefer.)
I made as written, using sheetpan and parchment. It was divine.
One of my favorite go-to meals. Exactly as written. It’s perfect and so so tasty. Thanks (as always!), Deb!
Wow, trying to figure out where I made the mistake. I followed this recipe exactly and the result was excessively salty (confirmed my soy sauce was reduced sodium) and very soy sauce forward.
Ok, I have to come back and read these hilarious comments later but for now I wanted to report that my 18 year old son said this was amazing and could we please add it to the regular rotation. He is heading off to college in the fall and I am eager to make food tempting enough that he comes home to visit at least now and then. Thank you for the great recipe!
I did not include any chocolate, but I used three packs of tofu, two huge eggplants and then kind of winged it on the amounts with the sauce. Two parents and one teenage boy ate almost all of that! The teenage girl doesn’t care for spicy stuff so she had rice and soy sauce. Hey, whatever works. And yes, this is going into the rotation.
I’ve made this a handful of times now & always love it. Even my husband, who generally avoids eggplant, really enjoyed it. I’m trying to make tofu more often and love the roasting method outlined here, I’ve used it instead of frying as suggested in other recipes. Thank you!
I too have abridged this particular recipe. Thanks for showing what you did.
Can’t wait to try this for my vegetarian daughter-in- law and the whole family. A couple of things: Reynold’s non-stick foil works wonders to avoid messy pans. Szechuan Peppercorns are available from Penzy’s and other spice purveyors. They would add an extra layer of piquancy to the the dish.
This is nirvana. Question: if you wanted it to make it vegan, what would you use instead of the butter to keep the richness?
I read the comments and now I feel RIDICULOUS. Hats off to the hilarious recipe altering comediennes out there.
This was good! And a way for me to eat eggplant that I will tolerate :)
I watered down my soy sauce (since I didn’t have low sodium) and found it fine. Next time I would whip up a marinade for the tofu first (maybe just soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic etc.) as I think the tofu comes out better that way. (I may have just overcooked it…it’s quite crispy on the outside but I’m finding it’s not really absorbing the sauce that well. Added some chilli garlic sauce at serving.
Wow! Soooo delicious. I’ve looked at this recipe since you posted it and it never drew me in. Didn’t feel like going to the store today and had two Asian eggplants in the garden and a carton of tofu fridge. So glad I finally made it. We were fighting over the remaining bits. This will definitely be on rotation. Such rich flavors for little work and simple ingredients. Love it.
This was our situation. I needed an Asian side dish and this was a good excuse to use overripe eggplant from our garden and a long past prime pack of tofu. This fridge meal turned out to be a real winner. Appreciate all the sauce ingredients are ones we usually have around the house. Exotic flavor with run of the mill ingredients.
This was absolutely incredible. So delicious! Thank you!
Fabulous as written, and infinitely adaptable — especially with leftovers. This is a fave in our house. One variation we enjoy is tossing udon-type noodles with tahini before serving with the eggplant/tofu.
Holy cow, this was delicious. I’m a wimp and only used a teaspoon of pepper, and it had the most lovely tingle without being too spicy. Nobody in my house eats eggplant or tofu or spicy things (not for lack of my trying…), so I made it on a night when I had leftovers for the kids. So beyond good!
This has become one of my favorite eggplant preparations. Today, I tweaked the recipe a bit on a whim. Doubled the sauce and tossed everything together with cooked stir fry noodles and a huge handful of basil. Delicious!
I made this as written twice and loved it so much. Then my body started freaking out about soy, so I made it once with panela cheese instead of tofu and coconut aminos instead of soy sauce, and it was okay but the cheese texture was rather rubbery. Then I made it again with double the eggplant and no cheese or tofu and it was delicious!
What specific low-sodium soy sauce do you use?
We have tried several, and find the dish too salty, though still very tasty. I guess going forward we’ll cut back the soy sauce, will try just 1/4 cup.
Wow. Wow. Made this tonight exactly as printed (well, I tossed in some torn basil leaves at the end). Perfectly delicious exactly as written!
This recipe is so wonderful and firmly a part of my regular rotation. It’s one of the few recipes me (vegetarian) and my boyfriend (carnivorous) both love.
The only thing that hasn’t worked for me is cooking the tofu and eggplant together on one baking pan. Even with a half sheet pan, I find that they cook too slowly (35+ min). Not sure if this is because of my oven or preference about eggplant texture (melty inside, crispy outside), but I’ve had good luck using two baking sheets.
I’d also recommend covering the skillet after adding the soy sauce to prevent the liquid from cooking down too much. I also add a little extra water to the low-sodium soy sauce (maybe a couple tbsp), so it stays saucier.
Finally, in case other people didn’t know this either, you can peel ginger with a spoon! I finally googled after cutting myself with a peeler too many times. The larger the ginger root is, the easier it is to peel.
I make this regularly now, it is a house favorite. I have to go with 1/4 cup soy sauce and 1/4 cup water or I get complaints about saltiness. Also the soy sauce is low-sodium and the butter is unsalted. Fantastic recipe, I just can’t take the salt level otherwise.
What type of eggplant the big dark purple or the smaller Asian one?
You can use either but I used here the bigger one.
It was excellent with cauliflower! — I’ve made this before as written and loved it. Tonight I had tofu that *really* needed to be eaten and no eggplant on hand, so I used cauliflower and it came out delicious. I also added thinly-sliced scallions to the sauce that also needed to be used. I thought I’d miss the color of the eggplant, but I was kinda surprised at how pretty it came out. I think other roasted veggies would work in this recipe, too, but honestly you could put that sauce on an old shoe and I’d at least try it. I’m looking forward to trying the parchment technique others mentioned because I think there’s room for improvement on my tofu roasting.
Just chiming in that made this with cauliflower instead of eggplant too and IT WAS AMAZING. I also only had 1/4 cup of soy sauce, which I never run out of….still delicious!!!!
Made this last night , it was a complete success, the partner had two large serves what a great recipe , as all the recipes on your site are . I have lost count how many of your recipes I have cooked , keep up the great work
I’ve never left a comment on a recipe before but this was so yummy I have to say thank you. Really delicious and easy to make, looking forward to cooking this again and again.
This was incredible. 10 out of 10.