Kylie Kwong’s Deep-fried Tofu with Sichuan Pepper and Salt and Lemon

Serves: 2 – 4

We cooked Chinese last night and started off with this wonderful tofu dish.

So subtle is it, you could serve it as part of any contemporary dinner and your guests would love you. And it.

Key is to heat the oil and then to quickly dust the tofu with the flour and cook. If you dust and leave the tofu for too long, it will become moist and sticky and you won’t get the same batter effect.


1 x 300gm packet silken tofu
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
⅓ cup plain flour
Handful coriander leaves
1 tsp Sichuan pepper and salt*
1 lemon, halved


  1. Gently remove the tofu from the packet; carefully slice the tofu into six cubes and drain off any excess liquid.
  2. Heat oil in a wok until the surface is shimmering. Lightly dust the tofu pieces in flour and lower into the oil.
  3. Deep-fry the tofu for about 4 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well on paper towel.
  4. Arrange the tofu on a platter, garnish with coriander and serve immediately, sprinkled with Sichuan pepper and salt, coriander leaves and accompanied by lemon halves.

Dau Hu Rang Muoi (Salt and Pepper Tofu)

Serves 2 as a starter

I pulled this recipe from Secrets of the Red Lantern by Pauline Nguyen (recipes also by Luke Nguyen and Mark Jensen).

Red Lantern is a Surry Hills Vietnamese restaurant, with almost a cult following; the food is modern and brilliantly executed, with great service and a dark, red atmosphere.

Indeed, my mother took me to a Fish Market Cooking School around 2003 held by Mark Jensen and we cooked a prawn dish that really marked a turning point in my passion for cooking. Subsequently, I’ve eaten at Red Lantern at least a dozen times since.

This dish is very satisfying, both from the perspective of cooking it, and eating it. Tofu is one of those ingredients you cook just not quite enough to be completely confident; and yet once you’ve finished deep frying it and the smell of the spring onions, chilli and garlic in the oil hits, you know you’re onto something fabulous.

This could be done as part of a Vietnamese feast or a starter as part of a dinner party, possibly served with other interesting starters. It really is a unique, sharp and tasty dish.


250g tofu pillows (Chinese-style pressed firm tofu)
2 spring onions (scallions), sliced
1 bird’s eye chilli, sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper seasoning mix (Combine 1 tbs salt, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp white pepper, 1 tsp ground ginger, ½ teaspoon five-spice)


  1. Cut the tofu into 4x2cm cubes and place on a cloth to dry; in a standard tofu pack, this makes 6.
  2. Put enough oil in a wok to deep-fry the tofu, and heat to 180c. This will cook a brown a bread cube in 15 seconds.
  3. Deep-fry the tofu for 5 minutes or until golden and very crispy. Remove from the wok and reserve the oil for later use.
  4. Add 2 teaspoons of the reserved oil to the wok and place over a high heat.
  5. Add the spring onions, chilli and garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds ensuring the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the tofu and salt a pepper seasoning and toss.
  6. Serve with salt, pepper and sprinkle of lemon.