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Salt-and-pepper tofu with braised eggplant

Australian Gourmet Traveller Asian vegetarian entree recipe for salt-and-pepper tofu with braised eggplant

By Rodney Dunn
  • Serves 4
Salt-and-pepper tofu with braised eggplant
Salt-and-pepper tofu with braised eggplant

Chinese five-spice
With its distinctive flavours of star anise, fennel, cassia, Sichuan pepper and cloves, Chinese five-spice is the perfect foil for fatty meats such as duck or pork. It will often include a few more spices such as coriander, ginger, cardamom or dried orange peel. According to Barbara Tropp in The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking - a book highly regarded as a definitive guide on the nuances of Chinese cuisine - five-spice was based on the proper yin-yang balance of flavours and meant to exemplify the five tastes of sweet, sour, bitter, pungent and salty. You can try using five-spice powder as a dry rub or in a marinade for meat, poultry or fish. It also goes very nicely with tofu, as in the below recipe.


  • 900 gm silken tofu
  • 100 gm plain flour (2/3 cup)
  • 50 gm cornflour (1/3 cup)
  • 1 tbsp finely ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • vegetable oil, For deep-frying
  • boiled rice, To serve
Braised eggplant
  • 1 kg eggplant (about 3)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 80 ml light soy sauce (1/3 cup)
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 2 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • ½ tsp sesame oil


  • 1
    For braised eggplant, halve eggplant crossways then cut lengthways into thick wedges. Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a large saucepan, add eggplant and cook over high heat for 5 minutes or until golden, add garlic and ginger, reduce heat to medium and sauté for 2 minutes or until fragrant, add remaining ingredients and 1 cup water and bring to the boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes or until tender.
  • 2
    Cut silken tofu crossways into 1cm slices. Combine flours with pepper, salt and five-spice powder. Heat 6cm oil in a deep frying pan or saucepan to 180C, dust tofu in flour mixture, add to oil and deep-fry for 2 minutes or until golden, drain on an absorbent paper-lined plate and repeat with remaining tofu.
  • 3
    To serve, spoon eggplant among bowls, top with tofu and serve immediately with rice passed separately.
  • Author: Rodney Dunn