Cut tofu into cubes and blot dry with paper towels, pressing down gently.
Make the wok sauce, stirring ingredients together in a small until most of the sugar dissolves. Place it by the stove.
Prep the shallots, garlic and bok choy.
Dredge the tofu in a light coating of cornstarch (cornstarch is optional, but provides a crispier texture).
Heat oil in a wok or large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and add the salt and crushed peppercorns to the oil, swirling it around until fragrant, about one minute.
Add the tofu to the seasoned oil, and sear on all sides until golden and crispy, turning the heat down if need be. Be patient and take your time, it will take about 5-6 minutes.
Set the crispy tofu aside on a paper towel-lined plate, and wipe the pan out.
Heat another teaspoon or two of oil over medium heat, and add shallots, garlic and bok choy. Stir continuously until bok choy begins to wilt and shallots become golden, about 3-4 minutes. It will smell amazing. Add the wok sauce to the pan, careful to get all the sugar that may have settled in the bowl.
Simmer for a couple of minutes, or until bok choy is just tender.
At the very very end, toss the tofu back into the pan with the bok choy and sauce ( just long enough to coat, only 5-10 seconds!) Cooking any longer will remove the amazing crispiness! Taste for salt and heat, adjusting to your preference.
Serve immediately, dividing between two bowls.
Stir Fry Tips
As with most stir-fry recipes, my best advice is to make sure to prep all the ingredients beforehand. The cooking part goes very quickly and it’s all too easy to burn things when you are not prepped and ready.
Place ingredients close to the stove, ready to go.
Stir stir stir! This prevents burning when using high heat!
Use high heat oil– peanut oil has the BEST flavor.
8–12 ounces firm tofu, patted dry, cut into 1-inch cubes (do not use silken tofu – or sub chicken or shrimp, see notes)
corn starch for dredging (optional)
2 tablespoons wok oil (high heat oil like peanut, or coconut )
generous, 5-finger pinch of salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked peppercorns
1 fat shallot, sliced
4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
6 ounces baby bok choy (about 4) quartered lengthwise ( or if very thick, in half again)
Black Pepper Sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce ( or Gluten-free Liquid Aminos)
2 tablespoons Chinese Cooking Wine ( Shaoxing Rice Wine) or sub dry white wine, pale cooking sherry, or rice wine.
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon brown sugar ( or sub palm sugar, coconut sugar or agave)
½ teaspoon fresh cracked peppercorns
1 teaspoon chili paste (optional)
Serve with rice, or on its own.