Zenhua’s Tofu

This recipe has some notes from Jerry, though he didn’t complete the recipe details. Fortunately, the recipe card still exists. Note that his recipe notes don’t refer to the restaurant recipe.

A fellow who was a professor at the University of Vermont worked at Five Spice for maybe a year, and he brought in a tofu recipe, all vegan. After he moved on, I rewrote it a bit, adding for example one of my favorite ingredients, fermented black beans plus scallions. It’s an exceptional dish, and in this case more than ever, east-west minds are at work. This is enough for a party size amount, or you can simply cut amounts back by a third to a half.

Jerry Weinberg

Zhenhua’s Tofu

Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Chinese, Five Spice, Vegan, Vegetarian
Year: 1994
Servings: 4 servings


  • 2 blocks tofu (well drained, cut into ½" squares)
  • 6 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Sichuan pepper (whole)
  • 4 star anise
  • 6 chili peppers (whole)
  • teaspoon ginger
  • 5 Tablespoons garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons fermented black beans
  • salt (to taste)
  • ¾ scallions (diced)
  • 5-6 Tablespoons cilantro (plus basil and/or mint)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons sesame oil


  • Prepare tofu, set aside.
  • Heat oil in wok. When hot, add peppercorns, anise, chili peppers.
  • Cook in oil until blackened (not burnt).
  • Remove solids from oil with strainer.
  • Add ginger, garlic, black beans. Stir fry quickly.
  • Add tofu – cook thoroughly but do not overcook (makes it tough).
  • Salt to taste. Mix well.
  • Add scallions, stir well a minute or less. Turn off heat.
  • Add herbs and sesame oil. Stir well.


There are some additional instructions at the top and bottom of the right side of the card that are hard to make out.

Leave a Reply