Remove the firm tofu from the package and cut into ½ inch slices.
Line paper towels or hand towels on a cutting board and place the tofu slices individually. Place another paper towel on top of these slices and then another cutting board on top. Add four of the same sized cans on top of the cutting board evenly to add more pressure. Press for 15-20 minutes. Make the dipping sauce while this is pressing.
Remove tofu from the press and cut them into bite sized pieces. I like to cut them in about one inch square bites.
In a heavy-bottomed pot, add about one and a half inches of oil and heat to about 350 °F.
Prepare your dry batter by combining the cornstarch and white ground pepper in a shallow bowl.
Prepare your wet batter by combining and mixing all the dry ingredients first: cornstarch, baking powder, all-purpose flour, and kosher salt. After mixing, add in your cold water and vodka. Mix thoroughly until the batter is smooth.
Take tofu pieces and roll them in the dry batter until all sides are evenly covered, this step will help the wet batter stick to the tofu. Then, dip the tofu into the wet batter and cover evenly. Lift the tofu to remove excess batter and carefully place the battered tofu into the oil.
Cook tofu for about three to four minutes, or until it's crispy. (If you think the tofu pieces are sticking to the bottom of the pot, try to give it some time to cook. I found that after 2 minutes, the tofu will crisp and you can easily remove it from the bottom without tearing the crispy batter.)
Remove tofu pieces from the oil and rest them on a towel lined wire rack to help remove excess oil.
Enjoy with the dipping sauce and serve immediately!
Dipping Sauce Instructions
In a pot on the stove over medium-high heat, add the soy sauce, ⅔ of water, and sugar, and stir until boiling.
While you are waiting for your soy sauce to boil, in a separate bowl mix the rest of the water and the potato starch.
Once it has reached boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and add the water and potato starch mixture.
Continue to cook until the sauce becomes thicker, about 15-20 minutes. The consistency of the sauce should be similar to maple syrup. Once you reach the right density, transfer the sauce to a heat safe bowl and let rest. The sauce will continue to thicken after resting.
This recipe was influenced by Serious Eats recipe for fried tofu, but I wanted to add a little bit more flavor to the batter by including white pepper and adjusting the cornstarch for a thicker batter.*Dipping sauce: If you want to double the recipe, please note that it may not be necessary to double this sauce recipe. I've found that with double the tofu, it's a good amount of sauce since you don't need much of the saltiness with the tofu.