This past Friday, the chef many believe was responsible for creating the titanic Chinese-American favorite, General Tso’s Chicken, passed away. Contrary to the ever evolving lore around General Tso’s Chicken being an old and authentic Hunan dish made for some storied ancient general, Peng Chang-kuei supposedly invented the dish in Taiwan in the 1950s. (Read more about the history of the dish here!)
In honor of this most spectacular stroke of brilliance (we’ll poke fun at Chinese American food until we turn blue, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy a good General Tso’s Chicken), we decided to immortalize this dish for vegans and vegetarians as well, in the form of General Tso’s Tofu.
An Ode to Tofu
While the health and dietary aspect was one concern, given that tofu is decidedly healthier than chicken thighs, this recipe is really an ode to tofu and those who love its subtle flavor. In a similar vein, check out our Crispy Tofu Tacos–they’re just plain good, whether you are a vegan, vegetarian, or carnivorous beast.
That being said, General Tso’s Tofu happens to be a healthy vegetarian or vegan option. I often struggle with what to serve my vegetarian/vegan friends for dinner, and this is the perfect dish to make.
Your friends won’t feel deprived, and you won’t feel like you’re shortchanging your guests who can’t eat all the other delicious meat dishes you’re serving alongside the veggies and tofu.
This recipe may be a little unconventional, but it’s quite simple to make, so whether you’re cooking up a weeknight dinner for your tofu-loving self, planning a dinner party with a vegan friend or two, or honoring the memory of good old Peng Chang-keui, give this one a whirl.
General Tso’s Tofu: Recipe Instructions
Mix the honey and Louisiana hot sauce in a bowl until well combined. Add the firm tofu to the bowl, and toss together gently with a spatula until the tofu is well-coated.
Next, sprinkle the sesame seeds over the tofu, and toss until evenly distributed.
Next, sprinkle the cornstarch over the tofu until lightly coated. If the tofu is still too wet, add a little more cornstarch.
Heat 1/3 cup oil in a medium-sized frying pan (we like to use a cast iron skillet) until the oil is about 350F, or when a bamboo chopstick bubbles when inserted into the oil. If you want to make the tofu frying easier, use more oil to achieve a deep fry.
Carefully place the tofu pieces into the pan, ensuring that the pieces are not touching, and let fry for about 2 minutes.
Turn them over to continue frying on the other side. Work quickly and turn the heat down if you need more time for turning, or if you see they are starting to burn. Continue to cook the tofu until a nice crust is formed, and they turn golden brown (about 4-5 minutes time in total). Transfer the tofu pieces to a sheet pan with a slotted spoon.
Heat your wok over medium heat, and add 1 tablespoon of the oil left from tofu-frying, and add the ginger. After 10 seconds, add the garlic and the dried Chinese red chili peppers, and stir for 15 seconds.
Next, stir in the red bell peppers and Shaoxing wine.
Now add the water or vegetable stock, and let the mixture come up to a boil. Add the broccoli florets.
Immediately add the light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, rice vinegar, salt, sugar, and sesame oil. Let the mixture come up to a boil. Immediately add the cornstarch mixture slowly while stirring.
The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon. Feel free to add more or less of the cornstarch mixture depending on how thick you like your sauce, but give it 30 seconds to 1 minute between additions, as it does take some time for the sauce to thicken.
Toss in your fried tofu and give everything a quick stir to make sure the tofu is coated.
Dish it out onto a plate…
And serve your General Tso’s tofu with steamed rice!
Looking for more General Tso? Check out our recipes for General Tso’s Chicken and General Tso’s Cauliflower!