Saturday, August 31, 2013

Kung Pao Tofu

Tofu changed my life!
Yeah, that's a big statement, but you see, there is a whole Indo-Chinese cuisine back in India that does Chinese food using Paneer (an indian cheese). So until I moved to the US eons ago, I had never had Tofu!


For a vegetarian here in the US, there were limited choices while eating out. Then there is always the
challenge of finding good protein sources for a vegetarian, too. So when I had my first meal with Tofu, I was kinda excited. I ate tofu at restaurants a lot for a long time. P.F Changs became a weekly thing. Then for many months - maybe even years, I stopped eating at chinese places and Tofu sort of fell off my radar.I had moved on to Falafel ! 

 Not that I forgot of Tofu's existence, but I didn't cook it much at home. Then I wondered, why didn't I cook it at home?

One of my absolute favorite dishes at a restaurant was the Kung Pao Tofu. I loved the crunchy peanuts and the fact that heat from red chillies was part of the original dish and I didn't need to douse my meal in hot sauce, like with other food. (Seriously, I don't know why we Indians do that, but we add hot sauce to everything!!!). The only part of this dish I didnt like was the broccoli - I hate broccoli! But I've found that I quite like baby broccoli - and this is only a recent discovery.


This recipe is so easy too, I am kicking myself for not making it more often and sooner than now. Better late than never, I suppose.

INGREDIENTS

- 1 pack Firm Tofu
- 1/2 cup Soy Sauce
- 3-4 Scallions/Green Onions
- 1 inch Ginger - grated
- 2-3 cloves Garlic - minced
- small bunch baby Broccoli
- 1/4 cup Peanuts (if you love peanuts like I do, make this 1/2 a cup)
- 2-3 dry red chillies (optional)
- 1 tbsp Sriracha sauce
- 2-3 tbsp Vegetable or Canola Oil

INSTRUCTIONS
- I like my tofu crisp in my Kung Pao but I don't want to use too much oil, so I crisp up my tofu in a small pan.
- Cut Tofu pieces to small squares and spray a pan with some oil spray or add 1 tbsp of oil to it. Coat the pan in oil, let it get hot and then add Tofu pieces to it.
- Turn up the heat and toss the Tofu around to get the brown color on the outside. Drain on a paper towel and set aside.
- Cut the green onions at a bias, reserve the green part of the onion for garnish and use the white for cooking.
- Steam the broccoli in a steamer if you have one. I usually trim the baby broccoli , wash it and place it in a ziploc bag. Add a couple of tbsps of water and microwave for 2 mins (no more than 2 mins). This will steam the baby broccoli and leave a bit of crunch on it.
- Heat a wok (or any large flat bottom pan) on high heat. Add oil and then add peauts.
- In a hot pan, peanuts will brown quickly - so please keep a close watch.
- Add red chillies if using. Break them into half before adding for more heat, or leave whole for a milder flavor.
- Add ginger garlic quickly after, followed by onion and cook , tossing, for 30 seconds.
- Add broccoli, tofu, soy sauce and sriracha in quick succession. Remember this is high heat cooking, so you need to move fast.
- Toss everything around in the soy sauce base for a few mins till the soy sauce boils off.
(Note: Most Kung Pao Tofu recipes call for a soy sauce/cornstarch base, but I don't use cornstarch in my cooking and this still tasted very good. If you prefer a thick consistency of sauce, you can add cornstarch to the soy sauce , before adding the mixture to the pan)
- Add salt and garnish with chopped green onions.

Serve on brown rice and be proud you made a very healthy, protein rich, vegetarian meal today! I sure was.

38 comments:

  1. I wish I could eat tofu but it makes my skin look terrible!

    This looks so delicious. And yes, I remember the delicious Chinese food that I ate in India. It's been years but I still remember!

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    1. no soy ? aargh allergies! The chinese food in india is delish - not exactly healthy - but who cares!

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  2. This does look really really yummy, way more healthier than the loaded ones in restaurants which I enjoy too.
    Oh yes, sometimes we just forget things that we liked and ate so much..nice you found it again and love tofu..

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    1. thanks, its a little guilt-free since its lighter!

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  3. I've never had Kung Pao Tofu and we don't have P.F. Changs in Australia. I'll give this a go and see if I can make it look as good as yours.

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  4. Kung Pao tofu! Even the name has a punch to it!!

    This looks lovely as a weeknight meal.
    And you should give broccoli a chance :-)

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    1. Thanks Deepa - I've given Broccoli plenty of chances - I just don't have a thing for it. I'll settle for baby broccoli - its a lot more tender than regular broccoli.

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  5. Your version of kung pao is just so delicious and healthy :)

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  6. I love the way you have lightened this recipe, I miss Indo-Chinese food too, though there are some good places in NYC.

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    1. I miss good Indo-Chinese food too. Yes NYC does, I've tried several of them and most do a good job.

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  7. I wish we had an awesome place around here, but at least I can make this now!

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  8. This pic reminds me of Indo Chinese food back home. Good thing I found this on your site I will try it. Just found out I am allergic to milk products :(

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    Replies
    1. allergies suck! Thankfully there are plenty of substitutes now available.

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  9. Such a scrumptious twist on traditional Chinese and tofu! Lovely recipe!

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  10. I do enjoy tofu for a change, but it doesn't beat paneer! You have combined these ingredients beautifully.

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    1. Man, you are really taking advantage of your current location, aren't you ! :)

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  11. I absolutely love anything with Indo-Chinese twist too - kung pao tofu looks very delicious.

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  12. This recipe is awesome!!! I love tofu and recently have been using a lot of tempeh...I wonder how this might taste with tempeh?!?!

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    1. I've seen tempeh being used as a substitute for many tofu dishes, so I would think so. As long as its bland enough to pick up the rest of the flavors.

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  13. This looks great, we don't eat tofu enough, would love to give this a try!

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  14. Such a pretty photo. I had the most awful tofu tonight from Whole Foods, which is such a shame because things like that really reinforce the misled idea people have of tofu being bland and boring. This recipe looks like it could change a lot of minds, though!

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    1. I had an iffy experience at Whole Foods this week too. One piece of tofu looked nice and fresh and the other was brown from reheating several times I think. I agree, people are pretty polarised about Tofu.

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  15. I love tofu too. Even though I'm mildly allergic to soy and should avoid it, I love Chinese food and so I can't help trying soy in all its glorious forms, from sauce to tofu (always with a little prayer that I don't start to break out). My husband keeps telling me I'm playing with fire, but what's life without a little risk? :) Love your photo.

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    Replies
    1. oh dear, you are living on the edge! :) Sometimes, if you expose yourself to allergens enough, you desensitize yourself. But please, don't follow my advice on allergies.

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  16. I love tofu and grew up eating it. Until I came to the US I never thought tofu is something people dislike of (I think it's such a common food in Japan that I never met anyone who didn't like tofu). It's really nice to see a wonderful recipe like this so that more people will give it a try! :)

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    1. Tofu is such a gift to the vegetarian eater - especially in the US where otherwise , vegetarian food can be limited.

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  17. We love kong pao and this looks amazing! Definitely going to try it out!

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  18. I love this tofu version of the classic Kung Pao. Might try it myself too, I'm a big fan of tofu.:)

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  19. Loved this recipe..Looks divine! I love Kung Pao

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  20. I LOVE Indo-Chinese food. The Indian take on Chinese food is really fascinating to me and I always seek those dishes out when I go to Indian restaurants. I'm glad you discovered cooking tofu at home--sometimes I think it's even better when you prepare it yourself vs. getting it at a restaurant! This looks delicious. :)

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  21. this looks incredibly delicious... such beautiful photos... i love kung pao chicken, i bet tofu would taste amazing too. very nice!

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