Kung Pao tofu, cashew tofu, plant-based Chinese heaven – I’m not sure what to call this really. But it’s SO. ROCKING.
This is not my recipe, this is something the wife whipped up one night. I’ve probably mentioned her love of tofu before. I can’t understand it but there it is, she loves tofu. It happens quite often – when I say “it” I mean tofu. She’s always trying something new to get me to love it with her.
And baby, we’ve come a long way. This tofu take over started quite a few years ago when she cut it into what looked like cheese sticks, pan fried it and served it with homemade marinara, without telling me it was tofu. I ate it and truthfully, I liked it. That was it – we became a tofu household.
She does a few variations and honestly, they all have been delicious. Tofu parmsesan, sweet and sour tofu, sofritas, breakfast burritos. You name it. But this one, this one has been the absolute best. Seriously.
And it’s perfect for the newbie tofu eater. Maybe you’ve tried it before and it wasn’t for you or you just don’t know what to do with it. I got you!
This kung pao tofu is chock full of veggies, has minimal ingredients, but it’s full. of. flavor.
It’s also very loose. Use whatever veggies you have on hand. Take down the spice if it’s too much for you. Hell, you can deep fry the tofu if you wanted to. (Not like that would ever happen at my house!) Add extra veggies if you wanted.
The best part, it’s easy. You press the tofu, toss the tofu, bake the tofu. While you’re doing that, you prep the veggies and saute. Toss it together with the sauce and BAM! It’s done.
But…but…I’ve never made tofu before!
Again, this is the perfect recipe for a newbie tofu eater. If you play your cards right, this could be one of the easiest recipes ever. Here’s why…
In the vegetable area of the grocery store I often see already cut chunks of zucchini and other veggies together. If you’re short on time or inexperienced in the kitchen, this would be perfect for this Kung Pao tofu.
If you can find baked tofu, which I find easily where I am, you don’t even have to press. It’ll be right where the tofu is and it’ll say baked on the package.
The sauce has only three ingredients. Nuff said.
If you bake the tofu on the weekend, (maybe two or three blocks at once if you’re a real tofu freak), and store in the fridge, you’ll shave off even more time for a busy work night. And it’s all passive time. The oven does the work for you.
Before we get to the recipe (I know, shut up already), I wanted to tell you what you need to do with the tofu. Open it up, drain the liquid and then you have to press it. My wife has a tofu press which makes very quick work of it. But you don’t have to. Just wrap the block in a couple/few layers of paper towels or a cloth napkin, and put heavy things on it, like a cast iron skillet then put a couple cans in the skillet. You could wrap a brick in foil and place it in a cast iron skillet on the tofu. But you just want to press it for about 20-30 minutes to get the liquid out. You may have to change the paper towels midway through.
Now that you know what’s up, we can get to the delicious part. No, really!
Kung Pao Tofu
Quick vegetarian meal chock full of veggies and spice!
- 1 block firm or extra firm or super firm tofu any of the 3 works great
- salt, pepper, garlic powder or your favorite seasoning blend
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 small or 1 large zucchini cut into chunks
- 1/2 medium/large onion, chopped or sliced
- 1 jalapeno chopped, seeds removed if you don’t want too much heat
- 1 bell pepper chopped
- 1-1.5 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in half
- 2-3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1/4-1/2 cup cashews or peanuts
- 7 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons honey
- ½-3 tablespoons Sriracha sauce, ½=minimal heat, 3=spicy! start small and check the spice level
- sesame seeds for garnish, optional
- green onions for garnish, optional
- cilantro for garnish, optional
Preheat your oven to 400°.
Cut your pressed tofu into cubes about 1″ or 1.5″ square. If you’re a tofu newbie, I would take that down by half, into 1/2″ squares. In a large bowl, combine the tofu and the olive oil, toss to coat. Add the cornstarch. Add the salt & pepper and garlic powder or whatever spice blend you’re using. I like Heaven Made It’s Incredible for this, but use whatever you like. Toss to coat.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the tofu chunks. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes. Flip them over and bake another 15 minutes. Remove when done.
While you’re baking your tofu, chop all the veggies. Heat the sesame oil in a large pan over medium/high heat. When hot, add the chopped veggies, except the ginger and the garlic. Saute until you like the feel of the veggies. Longer cook time = softer veggies. We like a crisp bite to our veggies, so it doesn’t take long. When the veggies are to your liking, add the garlic and ginger. Stir about for 1-2 minutes. Turn the heat off.
Mix together your soy sauce, honey, and sriracha.
When the tofu is done, it should be crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Toss all of the tofu into the pan with the veggies. Add the sauce and the cashews/peanuts. Stir and add some heat, just to heat the veggies through and warm up the sauce.
Serve over rice – regular, brown, fried, cauliflower or with noodles. Maybe some potstickers on the side if you’re feeling frisky.
If you went crazy chopping veggies and you see, whoa, I won’t have enough sauce, just make a tad bit more with 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon honey and 1 teaspoon sriracha and add it in the pan.
The seasoning blend is up to you and depending on what you’re doing with it. We like Heaven Made because it’s very versatile. It doesn’t clash with anything, but we also like Memphis BBQ seasoning too. Mrs. Dash has a Southwest seasoning that’s good on it too.
You don’t have to use the veggies listed. I’ve tossed in anything. Just carrots and frozen peas if that’s all you have hanging around. Like I said, it’s very very loose. Cabbage is great in this too.