Wednesday, January 12, 2011

General Tso's Tofu

What an authentic inauthentic recipe!  It tastes just like the real thing... even if the "real thing" here is the chicken I remember getting from the Leann Chin buffet as a child.  You can read more about the murky, recent, and largely American history of the General Tso's Chicken on or wikipedia.

This recipe from chic vegan was like tofu candy: a delicious mixture of textures and tastes.  And--although this might surprise you about American Chinese food--it's not very healthy, at least by my standards.  The recipe uses lots of oil and quite a bit of sugar (though I was able to halve the sugar with no problem), and tons of cornstarch, which I realized increases the calorie content (as well as the deliciousness content) by a ton.  I believe we're talking like over 300 calories of cornstarch per serving.

But the delicate battered crispiness is not to be beaten!  The sauce is sweet but still flavorful (use a lot of pepper, though).  Besides halving the sugar, I also skimped a bit on cornstarch, used seasoned rice vinegar instead of white vinegar, and skipped the sherry originally called for.  This recipe worked really well.  It looks a bit complicated, but if you mise everything en place before starting, you'll see that it actually doesn't have that many steps.

Cornstarch-dredged tofu cubes starting to fry

Tofu added back to the sauce at the end

General Tso's Tofu
(adapted from Chic Vegan)


1 (12-oz) block firm tofu, in 1″ cubes (I pressed it for a while before using)
1 egg equivalent (e.g., EnerG Egg Replacer), prepared
3 TB + 2 TB water, divided
scant 3/4 c + 1 TB cornstarch, divided
vegetable oil for frying + 3 TB vegetable oil, divided
3 green onions, chopped
1 TB minced ginger
1 TB minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
2/3 c vegetable stock
2 TB granulated sugar
2 TB soy sauce
1 TB seasoned rice vinegar
red pepper, to taste

1. Mix the egg replacer as specified on the box and add an additional 3 TB water.  Dip tofu in egg replacer mixture and coat completely.  Transfer to a second bowl.  Sprinkle 3/4 c cornstarch over tofu and coat completely.  Watch out that the cornstarch doesn’t clump up at the bottom of the bowl.
2. Heat oil in pan and fry tofu pieces until golden. Drain excess oil. Heat 3 TB vegetable oil in pan on medium heat.  Add green onions, ginger, and garlic; cook for about 2 minutes.  Be careful not to burn garlic.
3. Add vegetable stock, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, and red pepper.
4. Mix 2 TB water with 1 TB cornstarch and pour into mixture stirring well.  Add fried tofu and coat evenly.  Serve immediately with steamed broccoli over your choice of rice.  Serves about 3.

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