Chinese Take-Away just got a lot cheaper and healthier! Kung Pao is one of our Chinese Restaurant favourites, and it’s just so easy to make at home using simple ingredients! Whilst this dish works very well with chicken, we decided to go for an all-plant alternative! We’re convinced that once you taste this Crunchy Tofu Kung Pao, you will see Tofu in a whole different light!
Cooking your favourite takeaway items at home is extremely satisfying, especially when they taste better than the dishes you were originally trying to replicate! Most importantly, you can adjust the seasoning and spices to your own preferences. You can be sure you’re using the ingredients of the quality you like and no added preservatives and flavour enhancers. Alright, I’m not going to be a hypocrite here – I LOVE A GOOD TAKEAWAY but cooking your own is nonetheless extremely rewarding!
There are many different types of tofu to choose from, but for this Crispy Tofu Kung Pao recipe, we need the firm or extra firm type. Half an hour before you start cooking, take your tofu out of the fridge and drain it. If you want your tofu crispy, you will need to press it first. Wrap in a clean tea towel and place something heavy on top: you can use a heavy pan, a chopping board with lots of cans on top or a bunch of books. Doing this ensures all extra liquid is pressed out.
All things cook at the same time: your crispy tofu, rice, vegetables and sauce. So you want to be organised from the very beginning. Get all your ingredients ready. Whilst the tofu is being pressed, peel your carrots and chop them into small (1/2 cm) cubes). Then deseed and chop the pepper into bite-size pieces.
Now get all the sauce ingredients ready. You’ll need your root ginger finely chopped and garlic cloves thinly sliced. Then deseed and thinly slice one red chilli (if you like things spicy, keep the seeds).
Get your jar of agave nectar ready (or honey if not vegan), weigh your salted roasted peanuts. Finally, slice a spring onion that you will use to sprinkle on top of the dish.
In a small bowl, mix 1/2 tbsp of cornflour with 6 tbsp of water. Add 2 tbsp of soy sauce and 1 tbsp of rice vinegar, mix and set aside. Cornflour will sink to the bottom so you will have to mix again just before using.
In a large bowl, mix 2 tbsp of cornflour with a generous pinch of fine salt and 1 tsp of chilli powder. After 30 minutes of pressing your tofu, cut it into small pieces (choose whatever shape you want) and tip into cornflour mixture. Make sure to cover all the tofu pieces thoroughly.
You are now ready to cook your Crispy Tofu Kung Pao. Put your rice on to boil. Then heat a large pan with a generous glug of oil. Once hot, tip in your cornflour-covered tofu. Stirring occasionally, fry on medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown and very crispy. When cooked, place the tofu pieces on a paper towel to get rid of any excess oil.
Whilst the tofu is frying, heat another frying pan with a tsp of oil and stir fry carrots and pepper on high heat. It will take about 5 minutes. They will char slightly, soften but retain most of their crunch still.
Put another small pan on low-medium heat and add a tbsp of oil. Tip in prepared ginger and garlic and fry for 1-2 minutes (don’t let them brown too much). Then add a tbsp of agave nectar (or honey) and sliced chilli. Stirring, fry for another minute. Stir your cornflour-soy sauce mixture and tip into the saucepan. Stir until it thickens slightly. This is your Kung Pao sauce. If it gets too thick, just add some more water and stir to loosen. If you like your food spicy, you can add a tbsp of sriracha or other hot chilli sauce.
Combine everything together: tip your sauce and tofu into the vegetable pan and add peanuts. Stir everything, sprinkle with spring onions and serve with white rice. Chopsticks optional, but recommended 😉
If you like our Crispy Tofu Kung Pao just as much as we do, and are looking for other Asian-inspired meals, we have plenty of suggestions for you to try next:
- Vegan Pineapple Stir Fry with Curried Coconut Sauce
- Mushroom Dahl with Coriander Relish
- Curried Carrot and Lentil Soup
Crispy Tofu Kung Pao
- 200 g tofu firm or extra firm
- 2½ tbsp cornflour 2 tbsp for tofu and ½ tbsp for sauce
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1 carrot chopped intp ½cm cubes
- 1 pepper cut into bite-size pieces
- 25 g root ginger peeled and finely chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp agave nectar or runny honey if not vegan
- 1 red chilli deseeded and thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 6 tbsp water
- 30 g salted roasted peanuts
- 1 spring onion sliced diagonally
- 140 g white rice
- Thirty minutes before cooking, drain your tofu and wrap it in a clean tea towel. Put something heavy on top and leave pressed down for half an hour to get rid of any excess moisture.
- When ready to cook, cut tofu into small pieces. In a large bowl, mix 2 tbsp of cornflour, a pinch of salt and chilli powder. Tip the tofu into the cornflour mixture and make sure it's thoroughly coated.
- Boil your rice. In the meantime, heat a generous glug of oil in a frying pan. Fry your tofu for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden and crispy. When done, transfer onto a paper towel to drain any excess oil.
- In the meantime, on high heat, stir-fry your vegetables in a separate frying pan with a little oil, until slightly browned, slightly softened but still retaining most of the crunch. It should take about 5 minutes.
- To make the sauce, add 1 tbsp of oil to a small pan and add garlic and ginger. Fry for 1-2 minutes, then stir in a tbsp of agave nectar (or honey) and add sliced chilli. Reduce the heat to the minimum. In a small bowl, mix ½ tbsp of cornflour, 6 tbsp of water, 1 tbsp of rice vinegar and 2 tbsp of soy sauce. Tip into the saucepan and stir until thickened. This is your Kung Pao Sauce. Add more water to loosen if required.
- Tip the sauce, crispy tofu and peanuts into the vegetables and stir. Serve sprinkled with spring onions with a side of boiled white rice.