When we lived up in Toronto, the boy and I would get Chinese take out every once in a while as a sort of guilty pleasure, we’re-too-lazy-to-cook treat (we would alternate between this and Indian take out, which was delicious too). So every once in while here in Singapore, I get a craving for the North American version of Chinese food. I say North American because you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in Singapore who would ever think of General Tso’s Chicken as Chinese food (H’s “you’re-cooking-what?” reaction pretty much sums it up).
But this sweet, spicy little dish has always been a favourite. So having given up my chicken-eating ways for a while now, I applied the same principles and made General Tso’s tofu instead. The key to getting the substitution perfect is making sure you get that crispy edge on the tofu. That crunch is really what make the tofu version just as good as the original (if not better!).
General Tso’s Tofu
(makes about 2 servings)
What You’ll Need:
1 package extra firm tofu, about 300g
3 tbsp of cornstarch
1 small green pepper
1 small red pepper
Cooking oil for frying*
A few stalks of spring onions, chopped
A 1-1.5″ piece of ginger, grated
Sesame oil for frying
2 tbsp of light soy sauce
2 tbsp of hoisin sauce
1 tbsp of Chinese rice wine
1 tbsp of rice vinegar
a pinch of chili flakes
1/2 tbsp of sugar
a small handful of cilantro, snipped or torn
a few pinches of toasted sesame seeds
*You can vary the amount of cooking oil depending on how you want to fry the tofu. If you’re okay with “deep” frying, you can use more oil so the tofu is mostly submerged. If not, you can also fry with about 1/2″ of oil in the pan, but you will need to flip the cubes while frying. Or as a healthier option, you can try baking the tofu in a pan with a generous sprinkling of olive oil (not sure about the crunch factor this way though).
What to Do:
Remove tofu from package and place on a plate on top of 3-4 paper towels. Set a heavy object on top and allow to sit for about 15-20 minutes. This will remove some excess moisture from the tofu.
In the meantime, cut up the red and green peppers into pieces. Then, in a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the sauce. Stir well and set aside.
Once tofu is ready, cut into 1″ cubes and place in a medium bowl. Add the cornstarch and toss lightly until each piece is evenly coated. Heat up cooking oil in a frying pan. Once oil is hot, fry the tofu until each piece is golden brown and crispy (I left mine in a little longer so they get ultra crispy, I like my tofu like that). A little tip here: try frying in two batches, this will prevent the cubes from sticking to one another if they get too close. Also, I like to use wooden chopsticks so I can flip the cubes mid-way so they get crunchy on all sides. Once tofu is ready, remove from oil onto some paper towels so the excess oil can be absorbed.
Heat sesame oil in frying pan. Add spring onions and grated ginger and fry until fragrant, about 1 min. Add green & red peppers, frying until they begin to soften, about 3-4 mins. Next, add the sauce mixture, bring to simmer for about 2 mins. Add tofu to mixture, toss to coat.
Toss in a generous sprinkling of fresh chopped cilantro and toasted sesame seeds. Serve with steamed rice. Enjoy!