Spice things up with vegan Kung Pao Tofu! It’s an easy-to-make stir-fry that is perfect for dinner on busy weeknights. In this dish, tofu and vegetables are smothered in a spicy homemade kung pao sauce. This easy recipe is vegan and gluten-free.
Vegan Kung Pao Tofu
Kung Pao always makes me think of Seinfeld and “George likes his chicken spicy!” Well, Dianne likes her tofu spicy, and sometimes I get a hankering for a spicy stir-fry. When those cravings strike, I like to make kung pao.
Traditionally, kung pao is usually made with chicken, vegetables, chili peppers, and peanuts. It’s super easy to veganize, using your plant-based protein of choice. In addition to cooking it with tofu, I sometimes like to cook it with seitan or Soy Curls.
How to Press Tofu
Make sure you press your tofu before cooking with it. Pressing tofu removes excess water, and it helps the tofu to absorb the flavors of what it’s cooked with. To do this, wrap your tofu in a towel and put something heavy on top of it, such as a cast iron pan or a cutting board topped with a few cans of beans. Leave it for about 30 minutes to an hour. If you give yourself enough time in advance, you can wrap your tofu in a towel and place it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. There’s no need to place anything heavy on top of it if you do it this way, as the towel will absorb the excess liquid over time. You can also use a tofu press, such as the TofuXpress, if you have one. I’ve found that tofu only needs to be pressed for about 15 minutes when I use my press.
Cutting Your Tofu
After your tofu has been pressed, it’s time to cut into bite-sized pieces. You can cut it into cubes, about 1-inch or so, or into little triangles. I like to cut mine into triangles. It tastes the same, but there’s something about the triangles that seems a little fancier than usual.
To make triangles, first you cut your block in half through the center, like you’re slicing a bagel. Leave the two pieces stacked together. Then cut your block into four equal stripes vertically. Make two cuts horizontally so that you have small rectangles. Then you cut each of those rectangles half from corner to corner. And there you have triangle tofu!
How to Make Kung Pao Tofu
This recipe couldn’t be easier to make!
- First, you whisk together the sauce ingredients. Set it aside until you’re ready to use it.
- Then, you cook the tofu in a little oil until it begins to brown. Flip the pieces so that both sides brown. When it’s done, you remove it from the pan and set it aside.
- Next, you cook the broccoli and pepper in the remain oil for about 10 minutes.
- And then you add the tofu back to the pan along with the dried peppers and sauce. Stir to combine everything and let it cook for about 5 minutes to heat everything throughout.
- Finally, you serve your kung pao with cooked rice or noodles, topped with sliced scallions and peanuts.
I like to serve kung pao with cooked brown rice, but I occasionally use rice noodles instead.
I use small dried Thai chili peppers in this dish to give it a little bit of flavor. They are super hot, so I don’t actually eat them, though. Dennis loves them, and he will eat one or two.
I like to use Huy Fong’s Chili Garlic Sauce in this recipe. It has a nice flavor and adds a nice amount of heat. If you can’t find it, you can use red pepper flakes instead. If you like really spicy stir-fries, you can more spice to suite your tastes. And of course, you can reduce the spice if you don’t want too much heat.
Kung Pao Tofu with Broccoli
For the Kung Pao Sauce
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon garlic chile paste or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
For the Stir-Fry
- 2 teaspoons peanut oil
- 1 14 ounce container extra firm tofu drained, pressed, and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 bunches of broccoli cut into small pieces (about 6 cups)
- 1 medium red bell pepper chopped
- 5 or 6 small dried chile peppers
- 4 cups cooked brown rice or rice noodles
- 1/4 cup unsalted peanuts chopped
- 2 scallions thinly sliced
In a small bowl, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients. Set aside
Heat half of the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and cook, flipping occasionally for about 10 minutes, or until the pieces are golden brown. Remove the tofu from the pan and set them aside.
In the same pan, add the rest of the oil, broccoli, and red pepper. Cook, stirring frequently for 5 to 10 minutes, until the broccoli is bright green. Add the tofu back to the pan along with the sauce and the dried chiles. Stir thoroughly and cook for about 5 more minutes, until heated throughout.
Serve the tofu and broccoli over the rice or noodles and top with chopped peanuts and sliced scallions.
Other easy dinner recipes you might enjoy include:
- Broccoli and Tempeh with Spicy Peanut Sauce
- Sesame Cauliflower
- Tofu and Shirataki Noodle Stir-Fry
- Tofu Teriyaki Stir-Fry
- Sweet and Sour Brussels Sprouts