Green China Restaurant

General Tso’s Tofu (Better Than Takeout)

Introduction

General Tso’s Tofu offers a delightful fusion of flavors, featuring crispy caramelized tofu paired with tender broccoli robe, all enveloped in a tangy, savory, and sweet sticky sauce. This dish showcases the versatility of tofu in Chinese cuisine, presenting a rich and satisfying plant-based option. By following a few simple steps, you can achieve extra crispy tofu without deep frying, and create a delicious General Tso sauce to elevate the dish to perfection.

General Tso’s Tofu (Better Than Takeout)

How to cook crispy tofu without deep frying?

The trick to achieving the most delicious General Tso’s tofu lies in the marinating process.

Begin by slicing the tofu into 1/2” (1 cm) pieces and placing them in a gallon-size ziplock bag.

Next, marinate the tofu with a mixture of soy sauce and maple syrup. This combination not only adds a delightful char to the tofu but also imparts a luscious caramelized flavor.

After marinating, drain all excess liquid from the bag. Then, add cornstarch into the bag and gently shake it to ensure that each piece of tofu is evenly coated. This step is crucial for achieving an exceptionally crispy crust.

Once coated, shallow-fry the tofu in a large pan. Don’t fret about the tofu falling apart; using extra firm tofu and handling the bag gently will prevent any mishaps. Even if some pieces break apart during cooking, rest assured that they will still turn out incredibly flavorful and crispy.

And there you have it! Follow these simple steps, and you’ll be rewarded with the most delectable General Tso’s tofu you’ve ever tasted.

General Tso’s Tofu (Better Than Takeout)

Ingredients

How to cut the broccoli rabe for stir fry?

If your broccoli rabe is on the larger side, trim off about 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) of the florets, including the stems with flowers on top. Remove the larger leaves from the stem, then chop the stems into small pieces.

For smaller batches of broccoli rabe, simply trim off 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) of the florets, including the stems with flowers on top. You can leave the rest of the bunch intact or halve the stems if preferred.

Prep work

When preparing your ingredients, it’s helpful to organize them based on the order they’ll be used in the recipe. This not only reduces clutter in your workspace but also makes it easier to add ingredients at the right time and ensures nothing gets left out.

Other vegetable alternatives

Regular broccoli can be substituted for broccoli rabe in this recipe. However, if you’re looking for alternative options, consider the following:

  • Swiss chard: Chop the stems into small pieces and the leaves into bite-size pieces.
  • Kale: Remove the leaves and chop them into small, bite-sized pieces. If using the stem, slice it as thinly as possible.
  • Spinach: Use baby spinach directly, or halve the larger spinach leaves.
  • Broccolini: Remove the top florets and chop the stems into small pieces.

Since the General Tso’s sauce is rich and sweet, it pairs exceptionally well with slightly bitter vegetables.

Note:

If using broccoli or broccolini, you’ll need to pre-cook them before adding them to General Tso’s Tofu stir fry (the method is included in the recipe below). However, if you opt for other vegetables listed above, you can add them directly into the pan.

General Tso’s Tofu (Better Than Takeout)

How to cook General Tso’s Tofu

Spread the marinated tofu evenly in a large pan and cook without disturbance until both sides achieve a golden brown color. Then, transfer the tofu to a plate. In the same pan, sauté the aromatics until fragrant. Next, add the broccoli rabe and cook until it wilts. Return the cooked tofu to the pan and pour in the sauce. Stir continuously until the sauce thickens and coats all the ingredients evenly.

Serving Suggestions

Once your tofu is crispy and your sauce is ready, it’s time to bring everything together:

  • Toss with Broccoli Rabe: Sauté tender broccoli rabe in a pan until slightly wilted, then add the crispy tofu and pour the General Tso sauce over the top. Gently toss everything together until evenly coated.
  • Garnish and Serve: Sprinkle sliced green onions and sesame seeds over the dish for added flavor and visual appeal. Serve hot over steamed rice or noodles for a complete and satisfying meal.

General Tso’s Tofu Recipe (Better Than Takeout)


Ingredients

For the Tofu:

  • 1 block (16 ounces / 450 g) extra firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or other syrup, or sugar)

For the Sauce (or Pre-made General Tso’s Sauce):

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

For the Stir Fry:

  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch (or enough to coat the tofu)
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 batch broccoli rabe or 1 big head broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces (yields about 4 cups once cut)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 green onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 dried Chinese chili peppers (Optional)

Instructions

Preparing the Tofu:

  1. Pat tofu dry with paper towels. Cut into 1/2” (1 cm) pieces and transfer into a large ziplock bag.
  2. Add soy sauce and maple syrup. Gently flip the bag a few times to coat tofu with the liquid. Marinate for 10 to 15 minutes while preparing other ingredients.

Making the Sauce:

  1. Mix all the sauce ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. If using pre-made General Tso’s Sauce, shake the sauce to make the cornstarch dissolve completely, then pour 1/3 cup of the sauce into a bowl, add 1/3 cup of stock, and mix well.

Cooking the Stir Fry:

  1. Once the tofu is marinated, open the bag slightly to drain and discard all the liquid. Add the cornstarch, a tablespoon at a time, then gently toss the bag to coat the tofu.
  2. If using broccoli, add 1/4 cup water to a large pan and heat over medium-high heat until simmering. Add the broccoli. Cook covered for 1 minute, or until al dente. Transfer the broccoli to a plate. Wipe the pan clean with paper towels.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of oil into the pan. Add the tofu without overlapping. Let cook without moving for 2 minutes, or until the bottom turns golden. Flip to brown the other side, 2 minutes or so. If the pan gets too hot, turn to medium or medium-low heat. You can keep browning the other sides of the tofu if you prefer. Transfer the cooked tofu to a plate and set it aside.
  4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, ginger, garlic, green onion, and dried red chilies (if using). Stir a few times to release the fragrance.
  5. If using broccoli rabe, add it to the pan. Cook and stir until wilted. If using broccoli, add the cooked broccoli back into the pan.
  6. Stir the sauce again to dissolve the cornstarch completely. Pour it into the pan. Cook and stir until the sauce thickens and coats all the ingredients.
  7. Add the tofu back into the pan. Gently toss it to coat it with the sauce. Transfer everything to a large serving plate.

Serving:

  • Serve hot as a main dish.

Notes

  • To make the dish gluten-free, use tamari to replace the soy sauce, dry sherry instead of Shaoxing wine, and balsamic vinegar to replace Chinkiang vinegar.

Nutrition Information (per serving)

  • Calories: 344kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 42.4g
  • Protein: 13.3g
  • Fat: 15.3g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.7g
  • Sodium: 903mg
  • Potassium: 569mg
  • Fiber: 4.2g
  • Sugar: 20.4g
  • Calcium: 295mg
  • Iron: 3mg

This General Tso’s Tofu recipe promises to deliver restaurant-quality flavors right in your own kitchen. Enjoy the perfect balance of sweet, tangy, and savory with this delectable dish!

Conclusion

General Tso’s Tofu is a delicious and satisfying dish that showcases the versatility of tofu in Chinese cuisine. By following these simple techniques, you can create crispy tofu bites with a caramelized texture, paired perfectly with a tangy, savory, and sweet sauce. Whether you’re a tofu enthusiast or looking to incorporate more plant-based options into your diet, this recipe is sure to become a favorite. So why not give it a try and enjoy a taste of restaurant-quality Chinese cuisine in the comfort of your own home?

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