I simply love the kung pao tofu at PF Changs and Pei Wei – just love the crunch of peanuts and the taste of the sauce over the tofu with veggies. I wanted to try this at home and after 2 to 3 trials, this version of kung pao tofu has been voted into our family menu by the entire family. Try it out and customize to suit to your taste buds ( I have added ginger here, which is not generally present in kung pao – so do your own customising if you like ). Try it.
Excuse the quality of pics here. Took them in the last minute before finishing the dish off at dinner table with a mobile camera. Promise you step-by-step pictures next time!
Bon Appetit 🙂
12 ounces firm tofu – drained, patted dry and dry fried(if tub tofu else brick tofu can be use – no need to dry fry then).
Stir fry vegetables – 1 to 2 cups (Onions, carrot, sugar snap peas, zucchini, water chestnuts, broccolli, celery, scallions etc – whatever you like ).
Ginger – 2tbsp finely minced (optional – my family loves ginger, hence i add this, though it is not part of the traditional recipe.)
Red whole chillies – 3-4 nos.
Olive oil – 2 tbsp
Cornstarch – 1 tbsp – mixed with 2 tbsps water
Soy sauce or Tamari- 2 tbsp
Rice wine vinegar – 2 tbsp
Hoisin sauce – 1 tbsp
Thai chilli sauce – 1 tbsp
Peanut oil or Sesame oil – 3 tbsp (Peanut oil preferred as kung pao is a peanut based dish)
Sugar – 1 tsp to 2 tsp (Optional)
Red pepper flakes – crushed- 1tsp (optional – I add it to increase the spicyness.)
Roasted peanuts – 1/2 cup + 1tbsp
Wash the tub tofu well and drain water from the tub tofu well by keeping under weight. Dry fry the tofu as mentioned here and cut the tofu into bite-sized cubes. If you like instead of dry frying, you can cut the tofu to bite sized pieces and heat 2 tbsp of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat and add the tofu. Fry the tofu, turning every couple of minutes, until golden on all sides. Drain on paper towels. Note: I have tried this recipe with both tub and brick tofu. When using tub tofu – cut into small cubes and do as above mentioned. When using brick tofu, however, there will not be much water to drain(infact none), just wash the tofu well and slice into thin 1.5 cms long strips and add(you can bake them for 10 mins at 350F if you need it crisp, though it taste better unbaked). They taste better and helps with the aesthetic factor of presentation too.
If the peanuts are not toasted, roast the peanuts on a dry pan till golden brown and keep aside. In a small bowl make the kung pao sauce – mix together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, hoisin sauce, thai chilli sauce, peanut or sesame oil (1 tbsp), sugar(if using), crushed red pepper and cornstarch. To this add a tablespoon of roasted peanuts and grind into a smooth paste.
In a sauté pan heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of peanut/sesame oil and add the whole red chilies and ginger and saute for a few seconds till aroma comes. Sauté the vegetables next – add the thicker ones, like carrots, first and let cook for two minutes. Then the onion and bell peppers for another two minutes. Add delicate vegetables like zucchini, snap peas last and only cook briefly or they will get mushy and lose vitamins. Add the golden tofu cubes and mix gently. Now add the sauce, a little at a time, until you get the desired coating. Let the mixture simmer for a few minutes to reduce the sauce and thicken it. For the final touch, sprinkle with roasted peanuts nuts for a truly local flair.
Serve over jasmine rice and enjoy!