Kung Pao Tofu

Kung pao chicken and shrimp are staples of Chinese-American restaurants. I have adapted it to tofu for a tasty vegetarian entrée. You can adjust the spiciness to your taste, but bear in mind that Sichuan dishes are typically a bit oily and this one is no exception. Of course you could use this recipe for kung pao chicken or shrimp as well, just leave out the five spice and soy in the marinade.

Serves 4


  • 1 pound extra-firm tofu
  • White of one egg
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • ½ tsp. five spice powder
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • Cooking oil
  • 4 or 5 small dried chilies (dried birds eye chilies are classic but you can use any hot chilies)
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger
  • 4 small, 2 medium, or 1 large yellow onions
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 Tbsp. dry sherry
  • 1 Tbsp. Sichuan chili paste
  • 2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
  • ½ cup roasted peanuts


Slice the tofu into two or three slabs. Put slabs of tofu in a single layer on a small cutting board covered with several folded paper towels. Cover with more paper towels and another small cutting board. Place a weight on top—a couple large cans, for example—and let sit for an hour or so.

Prepare the marinade by lightly beating the egg white then beating in cornstarch to make a smooth thin paste. Add the five spice powder and soy sauce. Cut the tofu into even cubes and fold into the marinade until coated well coated. Set aside.

Slice the carrot and celery. Leave whole, halve, or quarter the onion through the root and stem end, depending their size. Slice into pieces the size of the carrot and celery.  Measure out the remaining ingredients.

Heat about ½ inch of oil in a wok until just smoking. Fry the tofu in small batches until brown and crispy. Set aside.

Pour off all but about 1/8” of oil from wok (if using a round-bottomed wok, leave about ¼”). Add chilies and stir fry for a few seconds. Add the garlic and ginger frying until fragrant. Add the vegetables and stir fry until just softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the sherry, then the chili sauce and hoisin sauce. Return the tofu to the wok and stir until coated and warmed. Finally stir in the peanuts and serve over plain white rice.


2 responses to “Kung Pao Tofu

  1. mysoulforsale November 3, 2010 at 23:21

    This looks great! Can’t wait to try it… thanks!

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