Kung Pao Tofu

Kung Pao is an Americanized, Szechuan-style dish found on many Chinese restaurant menus and is most often made with chicken or beef, very often fried in oil. It is typically spicy (the original dish in China uses Szechuan peppercorns and dried chilis) and contains some type of fresh nut such as peanuts or cashews. In this whole food, plant-based version, the tofu is baked rather than fried and broccoli adds vibrant color. You can adjust the spiciness by controlling the amount of cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes you use. The ingredient list may look long, but once you have everything assembled, this dish comes together quickly.

Try this dish served with a steaming pot of black tea!

Kung Pao Tofu

Serves 4-5 generously

For the tofu:

2 - 14 oz packages firm or extra firm tofu, or if you don't like to press tofu try to find a "super firm" version)

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2-3 pinches cayenne pepper (use even more if you like it spicy)

2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder

For the sauce:

1/4 cup minced fresh ginger root

4 large cloves (or 8 small cloves) garlic, minced (about 3 tablespoons)

3-4 pinches crushed red pepper (more if you like it spicy)

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce or tamari

1/4 cup Hoison sauce

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (see *note)

4 teaspoons onion powder

1/4 cup agave syrup (or date syrup or maple syrup)

1/4 cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder

1 cup vegetable broth

For the dish:

1 - 8 oz. can sliced water chestnuts, drained and rinsed

4 scallions, thinly sliced

salt and pepper, to taste

6 cups broccoli florets ( you can use frozen, but fresh will result in a crispier and firmer texture)

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons raw (unroasted) cashews (reserve the 2 tablespoons for garnish)

3 cups hot, cooked brown rice

  1. Press each tofu block for 30 minutes to 1 hour (see **note).

  2. While the tofu is being pressed, make the sauce by whisking all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Set aside.

  3. When the tofu is pressed, cut into bite-sized cubes and place the cubes in a large bowl.