This General Tso’s tofu recipe is the response to the request of my readers who want more vegetarian dishes. It is a pan-fry tofu dish coated with the same sauce for General Tso’s chicken. The tofu soaks up the flavor like a sponge and makes it exceptionally flavorful.
This recipe involves a few steps. First, marinate the tofu to let it absorb the spices and soy sauce. Next, pan-fry until it becomes fragrant. Lastly, coat the tofu with the same sauce for General Tso’s chicken. The result is tofu with multiple layers of flavor and a chewy texture that resembles meat.
Here is a detailed explanation of how to prepare this pan-fried tofu, General Tso’s style.
How to make General Tso’s tofu
1. Marinate the tofu
Use firm tofu for any pan-fried tofu recipe
The tofu available varies in different places, but always choose firm tofu for this recipe to prevent it from breaking in the pan.
Tofu is widely available in Asia, and I am spoilt with choices at the market. I am not only able to get firm tofu, but even the ready-made pan-fried tofu. Some of them are even pre-marinated type, which means I can skip the entire process in this step!
However, I will use the firm tofu in this article to explain how to prepare this General Tso’s tofu from scratch.
Gently cut the tofu into one-inch squares. If you find that the tofu that you buy is not firm enough, you can put it on a flat surface, and then place a cake board on top. Let the liquid releases as much as possible from the tofu. The tofu will become firmer and less likely to break during pan-frying.
Marinate the tofu
Tofu behaves like a sponge, which absorbs any flavor that adds to it. Therefore, I add some flavor by constituting a sauce to marinate the tofu. The only difference from the General Tso’s Chicken is that tofu will take a much shorter time to pick up the flavor. Hence, I only marinate the tofu with for about one hour before proceeding to the next step.
The marinade consists primarily of light soy sauce and some other condiments. I also add a small amount of Chinese five-spice powder. You can follow the recipe in this article if you are making it from scratch.
Alternatively, you can make use of the braising liquid, which I use to prepare tea eggs and soy sauce chicken to marinate the tofu. It is common for most of the Chinese family to cook a larger batch of the braising liquid whenever they want to make tea eggs or soy sauce chicken, as the braising liquid is suitable for other recipes such as tofu or as the sauce for noodles.
Once the tofu has absorbed the marinade, remove it and drained. The tofu has to be dry enough since we will proceed to pan-fry it in the following step.
2. Pan-fry the tofu
Place the marinated tofu on a bed of cornflour. Coat the tofu with the cornflour. Then pan-fried over low heat in a non-stick pan until both sides turn golden brown. I find that non-stick pan is the better choice over a wok because it requires less oil and healthier. Furthermore, the cooking process does not involve high heat, and therefore wok is not necessary.
Once the tofu is nicely browned, remove from the pan and set aside.
3 Coat the tofu with the General Tso’s sauce
The tofu is delightful on its own even without the sauce. Nevertheless, it is undoubtedly tastier after coating with my time tested General Tso’s sauce.
The sauce consists of the aromatics and the seasonings. The aromatics are ginger, garlic, and scallions. Dry chili is a welcome addition if you prefer it to be spicier.
Here are the steps:
- Saute the chopped aromatics in a pan with some oil. Once it turns aromatic, add the light and dark soy sauce, wine, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, and dilute it with some water.
- Once the sauce is boiling, add the pan-fried tofu.
- Combine the sauce with the tofu carefully with a pair of chopsticks over low heat. Sprinkle some additional chopped scallions and dish out.
There is no need to add cornflour to thicken the sauce because part of the cornflour from the coating of the tofu will mix with the sauce and thicken it.
Garnish with some chopped red chili and more scallions if you like. Now it is ready to serve.
For marinating the tofu (A)
- 600g of firm tofu (2 blocks)
- 1 tsp 5-spice powder
- 4 slices ginger, bashed
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 tbsp (60 ml) light soy sauce
- 1 tsp (5g) sugar
For the Sauce: (B)
- 1/2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 3 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
For sautéing (C)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons chopped garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
- 2 teaspoons scallion, cut
- 1 dry red chili (optional), cut to 2cm sections
- Sufficient cornstarch to coat the tofu
- Chopped scallion and red chili to garnish
- Cut the firm tofu into 1 inch Square.
- Prepare the marinade for the tofu by combining the ingredients in A.
- Bring it to a boil to dissolve the sugar.
- Marinate the tofu for one hour.
- Coat the tofu with cornflour.
- Pan-fry the tofu until golden brown.
- Coarsely chop the garlic, ginger, and scallion.
- Prepare the General Tso's sauce by combining ingredients in B.
- Saute the aromatics until fragrance.
- Add the General Tso's sauce.
- Add the tofu and combine well.
- Garnish with chili and scallion. Serve.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1441Total Fat: 69gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 42gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 4804mgCarbohydrates: 134gFiber: 10gSugar: 29gProtein: 77g