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Top-tier Veg Recipes - Curated by Tom
Meals So Good, You Won't Miss Meat

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Kung Pao Tofu

(adapted from the Make It Easy, Make It Quick Cookbook by Laurie Burrows Grad, 1993)
Serves 4
Prep time: 20-30 minutes
Cooking time: 5-6 minutes
1/2 c. raw peanuts
8 oz tofu
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. cornstarch
4-6 whole dried red chili peppers, or to taste
3 scallions
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 t. finely minced ginger root
1-2 heads of broccoli
2 carrots
1 cup white or brown rice
1/4 c. peanut oil (for stir frying)

You can halve this sauce recipe for a slightly less saucy meal!
4 T. soy sauce
2 T. dry sherry
4 t. sugar
2 t. white vinegar
2 t. toasted sesame oil

Because this stir fry comes together very quickly, make sure you prep all your ingredients beforehand.
If using stovetop rice, start your rice while meal prepping and it will finish up around the same time as your stirfry. If using brown rice, make sure you start it first (brown rice takes 40 minutes, white rice 20 minutes).
Roasted peanuts can be done on the stove or in a toaster oven, but be vigilant about them because they will turn from “not cooking” to “black” really quickly. Be ready to turn heat down and start shaking to keep them golden brown. I rarely use the oven or toaster oven and just use the stovetop in a small pan for convenience.
I find an oil splatter shield very useful during the stir-fry part. It helps oil from splattering (pain to clean up) and I even use it while tossing the veg in the wok to keep oil & bits from flying around.
The heat of the dish depends on the chiles you use. For dried red chilis ~2-3 inches long, I add 3 for a low-to-medium spice dish and 6 for a woo chil’ level of spice. You can also use fresh chiles, which are slightly less potent than dried. I usually keep a container of dried chiles in the pantry.
You can use any hardy veg in this stirfry, to your preference. I use broccoli and carrots as a base, but sometimes throw in things I have in the fridge. Leafy veg and veg with high water content don’t stirfry very well, so try to stick to heavy, hearty veg.

Slice tofu into flat sheets, place flat on dishtowel, fold dishtowel over, and place a medium-weight pan on top to help the tofu drain. Put weighty items in the pan to further weight if needed (~2 lbs of weight, don’t squash the tofu).
Begin cooking white or brown rice according to package instructions so it cooks while you are meal prepping. Once finished, fluff with a fork and set aside.
Food prep:
Vegetables - remove the broccoli stems and cut broccoli florets into 1-inch bite-sized pieces. Peel and matchstick the carrots. Cut scallions into 1/4” slices, separating greens and whites. Grate ginger and mince garlic.
Tofu - cut drained tofu into 1-inch square blocks. On a plate, mix 1 T. soy sauce and 1 T. cornstarch until it forms a slurry. One by one, roll the tofu in the slurry to coat entirely, leaving your tofu on the plate as you go & working your way around the remaining coating.
Combine soy sauce, sherry, sugar, white vinegar, and toasted sesame oil in a bowl, and stir to form seasoning sauce.
Wipe chili peppers with dampened towel, remove tips, and set on plate. Place white scallions, garlic, and ginger on separate plate near cooking area.
Roast nuts in a 400º oven for 15 minutes or until golden. Use a toaster oven if available, or use a pan on the stovetop - medium heat, shaking the pan constantly so no side gets burned. (The stovetop method is trickiest and requires constant attention to heat & progress.)
Heat peanut oil in wok or heavy cast iron skillet over high heat, and when very hot, add chili peppers and turn in the oil until they turn dark red or black.
Turn down to medium-high heat and quickly add tofu and arrange in the pan so that they are not touching one another (be careful not to splash hot oil; add tofu in small groups by hand). Fry for ~1-2 minutes on a side then flip all blocks onto an uncooked side. Be careful to not have them touch each other until a crust has formed, or they will stick. Continue this process for each side for 6-8 minutes until all blocks are uniformly fried and golden-brown. Turn heat down, remove tofu from pan with a slotted spoon or spatula, leaving oil in pan, and place fried tofu on paper towel on a plate.
Turn heat up to high. When oil is very hot, add broccoli and carrots. Toss to coat with oil and arrange flat, let sit for 2-3 minutes until just smoking, then toss again. You want parts of your veg to turn black from frying on the very hot wok. Repeat process 2x, until veg is softened and slightly blackened.
Add white scallions, ginger, and garlic; stir-fry for 1 minute. Return tofu, add seasoning sauce, and stir-fry for 2-3 minute to combine flavors, until most of the sauce has cooked off and thickened to coat. Off heat, incorporate green scallions (reserving some for garnish).
Garnish with roast peanuts and green scallions, and serve immediately over white rice.
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