Kungpao Tofu (or Chicken or Shrimp or…)

This is another dish that probably shows up on most Chinese restaurants in America. It really is for the die-hard fire-eaters, but even they should leave the chilies on the plate and just enjoy the rest of the dish! You can substitute shrimp or chicken for the tofu and cashews for the peanuts (see the variations below).

ingredients:

  • 1 c pressed beancurd or baked  tofu (more on that here)
  • 1/4 c dried red chilies
  • 1 T oil
  • 1/2 c roasted unsalted skinless peanuts
  • 2 slices fresh ginger root, cut into thin strips
  • 3 scallions, cut into 1″ lengths

sauce:

  • 2 T light soy sauce
  • 1 T Shaoxing cooking wine or dry sherry
  • 1.5 tsp tapioca flour or cornstarch
  • 1 tsp black vinegar or apple cider or rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar, raw cane or brown is best

method:

  1. Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Cut the beancurd into 1/2″ dice.
  3. Wipe the dried peppers with a damp cloth anc cut into 1/2″ sections – keep the seeds if you really love the heat, or throw them out.
  4. Heat the oil in the wok over high heat until it shimmers, the explode the chili sections, ginger, and scallions just until fragrant.
  5. Stirfry the beancurd quickly to heat thru, add the peanuts and stir to combine.
  6. Add the sauce and cook until it thickens and loses its starchy taste, approximately 1-2 m.

variations:

  • You can substitute 1 c diced chicken or shrimp for the tofu: marinate 20 m in 1/2 egg white combined with 1 tsp cornstarch and 1 tsp Shaoxing wine or dry sherry; stirfry in place of the beancurd just until cooked through.
  • Substitute roasted unsalted cashews for the peanuts.
  • You can add some bell peppers, green beans, broccoli, or other vegetable for extra color – dice and stirfry separately, then add back to the dish just before you add the sauce.
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