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Kung Pao Tofu with Lager

  • Difficulty 3
  • Prep Time 45 mins + 30 mins pressing
  • Cook Time 25 mins
  • Serves 4 to 6
  • Difficulty 3
  • Prep Time 45 mins + 30 mins pressing
  • Cook Time 25 mins
  • Serves 4 to 6
This homemade kung pao dish lets lager show off its flavour-boosting powers in the signature salty-sweet sauce. Amped up with just the right amount of heat, it is wickedly good over crispy, golden tofu cubes and simple stir-fried veggies. Pressing the tofu first removes excess moisture, which helps the cubes get nice and crispy.

Ingredients for the Crispy Tofu

  • 2 350 g packages extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) salt
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
  • 1-1/2 tbsp (22.5 mL) sesame oil, divided

Ingredients for the Kung Pao Sauce

  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) American or Canadian lager
  • 2-1/2 tbsp (37.5 mL) maple syrup
  • 1-1/2 tbsp (22.5 mL) unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tsp (7.5 mL) sriracha or Asian chili paste (such as sambal oelek), see tips
  • 3/4 tsp (4 mL) salt

Ingredients for the Stir-Fry

  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) sesame oil
  • 1 medium-large head broccoli, cut into small florets (about 4 cups)
  • 2 red peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3 to 5 whole dried red chilies (see tips)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 tbsp (22.5 mL) minced ginger or jarred ginger paste
  • 4 green onions (white and light green parts), cut in 1-inch-long pieces
  • Steamed rice
  • Dark green parts of green onions, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) salted roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

Directions for the Crispy Tofu

  1. 1. Wrap drained tofu in a clean tea towel or several paper towels. Place on a plate or cutting board and top with another plate or cutting board. Place a weight (such as a large book or canned item) on top. Let stand for 30 minutes.
  2. 2. Remove weight and unwrap tofu. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes and place in a medium bowl. Add cornstarch, salt and pepper. Gently toss to coat. Set aside.
  3. 3. In a large nonstick skillet or wok, heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) sesame oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add half of the tofu (doing 2 batches prevents overcrowding — tofu needs space to crisp up). Cook until bottoms are golden and crispy, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook until bottoms are golden and crispy, another 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer tofu to a large plate and set aside.
  4. 4. Repeat with remaining tofu and remaining 1/2 tbsp (7.5 mL) sesame oil. Set skillet aside for stir-fry.

Directions for the Kung Pao Sauce

  1. 1. While pressing tofu, in a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, lager, maple syrup, vinegar, sriracha and salt. Set aside.

Directions for the Stir-Fry

  1. 1. In reserved skillet, heat sesame oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add broccoli, red peppers and green pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until vegetables are just tender-crisp, about 4 minutes.
  2. 2. Add chilies, garlic, ginger, and white and light green parts of green onions. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and green onions start to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. 3. Return tofu to skillet and pour Kung Pao Sauce overtop. Stir gently to coat. Cook just until sauce begins to bubble, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until sauce is thickened and flavours meld, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. 4. Serve immediately over steamed rice in individual bowls. Garnish with dark green parts of green onions and peanuts (if using).

Tips

  • Some Asian chili pastes, such as sambal oelek, may contain shrimp paste or fish sauce, which (obviously) aren’t vegan. If you’re looking to make a 100% plant-based dish, use sriracha, which doesn’t contain any animal products. Or read ingredient labels and choose a vegan version of your favourite chili paste.
  • If you don’t have whole dried red chilies, red pepper flakes make a fine substitute. Use anywhere from a pinch to 1/4 tsp (1 mL) for a mildly spicy dish. Or more, if you want to bring the heat!

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