This is our plant-based version of the classic Chinese takeaway dish, General Tso’s chicken. It is named after the statesman and military leader of the Oing dynasty, Tso Tsung-t’ang, although no one knows why as it seems unlikely that he ever tasted the dish, which is a shame. because it’s delicious!
Crispy, sticky and sweet, this is tofu at its best. For an extra nutty flavor, you can briefly toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan before sprinkling them over the dish. It goes very well with our homemade tofu (page 222).
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Total duration: 40 minutes
Here’s how to do it:
- Marinate the tofu. Cut the tofu into 3/4 inch cubes and put it in a bowl with the soy sauce and apple cider vinegar. Toss to coat, set aside for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the jasmine rice. Rinse the rice under cold running water for 1 minute. Pour into the saucepan and pour the water over it. Add the tea bag or jasmine flower, star anise and salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting and leave covered for about 12 minutes while you fry the tofu.
- Fry the tofu. Drain the tofu, keeping the marinade aside for the sauce. Put the tofu in a clean bowl with the cornstarch and toss to coat well. Place skillet over medium-high heat and add vegetable oil. Fry the cubes in the hot oil until golden brown, then transfer them to the plate lined with paper towel. Turn off the heat and leave the hot oil in the pan.
- Prepare the sauce. Peel and finely chop the garlic and add it to the tofu oil in the pan (it should sizzle and start to brown). Measure all other sauce ingredients into a bowl. Pour the rest of the marinade.
- Whisk until smooth. Pour a few large spoonfuls of starchy water from the top of the rice pot into the bowl. Lower the heat to medium and pour in the sauce. Stir until it begins to thicken. Add the tofu and stir to coat.
- Serve. Fluff the cooked rice with a fork and scoop it into bowls. Top with tofu. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and hot peppers or dried sichuan pepper flakes, chop the chives and serve.
Extract of SHELVES! on a budget by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby. Reprinted with permission from HarperCollins, 2022.
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