I love Kung Pao Chicken, but I'm not always in the mood for meat so sometimes I make Kung Pao Tofu instead. It has all the same great flavors and the added textural contrast that the tofu offers because it is much softer than chicken and is a great counterpoint for the crunchy peanuts and crisp red pepper. Tofu is really more like a sponge than a distinct taste by itself, except for Asians who can definitely tell the subtle differences in the kinds and brands of tofu. I personally adore tofu as I grew up with it and have it at least once or twice a week. So, the best way to cook with tofu is to be sure to marinate the it ahead of time as it will give this dish a lot more flavor. This recipe can be used for chicken as well and either version is one of my kid's favorite weeknight meals when served with a lot of steamed rice and some stir fried green vegetables, such as baby Bok Choy or pea pods.
Kung Pao Tofu
1 package firm tofu (16 oz), drained and cut into 1/2 inch squares
2 teaspoons Hoisin Sauce
2 teaspoons Soy Sauce or Tamari
1 Tablespoon Rice Wine
1 red pepper, cut into small dice
4 green onions, cleaned, cut into small pieces, white parts and green parts separated
1 large clove garlic minced
1 slice ginger, peel removed and minced
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 additional Tablespoons Soy Sauce or Tamari
1 heaping teaspoon or more Chili Garlic Sauce
1/2 cup water mixed with 1 heaping teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup raw peanuts, toasted in a pan until lightly browned
Heat wok or large frying pan and add in the vegetable oil. Put in the garlic, ginger and white part of the green onions. Cook briefly until you smell the fragrance. Add in the red pepper and tofu and cook until the tofu begins to brown lightly. Add in additional Soy Sauce, Chili Garlic Sauce and Water-Cornstarch Mixture. Cook, stirring until mixture thickens slightly. Add in the peanuts and green onion tops - toss and serve with white rice.
Five Element Analysis
Tofu is a Metal/Water Food because it is white (and processed) and therefore Metallic and it is made from soy beans, which are Watery and this element is enhanced by the soy sauce and Hoisin sauce in the dish. The aromatic trio of garlic, ginger and green onion bring in even more of the Metal Element. The Fire Element is represented by the red pepper, rice wine and the Chili Garlic sauce so it is covered and the peanuts contribute the Earth Element. Only the Wood Element is missing so be sure to serve it with some leafy green vegetables to create a Five Element Balance in your meal.