One of the few things I REALLY miss about living in Jersey is the Chinese take out. Everywhere I lived in that state, even in the middle of no where growing up, there was decent to good Chinese take out. Florida? Not so much. We’ve tried a few places over the years, but for whatever reason, either the food isn’t good, the restaurant closes, or both, we just don’t have good Chinese take out here. So whenever I want vegetarian comfort food, I go for Indian, but it’s not the same. There is nothing like a good General Tso’s.
I found a recipe on-line that looked interesting. Tofu instead of chicken? Check. Ingredients that I can actually get? Check. Reasonable cooking time and method? Check and check. So .. why not try it. And the best part – when making this at home, I can actually get rid of the broccoli and substitute snow peas! /squee!
OK – how did this do? I bought the tofu already cubed, thinking this is one less step for me. I used about half the contained (16 oz. container, so 8 oz. tofu) but didn’t change the sauce portion. I like the sauce – its the best part!
I marinated the tofu, which isn’t something I normally do. Tofu gets its flavor from the sauces, not from any marinade – or so I thought. This one may have proven me wrong. The tofu was just a touch spicy; not hot or burning, but enough that you knew there was some flavor there. The marinade also helped when I added the cornstarch to make the paste like coating. Full disclosure – at this stage, I honestly thought we would be ordering pizza for dinner. It looked gloopy and sticky and just awful, but it did match the description in the recipe, so I kept going. I am so glad I did.
That horrible sludge on the tofu in the marinade bag makes a perfectly crispy coating when fried. I mean beautiful. It crisps, turns golden in color and the tofu inside stays moist and silky. I was surprised. Really surprised.
I stirred together the Thai Chili’s (thank you to the Asian market on the way home!!) and the snow peas and scallions also thinking this isn’t going to work, but it did. I had fresh chili’s, and we didn’t eat them, but they did impart a nice heat (not too much) to the dish. Bob did get one bite on a snow pea, so I know they transferred the flavor and heat as expected. I added back in the tofu and tossed in the sauce. The sauce gelled really fast. It was still kind of a sauce, but it clung (which it should do) to everything. The problem for me was that there wasn’t any sauce not clinging to vegetables and tofu to pour on the rice.
But the flavors were pretty perfect. Both Bob and I were actually impressed with this dish. It tasted like *good* Chinese takeout and had a perfect consistency for the tofu. Best part – it was super simple to make and I now have everything on hand. (I still have leftover Thai chili’s, so I’m planning to dry them for future use.) Start to finish this was about 25 minutes. Perfect for a weeknight dinner or even a lazy day lunch. The only thing I’m changing is the cornstarch in the sauce – I’m definitely cutting that in half. While I think it was meant to cling to everything, I really wanted sauce on my rice.
I used the recipe from Minimalist Baker pretty much straight through. I reduced the tofu to about 8 ounces, and changed out broccoli for snow peas. For soy sauce, I used the regular soy sauce I have in the fridge – it might be tamari, but I’m not sure. When the recipe calls for something or maple syrup, I went with the maple since I have that on hand and don’t have the other sugars. I used toasted sesame oil and regular canola oil. I was out of ginger, so I used a tiny bit of dried ginger and it worked fine – maybe an eighth of a teaspoon. The next time I make this, and there will be a next time, I am cutting the cornstarch in the sauce to one teaspoon, but otherwise, doing it the same way.