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General Tso's Tofu A Vegan Take on Chinese Takeout

December 4, 2020

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General Tso's Tofu with green onions and red chiles

I haven't had Chinese takeout in probably ten years. But there are a few indulgences I really enjoyed back then, like crab rangoon, sweet and sour chicken, and of course, General Tso's chicken. So I decided to do a vegan take on takeout and make a General Tso's tofu recipe. I made this recipe in different variations more than ten times, but I'm finally in love with the results!

In case you're curious, there actually was a General Tso (Tso Tsung-t'ang) who lived in the 1800s, and legend claims that this chicken was his favorite dish. Unfortunately, the "original" version wasn't created until the 1950s in Taiwan, by a chef who decided to name his chicken after the general. At that time, the dish was very different. Later, as Chinese chefs moved to New York, they each created their own version of the dish, eventually resulting in the sweet, sour, and spicy version we know today. Here are a couple accounts of how this Chinese-American classic came to be: The Strange Tale of General Tso's Chicken (NPR), Who Was General Tso and Why Are We Eating His Chicken? (Menuism).

General Tso's tofu with rice and broccoli
General Tso's tofu with rice and broccoli

For this recipe, you'll need to make a batch of my crispy fried tofu. You will also need dried red chilis (unless you want a non-spicy version). You can buy Chinese chilis online (although they might take some time to arrive), or your local Asian market may have them. Árbol chiles also work if those are easier to find in your area. With this recipe, you'll get a medium level of heat (which may vary, depending on the specific chilis you use). Feel free to adjust the amount of chilis for a milder or hotter sauce.

This recipe was made for low-sodium soy sauce. Since there's a significant amount of it, you will probably notice a difference in taste if you use regular soy sauce (much saltier) or coconut aminos (sweeter). For that reason, if you want to use either of those, I'd recommend slightly different measurements. For the soy sauce, I'd start with 1 tbsp., adding more to taste if needed. If you're using coconut aminos, you may wish to cut down on the maple syrup a bit (2-3 tbsp., to taste).

General Tso's Tofu in a bowl
General Tso's tofu is a vegan version of one of my favorite takeout meals from my college days.

General Tso's recipes are normally served with steamed broccoli and rice, however, I've found that other vegetables are also delicious with this tofu recipe. I really like to add in bell peppers, sugar snap peas, carrots, mushrooms, and even butternut squash. This recipe makes just enough sauce for the tofu, though, so if you're going to add a lot of vegetables, consider making a half-batch of tofu, or doubling the sauce.

This recipe is best when it's fresh, but if you expect to have leftovers, only put the tofu that you'll eat right away in the sauce. The tofu will stay a little crispier if it's stored without sauce.

General Tso's Tofu

Yield6 servings

Prep Time80 minutes

Cook Time20 minutes

Total Time2 hours

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Prepare a batch of crispy fried tofu and set aside.

  2. In a small bowl or glass, mix cornstarch with low-sodium soy sauce to create a slurry.

  3. In a small mixing bowl, mix vegetable broth, rice wine, rice wine vinegar, hoisin sauce, toasted sesame oil, and maple syrup.

  4. In a large saute pan over medium heat, add 1 tbsp. of oil and cook the garlic, ginger, and chiles, until the garlic is golden brown (about 1 minute).

    garlic, ginger, and chilies in pan
  5. Add the sauce mix to the pan and cook for 1 minute, while stirring. Be sure to add the sauce carefully as it may create steam when it hits the pan. Add the soy sauce cornstarch slurry to the sauce and continue cooking until the sauce has thickened and is bubbly (around 3-4 minutes).

    General Tso's sauce in a pan after it has thickened
  6. Add the tofu to the sauce, and toss to coat. Serve immediately with rice and steamed broccoli, if desired. Top with chopped green onions (scallions).

Notes & Hints

You can buy Chinese chilis online (although they might take some time to arrive), or your local Asian market may have them. Árbol chiles also work if those are easier to find in your area.

If you want to use regular soy sauce or coconut aminos, I'd recommend different measurements. For the soy sauce, start with 1 tbsp., adding more to taste if needed. For coconut aminos, you may wish to cut down on the maple syrup (2-3 tbsp).

This recipe makes just enough sauce for the tofu, so if you're going to add a lot of vegetables, consider making a half-batch of tofu, or doubling the sauce.

This recipe is best when it's fresh, but if you expect to have leftovers, only put the tofu that you'll eat right away in the sauce. The tofu will stay a little crispier if it's stored without sauce.

With this recipe, you'll get a medium level of heat (which may vary, depending on the specific chilis you use). Feel free to adjust the amount of chilis for a milder or hotter sauce.

Nutrition Data

Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe; Calories: 367Fat: 15 g.; Saturated Fat: 2 g.; Cholesterol: 0 mg.; Sodium: 909 mg.; Carbohydrates: 47 g.; Fiber: 2 g.; Sugar: 19 g.; Protein: 10 g.; Vitamin A: 0 mcg. RAE; Vitamin B12: 0 mcg.; Vitamin C: 1 mg.; Vitamin D: 0 mcg.; Calcium: 124 mg.; Iron: 1 mg.; Potassium: 179 mg.; Zinc: 0 mg.

Note: This data should be used only as an estimate. Please see the nutrition section of my terms and conditions for more information on how this data is calculated.

General Tso's tofu in a bowl with chopsticks on the side
StephSunshine

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Steph Sunshine

Hi! I'm Steph, and I love to explore vegan food, health, and of course, the world. I'm sharing my best vegan recipes, and things I've learned and loved from my travels and health journeys.

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