This is one of those comfort food dishes that you make when a serious takeout craving hits, but you still want to cook at home to save a few calories and dollars.
My General Tso’s tofu is the perfect balance of spicy, sweet, and savory. It is loaded with protein (20+ grams per serving!) and comes together in just 30 minutes!
This recipe is a reader request – thanks Marshette!
Much like Singapore Noodles, I had never actually tried General Tso’s stir fry before. But from what I hear, it’s traditionally lightly battered and fried chicken tossed with a savory-sweet sauce, and cooked with green onion and dried red chilies for heat.
I think I can get on board with that.
To keep my version plant-based, I went with tofu. If you’ve followed this blog for long, you’ve probably seen my favorite way to make tofu taste good.
Well, even though I still love that method, I may love this new method even more (one I adapted from The Kitchn)!
Simply marinate the tofu in a bit of soy sauce, maple syrup, and chili garlic sauce before dredging in cornstarch and pan-frying in a little oil. The result is a flavorful tofu that’s crispy on the outside, tender (not mushy) on the inside, and comes together in about 20 minutes!
This dish gets some serious heat from dried red chilies, which you can find in most traditional and Asian grocery stores. However, if you have trouble locating some, either use fresh red chilies or extra chili garlic sauce.
Whatever you do, don’t skip the heat! That’s what makes this dish balanced and delicious.
I think you guys are going to LOVE this fake-out takeout dish. It’s:
Not too sweet
& Dang delicious
This would make the perfect entrée to make when you’re craving takeout but want to stay in and make it a little healthier! Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t call this “health food.” But it is much lighter than what you’ll find at restaurants. Plus, 20 grams protein per serving!
If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to take a picture and tag it #minimalistbaker on Instagram. We’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!
- 3-4 cups (474-632 g) cooked white or brown rice
- Steamed broccoli
- 12 ounces (340 g) extra-firm tofu
- 3 Tbsp (45 ml) tamari or soy sauce (tamari for gluten-free eaters)
- 1 tsp chili garlic sauce
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) maple syrup
- 4-5 Tbsp (28-35 g) cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp (30 ml) neutral oil (such as grape seed or canola)
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced (~1 heaping Tbsp or 7 g)
- 1 Tbsp (6 g) ginger, minced
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) rice vinegar (or sub white vinegar)
- 1/4 cup (48 g) coconut sugar or maple syrup, plus more to taste (I used 2 Tbsp coconut sugar, 2 Tbsp maple syrup)
- 3 Tbsp (45 ml) tamari or soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) water
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) sesame oil
- 1 bundle green onions, bulbs removed, roughly chopped
- 4-7 dried red chilies (optional for heat, or sub 1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce | more or less to taste)
- optional: Sesame seeds, for garnish
- If serving with rice and broccoli, begin preparing at this time. Otherwise, move onto the next step.
- Wrap tofu in a clean, absorbent towel and set something heavy on top to wick away moisture, such as a cast iron skillet. Let rest for about 10 minutes.
- Prep/chop green onions, garlic, and ginger at this time. Set aside.
- While tofu is pressing, prepare sauce by combining sesame oil, cornstarch, minced garlic, minced ginger, rice vinegar, coconut sugar or maple syrup, tamari or soy sauce, and water in a small mixing bowl and whisk thoroughly to combine. If using coconut sugar, make sure it’s dissolved before proceeding. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed (I left mine as is).
- Heat a large metal or cast iron skillet (mine is 10”) over medium heat. In the meantime, unwrap tofu and cut into even pieces, about 3/4-inch cubes (see photo).
- Add tofu to a shallow mixing bowl (see photo) and top with tamari or soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, sesame oil, and maple syrup. Toss to combine. Let rest 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Use a slotted spoon or fork to transfer tofu to a quart-size or large freezer bag. Add cornstarch 1 Tbsp at a time and toss to coat. Continue adding more cornstarch and tossing until tofu is coated in a gummy, white layer - about 5 Tbsp.
- To the hot skillet, add 2 Tbsp grape seed oil and let warm for 30 seconds. Then use a slotted spoon or fork to add tofu to the pan (leaving any excess cornstarch behind).
- Cook on all sides for 1 minute, or until light golden brown. You don’t want it blackened or burned, as you’ll be cooking it again later with the sauce. Aim for a consistent golden brown crust (see photo). Remove tofu from pan as it’s finished browning. Set aside.
- Return skillet to burner and increase heat to medium-high. Add 1 Tbsp sesame oil, chopped green onions, and dried red chilies. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the sauce and tofu. Cook, stirring frequently, to coat the tofu and vegetables for 1-2 minutes, or until warmed through and the sauce has slightly thickened (see photo).
- Remove pan from heat and add sesame seeds (optional). Toss to coat.
- Serve with rice and steamed broccoli (optional), or other desired sides. Best when fresh, though leftovers keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Reheat on the stovetop or microwave.