Fake Out: General Tso's Tofu

It sure doesn't feel like Spring. It feels more like early summer. Where are the lovely, sunny 50-60 degree days where you still need a jacket because Old Man Winter left a wee bit of chill in the air?  This year, we went straight for the humidity. I feel like Spring 2012 is a fake.  

But, sometimes the fake version is even better than the real version.  Take General Tso's Tofu for example. The real version with chicken is pretty great, but it's not super healthy.

This faux version uses tofu, and while it isn't exactly the same thing, it tastes pretty close.  Toss in some veggies and put over brown rice, and you have a pretty tasty and healthier meal.  I used some red pepper and broccoli rabe (I didn't have broccoli) but you could toss in anything you have on hand.  Try it and let me know what you think...can the fake be just as good as the original?

1 14-16 oz container of cubed extra firm tofu
1 1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons rice wine
1/3 cup water, vegetable stock or chicken stock
1 TBS Thai chili paste (optional)
1 1/2 TBS and 1/2 cup cornstarch
Red pepper flakes (to taste)
1 TBS garlic  powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 large head broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
Peanut oil (for sautéing and frying)
1 bag frozen brown rice
Sesame seeds (for garnish)

To Do:
  • Drain water from tofu and marinate in 1 cup soy sauce for about 5 minutes, then drain again. Let dry on paper towels until most of the moisture is gone.
  • Sauté the ginger and garlic in 1 TBS of sesame oil until tender, then set aside.
  • Mix the remaining 1/4 cup soy sauce, rice wine, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, the remaining TBS of sesame oil, the water or stock and chili paste, then whisk in about 1 1/2 TBS of cornstarch. Stir in the red pepper flakes (to taste), garlic powder and the brown sugar, then set sauce aside so flavors can meld.
  • Add about 2 TBS of peanut oil to a large sauce pan, and lightly sauté the red peppers and broccoli until slightly tender, but still bright in color. Remove the veggies and set aside.  
  • In the same pan, wipe away any excess oil with a paper towel and then stir in the sauce and bring to a boil until thickened, whisking often. You may need to whisk in more water/stock if it feels too thick. Add more seasoning to taste (it may need more sugar or heat, etc.).
  • Meanwhile, beat the egg and toss the tofu cubes in it. Then add about a 1/2 cup of cornstarch to another bowl, and toss the egg-covered tofu in it, so each side is lightly coated.  Shake/brush off any excess starch.
  • In a large pan, heat 1/2 cup of the peanut oil until smoking, then carefully add the tofu.  Stir/turn gently so all sides are browned. Lower the heat a bit if the tofu starts to stick.
  • When the tofu is crisp on the outside and lightly browned, remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.
  • Time to put your bag of frozen brown rice in the microwave  (5 mins to cook)
  • Toss the tofu and veggies into the sauce until heated through.
  • Top rice with the sauce, sprinkle with sesame seeds and enjoy!

Yum. (And that's a real "yum.")