4.5
2 ratings

Kung Pao Tofu Puffs

Even better than kung pao chicken
Photo by Clare Barboza

Tofu puffs are fried cubes of soft tofu that, when cooled, become slightly chewy and spongy. The texture holds up well in this kung pao preparation. You can buy tofu puffs in packages at an Asian market. They can be labeled bean curd puffs, soy puffs, tofu pouches, tofu beignets, tofu soufflé—and likely other terms that are country specific. While making your own tofu puffs (recipe follows) is an extra step, the freshness can make a difference in the final dish. - Hsiao-Ching Chou 

(c)2021 by Hsiao-Ching Chou. Excerpted from Vegetarian Chinese Soul Food by permission of Sasquatch Books. 

Ready in
41 m
25 m
(prepare time)
16 m
(cook time)
4
Servings
2156
Calories Per Serving

Ingredients

For the sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon bean sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 Teaspoons chili sauce
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns (optional)

For the tofu mixture

  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 Cup diced sweet bell peppers (about 1-inch dice)
  • 2 stalks green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 package tofu puffs (about 6 ounces) or 1 batch Tofu Puffs (recipe follows)
  • 1/4 Cup Huang Fei Hong Hot Chilli Pepper Peanuts or roasted unsalted peanuts

For the tofu puffs

  • 1 quart vegetable oil
  • 1 (16-ounce) package soft tofu (not silken)

Directions

For the sauce

Step 1: To make the sauce, in a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons bean sauce, 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger, 2 teaspoons chili sauce, 2 cloves minced garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns. Set aside.

For the tofu mixture

Step 1: To make the tofu mixture, preheat a wok over high heat until wisps of smoke rise from the surface. Add 1 tablespoon vegetab;e oil and heat until it starts to shimmer. Add 1 cup diced sweet bell peppers, and stir for about 1 minute. Add 2 stalks chopped green onion, 6 ounces tofu puffs, and 1/4 cup peanuts, and stir for a few seconds to combine. Add the sauce, and stir-fry thoroughly to distribute. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes to let the sauce meld with the tofu puffs. Serve with rice.

For the tofu puffs

Step 1: In a 2-quart pot or Dutch oven, heat 1 quart oil to 375F.

Step 2: Meanwhile, prepar 1 package soft tofu. Line a plate or small tray with a double layer of paper towels. Remove the tofu from the package, draining the liquid into the sink. Place the tofu on the paper towels. Using another sheet of paper towel, gently dab the surface of the tofu to absorb some of the residual liquid. Place the tofu on a cutting board, with the long edge facing you.

Step 3: Cut the tofu in half crosswise as if you were creating a layer cake. Next, imagine there’s an outline of an ice cube tray on the tofu and make one cut down the center of the tofu lengthwise. Then, make four cuts crosswise. You will end up with 16 pieces of tofu.

Step 4: Using a candy thermometer, check the temperature of the oil. When it has reached 375F, you are ready to fry. Line a plate with paper towels. Using a heatproof slotted spoon or skimmer, gently place as many pieces of tofu as will fit in your pot without crowding. The tofu pieces will need room to float. Let fry until golden brown on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Repeat the process with the remaining tofu cubes. Use right away, or let cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.