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Kung Pao Tofu

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 30 min
  • Cook Time: 25 min
  • Calories: 427
Kung Pao Tofu

Kung Pao Tofu redefines the term plant-based dinner. With crunchy cashews and lots of veggies doused in a healthy dose of spicy Kung Pao sauce, it’s a vegan dinner that hits the spot.

Kung Pao...Tofu?

Yes! Kung Pao sauce is often served with chicken or beef, but since we are helping Kroger celebrate the release of their Simple Truth plant-based product line, we thought we’d try our hands at a vegan Kung Pao with tofu. And turns out, we might just love it even more than traditional Kung Pao Chicken. Think tofu fried in little sesame oil, doused in spicy Kung Pao sauce and tossed with plenty of veggies.

Ingredients laid out for Kung pan tofu with green onions and bell peppers, soy sauce cashews

What's in Vegan Kung Pao?

This simple tofu stir-fry gets its slightly spicy heat from dried chilies, that can be found in the spice aisle at most stores. We wanted our vegetarian Kung Pao recipe to be easy and also made with easy to find simple ingredients which can all be found at our local Kroger store.

Here’s what’s in our Kung Pao recipe:

Kung Pao Tofu 14
Kung Pao Tofu 15

How to Make Kung Pao Tofu

Skip the take-out wait and try your hand at Kung Pao sauce from scratch. You will save not only money and time, but you also have control over the ingredients, which is what makes this plant-based recipe so great! Making food at home is almost always healthier—you’ll surely use less oil and sodium than a restaurant. Here’s how to make our quick, easy Kung Pao chicken stir-fry:

  1. Prep the tofu. Even extra-firm tofu has a little excess liquid in it, and in order to have the tofu fry up nicely, you’ll want to drain out some of the liquid. Here’s how we do it: remove the tofu brick from the package and place it in a shallow bowl. Set a cutting board on top, and then carefully place a heavy book (like a cookbook) on top of that. After 30 minutes, it should be sufficiently drained and ready to go!
  2. Make the Kung Pao sauce: mix soy sauce, vinegar and sugar in a bowl. (yeah, it’s that simple.)
  3. Cook the tofu until crispy. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, stir-fry the tofu pieces in sesame oil until they're golden brown on all sides and gorgeously crispy!
  4. Stir-fry. Stir-fry the bell peppers until they're a little soft. Then add the scallions, cashews, ginger, garlic, and dried chili peppers. Stir fry all of that for a minute or two, and then stir in the Kung Pao sauce and fried tofu.
  5. Simmer. Let all of the flavors meld over the heat for a few more minutes. The Kung Pao sauce will thicken slightly and really coat the veggies and tofu, which is what you want.
  6. Serve! We love to serve this over steaming bowls of white or brown rice.
Kung pao with fried tofu, green onions and bell peppers in a bowl with rice and chop sticks. vegan and vegetarian kung pao

Tools You’ll Need:

More Plant-Based Goodness!

In need of a few more inspiring vegan recipes? Here’s what we’re cooking this month:

Kung Pao Tofu

Tofu Better Than Chicken?

You’ll have to make this exciting plant-based dish and decide for yourself! When you do, snap a photo of your stir-fried Kung Pao Tofu and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so we can celebrate your cooking victories! Happy eating!

Kung Pao Tofu

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 30 min
  • Cook Time: 25 min
  • Calories: 427

Ingredients

  • 2 blocks (14-16 oz) Extra-firm tofu
  • 4 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 4 tbsp Sesame oil
  • 1 Red bell pepper, cubed
  • 1 Green bell pepper, cubed
  • 1 Bunch green onions, cut into 3" pieces
  • 1 cup Cashews (or peanuts)
  • 1 tbsp Fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 6 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 Whole dried red chili peppers (cut a few in half if you like spice)

Kung Pao Sauce

Method

  1. Place two paper towels on a plate. Put the entire block of tofu (drained from its packaging liquid) onto the paper towels. Place two more paper towels on top of the tofu then place a heavy item on top of it. Not so heavy as to crush the tofu, just heavy enough to squeeze out the liquid. “Drain” the tofu for 30 minutes, changing the paper towels half way through.
  2. Make the Kung Pao sauce: combine soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar in a bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
  3. Once the tofu is done draining, slice it into 1-inch cubes and place them in a large bowl. Sprinkle with cornstarch and gently toss with your hands, until they are all coated.
  4. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil over high heat. Working in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan, stir-fry half of the tofu until all 4 sides are lightly browned. About 15 minutes total. Remove the tofu from the pan, onto a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining tofu.
  5. Once all of the tofu is cooked, use the same skillet to finish the dish. Heat one tablespoon of sesame oil over medium heat. When the pan is hot, stir-fry the bell peppers until they begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the green onions, cashews, ginger, garlic, and dried chili peppers. Stir-fry the vegetables for two minutes before adding the Kung Pao sauce and the fried tofu. Bring everything in the pan to a simmer, and cook until the sauce has thickened— about 2 minutes.
  6. Serve over white or brown rice. Enjoy!

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories 427
  • Protein 20 g
  • Carbohydrates 26 g
  • Total Fat 28 g
  • Dietary Fiber 2 g
  • Cholesterol 0 mg
  • sodium 621 mg
  • Added Sugars 8 g

Kung Pao Tofu

Questions & Reviews

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  • Cara A

    This was so good! I also used one brick of tofu and that was plenty for the two of us (it made 4 large adult servings total, with jasmine rice on the side). I couldn't tell what "dried red chili peppers, cut in half to release their spice" meant exactly. Were we supposed to cut them in half and include the red pepper flakes? Or were we supposed to cut them in half and discard the red pepper flakes? We like our food with some heat, so I decided to throw the red chili pepper shells and flakes into the pan. It was VERY hot, so next time I'll try only using 5 red chili peppers and flakes. The flavor of this dish was awesome though... I'll definitely add it to my regular rotation. Thanks!

    Yay! So glad to hear. We may not have cut them in half...it appears in the photo that we left them whole. I might make not of that! : )

  • Anne

    Great recipe! I only used one brick of tofu and it still worked out great. Highly recommend.

    Perfect! Glad you liked it!