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Apr 19, 2010 06:31 PM

kung pao _________ recipes

I had some awesome kung pao tofu at a chinese spot in town, and I'd like to make it at home tomorrow, since I believe I have everything on hand. I looked at the kung pao chicken recipe from Cooks Illustrated, and though it looks good, I'm interested in other suggestions or advice. It's for a date, and I'd like to make it well the first time. Thanks!

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  1. I'd try Fuchsia Dunlop's version. I have not tested this recipe myself, but I think her recipe should be tastier and more authentic than most of what you will find elsewhere.

    Not sure whether you're trying to make a vegetarian version, but if you are, I suggest using wheat gluten (seitan) rather than tofu. If you use tofu, use either baked tofu, or freeze the tofu first, then thaw it and wring it out.

    If you're not used to cooking this style of food, I would give it a try *before* the date if at all possible.

    5 Replies
    1. re: will47

      will47, what does the freeze/thaw do for the tofu? Texture?

      1. re: just_M

        Yeah - gives it a totally different (chewier, more varied) texture, and it absorbs sauces / marinades better. This style is especially great in stews, cut up / crumbled small to approximate a ground meat type texture (mixed with some mushrooms / onions), or battered and fried. Plus it's an easy way to not waste leftover tofu that you're unlikely to use soon. I like to cut it before freezing. Later, thaw it and gently wring out the excess water.

        For this particular type of recipe (gongbao chicken style), I think tofu in general (whether frozen or not) might be a little too absorbant unless you use baked tofu or deep-fry the tofu first.

        1. re: will47

          here's a recipe for kung pao sauce:

          1/4 c dry sherry
          1 T dark soy sauce
          1 T hoisin suace
          1 T sesame oil
          2 tsp. red wine vinager
          1 tsp. Chinese chili sauce
          1/4 tsp crushed Sichuon peppercorns
          keep separate at the ready: 1/4 tsp. salt 1 T cornstarch dissolved in 2 T water.

          Heat 1/2 c peanut oil and 1 c raw shelled peanuts in a small heavy skillet, stirring, till the peanuts start to toast--about 2 minutes. Lift peanuts out and drain on paper toweling. Keep ready in a small bowl.

          Dice bell pepper, onion and protein of choice to 1/2" to 3/4" cubes.

          Mince 1 T. each of gingerroot and garlic

          Heat wok very well and add 1 T peanut oil and roll the wok to distribute. Add raw protein and stir fry about 2 minutes. Remove from wok. Add another 1 T of oil and the ginger and garlic and toss quickly for about 20 seconds. Add vegetables and stir fry about 2 minutes keeping wok heat high by adjusting heat source if necessary. Return protein to wok and add some small dried red chilis, stir fry about 1 to 2 minutes, then pour in sauce ingredients. When the sauce is heated and starting to bubble, add a little of the cornstrach slurry so the sauce lightly glazes the food.

          Serve with hot rice. I find this works well with shrimp, chicken etc; have no experience with tofu, but the sauce is very good.

          p.s. this recipe uses chili sauce or paste (I've used Sriracha or chili-garlic paste to good effect) because without a powerful ventilation system, you can drive everyone from the house gasping and choking if you fry the dry chilis in the hot oil. I have personal experience with this ;-)

          1. re: will47

            Thanks will47, looks like I've got some playing to do :-> Hopefully my carnivores will like this texture more.

        2. re: will47

          My personal preference is fried tofu for Kung Pao Tofu!