General Tsofu

Tofu isn't the most appreciated version of the soybean. While it's grown in popularity in recent years, I still find that admissions of use as an ingredient are often met with scowls and negativity, as if I'd just said I fry up fresh litterbox scoopings for dinner. Give tofu a break!

For some, it's simply stomach incompatibility or allergies, but to others, the idea of a meat substitute originating from beans instills horror. But why? Tofu is known to be a great source of protein, and it's true what you've heard; it does absorb the flavor of what you are cooking with it. Plus, one of the biggest benefits I have found is convenience.

This year has been extremely busy for me. I've traveled and worked more in a 6 month period than ever before. Of course, the blog has suffered most (last post in March. What?), but what that also means is that my oh-so-precious kitchen time has been more limited than ever. Insert heartbreak emoji here, and cue tofu mention.

Depending on if you choose to make your own (coming soon!) or buy tofu, it's fairly inexpensive and tends to keep a few weeks in the fridge. I've even seen shelf-stable versions at the Asian market, meaning that unlike meats that require either cooking or freezing within a few days, you can keep tofu on hand for when you need it. I love this, as it spares me from worrying about keeping up with my fridge as much and saves me thaw time when I do get the chance to cook. Bam. (Side note: I'm obviously not the best meal planner.)

My blogging history on tofu hasn't been incredibly extensive, but I have tested out Buffalo Tofu and Tofu Meatballs and dug the results. In the past 6 months, I've used it more and more in Asian-style dishes, at least partially because that Amy's Pad Thai with tofu is one of my favorite frozen dishes on the planet.

I hit the jackpot over at Lucky's Market nearby when they had packages of tofu 2 for $3. I can't buy any meat that cheap! Well, none I would want to ingest anyway. But what to make?

A few minutes of brainstorming later, the idea of breading it worked its way into reality and General Tso's tofu began it's journey from pan to plate. (By the way, due to the loss of a hard drive recently, forgive the lack of many photos on this recipe.)

I mentioned tofu's amazing ability to soak up flavor, and I've found that soy sauce and Worcestershire are very useful on that quest. I tend to pour one or both on tofu while it cooks on the stove, but in this recipe, marinating it for 5 minutes in soy sauce and apple cider vinegar was called for. I took it to the next level and after draining the water from the tofu and cutting slices in it, soaked it in combination of soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, and rice vinegar for about 45 minutes. It was enough time to see the tofu had absorbed the marinade and turned a light brown color.

I do want to point out that I have seen several recipes for tofu where the block is drained more extensively - often in towels with weight pressed on them - but sofar for my needs a soak has been plenty enough.

The next step was to toss the cubed tofu in starch and pan fry it in avocado oil. It's important to heat the oil enough to cook and brown the starch, because too low of heat or too little cooking time will result in a goopy, almost melted texture to the breading. That golden brown look is the indicator that the tofu is done.

I removed the cooked pieces to a paper towel-lined plate to cool while cooking the remaining pieces, only tossing in 5-7 at a time. Too many at once can result in uneven cooking.

In the meantime, I made some quinoa on the side as an alternative to rice, and once the tofu was complete, I made my sauce. It was easy; just a few more ingredients than the marinade. I added tofu, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, cayenne and crushed red pepper, honey, brown sugar,, and water to my pan and heated it over medium-low. In a small bowl, I dissolved about 2 tablespoons of tapioca starch into 1 tablespoon of water, then stirred it into the soy sauce mixture. It thickened after several seconds, and the sauce was ready to serve.

Hot dayum, the tofu was just what I was looking for. Crispy on the outside and a chewier, chicken-like firmness to it. The sauce was beyond easy and very flavorful without being too sweet. The quinoa made a good side, but I also steamed some green beans and those paired nicely, too. Soybean curd is like magic.

I had some leftover, and for that I would recommend not storing in the fridge with the sauce on it because the breading soaked it all up. As with most meals, best when fresh. Still, fried tofu may be my favorite yet. Five stars.

General Tsofu


For the tofu:
1 package firm tofu (14 ounces)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2-3 tablespoons avocado oil
1 cup tapioca starch

For the sauce:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons tapioca starch (or cornstarch)
1 tablespoon water


Open tofu package and drain, then cut block into thirds and then crosswise into slices. Pour soy sauce and vinegars over the top and marinate for 20-30 minutes. Heat avocado oil in frying pan over medium heat. Spread tapioca starch on to a plate, then toss tapioca pieces in it until coated on all sides. Fry a few pieces at a time for 2-3 minutes on each side, until browned. Set aside on paper towel lined plate and continue frying in batches until complete.

To make the sauce, heat soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, water, brown sugar, honey, cayenne powder, and crushed red pepper over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Mix water and tapioca starch in a small bowl, then pour into soy sauce mixture. Stir until sauce thickens, then serve over tofu with quinoa or rice.

adapted from general tso's tofu

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