I had some friends over on Friday – one who wanted to taste some vegan cooking, one who lived with me for over a year and is a pretty good cook himself and one who always eats what I make, with the happiest face ever (kisses to Sina, who took this somehow unflattering picture of me making face-gymnastics).
I don’t know anything more fulfilling than cooking for friends or family… probably, having Asian food with friends or family. There is just something about the Asian food culture which makes you feel warm and welcome. Sitting around a table, everyone has his own little rice bowl and sharing everything else in the middle is so homely and makes you feel a lot closer to everyone at the table, than each having his own separate plate and sometimes (especially when eating out) everyone eats something different without sharing the diversity of tastes with each other.
But enough of the sweet talk – let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: The veganized recipe for Kung Pao chicken was so delicious, I knew from the first bite that I need to share it.
Kung Pao Tofu
yields 4 portions
(And I made 2 variants: one with garlic, one without – you read right: there are people who do not like Tofu… I would have never believed it myself)
- 2 blocks tofu (extra firm)
- 3/4 cup soy sauce
- 1.5 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1.5 Tbsp sesame or peanut oil
- 1 Tbsp ginger (grated finely)
- 3 cloves garlic (pressed)
- olive oil for frying
- 1 small fresh chili or 1 tsp chili flakes
- 2 or 3 multi-colored bell peppers (green, red, yellow)
- 1 cup peanuts
- 3 T rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup agave syrup
- 1 tsp arrowroot powder (or starch of choice)
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil *optional
- scallions as topping
First you need to wrap your tofu 2 hours earlier! You need a clean towel for that and wrap both blocks as firmly as you can and let them sit in the fridge for 2 hours. This will press some liquid out of the tofu and make it even firmer than it already is.
Cut the Tofu in cubes afterwards and mix all ingredients from soy sauce to garlic in a huge bowl. Add the tofu and mix until everything is covered with the marinade. Let it soak for around 1 hour, mixing in between.
In a large pan (I prefer to use my Wok for all these steps) heat 1 – 2 Tbsp olive oil and fry the chili, bell pepper (cut into cubes) and peanuts until slightly browned. Set aside. Add a little more oil and fry the drained tofu cubes until golden from all sides. Mix ingredients from rice vinegar to sesame oil and add to tofu cubes as well as the peanut bell pepper mix. Cook until the sauce is thickened. You can serve this directly or prepare and heat up when your guests are arriving (that’s what I did).
Sprinkle with scallions, serve with warm rice and some quick-steamed greens and you got yourself some happy eaters!
I also made a quick and easy vegan dessert. But I’ll save the recipe for another post. Just a quick glance: