This recipe is sponsored by EZ Tofu Press. All opinions are 100% my own.
The sauce for this tasty bowl of tofu has a fun, gin-soaked twist! Inspired by the sweet heat of Kung Pao Tofu, it’s perfect served over rice, noodles, or quinoa.
Kung Pao-Inspired Tofu with Gin Sauce
Note: This post has been edited for accuracy after I received some helpful, very kind feedback from Tiffany Alexandria of Choochoo-ca-Chew. Thank you for calling me in about my mistake! I hope these edits hit the spot.
This tofu recipe is inspired by one of my favorite takeout dishes: Kung Pao Tofu. This is my home-spun version, using ingredients that are a little bit easier to find at the supermarket. Basically, this is me trying to save money on delivery.
It includes some substitutions and shortcuts to simplify the recipe and uses ingredients that most people can find at a regular grocery store. If you’re looking for something more authentic, this may not be the recipe for you.
Authentic Kung Pao Tofu uses a specific type of pepper that isn’t always easy to find.
Kung Pao Tofu sauce also often includes Shaoxing wine, a Chinese rice wine, but it turns out that gin is actually a good substitute for Shaoxing wine in a pinch. Well, pinch no more, because it’s the star of this sauce recipe!
How to Make Kung Pao-Inspired Tofu
To make this dish, you start with pressed tofu. I press my tofu in my EZ Tofu Press, because it is quick, easy, and get out more water than other methods I’ve tried.
Getting the water out of your tofu gives it a more toothsome texture and sets it up to soak in more of the marinade. The result is flavorful, restaurant-style tofu at home.
Once your tofu is pressed, just marinate it, then stir fry it up with peppers and celery in my gin-soaked sauce (see below for variations, if gin’s not your thing).
Serve topped with peanuts or green onions. If you can’t do peanuts, you can sprinkle on cashews or sunflower seeds to get that same added texture.
About the Gin in this Recipe
If gin is not your thing, you can use Shaoxing wine instead, and if you’re avoiding alcohol, white grape juice or apple juice are both fine to use instead.
Obviously, you’ll get slightly different results with these substitutions, but any way you pour it, you’ll have sticky, sweet, slightly spicy tofu!
You can use any vegan gin you like to make this recipe. I used Tanqueray, because that’s what was in my liquor cabinet.
Different gins have different flavors, but the small amount and high-heat cooking mean that those subtle differences don’t really come through in the finished dish. The gin just adds a little edge to the sauce.
No matter how you choose to make the sauce for this recipe, it’s sure to be a hit! Let’s get cooking!
Kung Pao-Inspired Tofu
For the Tofu Marinade
- 1 block extra firm tofu - cubed
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
For the Gin-Soaked Sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons gin
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil - (You can use peanut oil or regular sesame oil, but toasted sesame oil is the most delicious!)
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce - or more, for a spicier sauce
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
For the Stir Fry
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil - (You can use peanut oil or regular sesame oil instead, if you can't find toasted.)
- 2 bell peppers - chopped
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
- 1 green onion - chopped
Marinate the Tofu
- In a bowl, toss together the tofu, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Set aside.
Make the Sauce
- Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
Make the Stir Fry
- Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet on medium-high, and add the tofu and any marinade left in the bowl. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until it begins to brown a bit.
- Add the bell pepper and celery and cook, stirring, for 3-5 more minutes, until the veggies begin to soften.
- Add the sauce to the pan and keep stirring constantly for a few more minutes until the sauce thickens and is clinging to the tofu and veggies.
- Serve over rice or noodles.