This is probably the best Chinese food I’ve ever had. Crispy breaded tofu sautéed with broccoli and a homemade sweet & sour sauce. Serve with some brown rice and it could not be a more delicious meal.
This is based on the idea of General Tso’s Chicken, but as far as the dubious origins of that recipe, I’ll let Wikipedia handle it:
General Tso’s chicken is a sweet deep-fried chicken dish that is served in North American Chinese restaurants. The dish is named after Zuo Zongtang, a Qing dynasty statesman and military leader, although there is no recorded connection to him nor is the dish known in Hunan, Zuo’s home province.
So, it’s not really Chinese and has no connection to General Tso. Cool.
I did some deeper digging into the historical record and was shocked to discover that General Tso was a vegan! He was even one of the founding members of the Qing Dynasty’s chapter of PETA. It’s true (well, as true as the rest of the General Tso story).
Today, we’re going to set the record straight and remake his famous chicken recipe the way he would have liked it – with TOFU! Because he was also a hardcore oil-free, WFPB kind of general, we’ll air-fry (or bake) the tofu with a crispy breading to avoid oil and use all natural ingredients for our delicious sauce that coats the crispy nuggets and broccoli (because Tso was never one to skimp on his cruciferous veggies).
Now, if you are that person who once left a comment on my recipe saying “I clicked because it said One Ingredient and this has nine ingredients!!” (LOL) you should probably turn away now because there are quite a few ingredients here. We’re making a breading and a sauce. And, it’s a two-step process of first cooking the tofu in an air-fryer (or oven), and then sautéing it with the broccoli – but it’s still <30 minutes and your effort will be rewarded...
Makes: 3-4 entree servings
- 16 oz firm tofu
- 1/3 cup cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 green onions
- 2 cups broccoli
- sesame seeds, for garnish
- brown rice, for serving
NOTE: You can either cook the tofu in an air fryer at 370º for 10 minutes, or bake at 370º for about 15 minutes until crispy.
PREP: Make some brown rice, for serving.
Break the tofu into small chicken-like chunks as shown. This is way cooler than just cubing the tofu because it gives you a more authentic look and more surface area for the batter. Then, make a breading from the cornmeal, flour, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Dip each piece of tofu (it should still be moist) into the batter and place in your air fryer (or a baking sheet in the oven). When all the pieces are coated cook at about 370º F until the batter has become really crispy and golden.
While the tofu cooks, turn your attention to the sauce. There are about as many variations of General Tso’s sauce as there are Chinese restaurants in America, but this one sticks with the basics: equal parts soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and maple syrup, with some minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and smoked paprika. Add all of this to a small bowl and stir until well mixed.
When the tofu is crispy, sauté the final dish. In a large pan, add all the sauce along with some broccoli florets (ideally already cooked – frozen and microwaved is great), chopped green onions, and the crispy tofu nuggets. Toss repeatedly until coated and allow to simmer over medium heat (tossing occasionally) for 5-7 minutes until most of the sauce is absorbed and everything is warm and delicious.
Serve with a garnish of sesame seeds and a side of brown rice. Store any leftovers in the fridge for 2-3 days (they are amazing!)