Also known as General Vee’s Tofu.
Is it unbearable that I keep giving cutesy names to things? Is it so very Rachael Ray? I feel like Anthony Bourdain would shit on me for it. I think he is a brave guy (a lot of journalists won’t even go to the Congo, I admire him for that) but he shits pretty spectacularly on a lot of people. I’ve seen Rachael Ray run mushrooms under the tap to clean them and I had a few choice words, so I’m no angel either. I’m complicated.
I can’t rightly call it General Tso’s Tofu, because I’m sure I made some alterations that are delicious but not necessarily authentic. So, General Vee’s it is!
Recipe Notes: If you press the tofu first, which is ideal, there is some added prep time. Tofu should be pressed for at least 20 minutes, so plan accordingly.
For the tofu:
One block of extra firm sprouted tofu (I buy sprouted because it is the same price as standard tofu in my grocery store; you do you)
An oil with a high smoke point (canola or coconut)
1/3 cup of cornstarch
For the sauce:
Thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/3 cup of chopped green onions
3 cloves of garlic (more if you are a garlic fiend like me)
1 small hot red chili pepper seeded and chopped (there were no red peppers at the grocery store so I used a jalapeno– this is what I mean by “not necessarily authentic”)
4 tablespoons of tamari (or gluten free soy sauce)
a few drops of liquid smoke
4 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
3 generous tablespoons of agave (or sugar or maple syrup)
2 cups of veggie broth (or water, but veggie broth is better, and if you make your own it is healthy and cheap!)
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
1/3 cup of water
Press the tofu:
Drain the tofu and wrap it in a clean dishtowel. Not terrycloth if possible, because it leaves a weird texture. If you go with terrycloth, wrap the tofu in a paper towel first. I’m fussy about texture.
Take the wrapped tofu and place it on a wide plate. Place a flat object (a skillet or small cutting board) on top. Weigh the top, making sure it stays balanced. Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is far too heavy, it might break the tofu. The Joy of Cooking + one paperback Moosewood Cookbook is an ideal weight.
Let the tofu drain for a minimum of twenty minutes. I like forty minutes to an hour. At the halfway point I usually check for breakage and empty the water that has been squeezed out.
When your tofu has been sufficiently pressed, slice it (small pieces are definitely better for frying). An inch square –keep it thin!– is pretty good. Set it aside.
Peel & chop your ginger, chop the onions, garlic, and seed/chop the pepper. Cook in a skillet with more canola oil for about five minutes. Add tamari, liquid smoke, rice vinegar, agave and broth. Reduce heat to medium. While it simmers and makes your apartment smell like heaven, whisk the tablespoon of cornstarch into the cup of water until it is completely mixed (check for lumps). Stir the cornstarch liquid into the sauce. It should thicken very quickly. Keep sauce on low heat while you fry the tofu.
Heat the oil in a deep skillet. Dredge the tofu in the cornstarch, place carefully (oil burns are no fucking joke) in the oil. After three to four minutes on each side, the tofu should be golden brown and crispy. As the tofu comes out of the oil, dump it straight into the sauce. You could throw in some steamed broccoli, some steamed edamame, whatever cooked veggies suit your fancy.
Serve over cooked white rice. I bet this would be great in a lettuce wrap with some shredded carrots and cucumber and kimchi. Oh my god, I need to go make that now.