Full of sweet, salty, spicy, sour, and savory flavor, this Vegan Kung Pao Chicken is completely amazing and easy to make.
- 1-15 oz block (about 450g) frozen and thawed firm tofu (see note 1)
- 2 medium bell peppers, diced
- Half a bunch of green onions, sliced
- 3-4 cloves of garlic (to taste), minced
- 1 inch ginger (to taste), minced
- 3 tbsp dry roasted peanuts (optional, see note 2)
- Cooked rice for serving, if desired
- ¼ cup soy sauce (use GF tamari if needed)
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tbsp hoisin (see note 3)
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or other)
- 1 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder
- ½ tsp - 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns or red pepper flakes, optional
- 2 tbsp soy sauce (use GF tamari if needed)
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp mirin or sherry
- Press Tofu: If using tofu (can use seitan or chickpeas instead), press it for 15 minutes or longer using a store-bought tofu press or a homemade one.
- Marinate Tofu, optional: It’s an optional step, but I find it adds a depth of flavor. I recommend soy sauce, non-alcoholic mirin (chinese cooking wine, sherry will also work), and a little water. Pour it over your freshly pressed tofu and it will soak it up like a sponge in just a few minutes.
- Prep: Cut up your veggies while your tofu is pressing or marinating, and measure out all the ingredients for the sauce. It will make everything go smoother when you start cooking.
- Cook the garlic and ginger: Start your garlic and ginger sauteing in a nonstick pan. You can use oil if you want, or just use a little water. Saute them for a minute over medium high heat until they become fragrant.
- Let’s talk veg: Do you like your veggies a little crunchy still or do you want them totally soft? If the former, wait to add them till later, like a few minutes before you add the tofu. If you want them super soft, add them now and saute them for 3 minutes before the next step.
- Onto the peanuts: Add the peanuts (or almonds/cashews if using nuts) now and saute them with the garlic and ginger for about 3 minutes. If not using any nuts, just add the peppers now and saute for a few minutes.
- Make the vegan kung pao sauce: In the same pot, add your sauce ingredients. Make sure to mix the water with the cornstarch or arrowroot powder BEFORE throwing it in, to minimize lumps. Stir the sauce and heat it till you start to see little bubbles, then turn the heat down to medium until the sauce thickens to a more syrupy consistency.
- Add the tofu: Now add the tofu and stir gently. You can use your utensil to break it up a little if you want to. Let it heat, adjust the flavors if you need to.
- Serve: When it’s done serve up your vegan kung pao with rice or whatever else you like. Sprinkle it with more green onion, chili flakes, and crushed peanuts, if you want.
- Store: Refrigerate leftovers up to 5 days in an airtight container.
- Note 1: If you think you don’t like tofu, I urge you to try the frozen and thaw method I talked about above. Simply freeze it overnight, thaw it completely, and press it for 15 minutes in a cheap tofu press or even cheaper between two cutting boards or plates and a heavy weight on top. However, if you can’t have soy, try one of these options: Make my seitan chicken nuggets and use them straight in the sauce (cut them in half for bite-size), use store-bought seitan, or just use chickpeas instead. Still plenty of protein without getting too fancy.
- Note 2: Instead of peanuts, try cashews, almonds, or sesame seeds, or just leave them out entirely. The dish won’t suffer--it will still be absolutely delicious.
- Note 3: Hoisin is a thick, darkly colored, sweet and salty sauce popular in Chinese cooking. You can usually find it in the Asian or International section of your local supermarket (I’ve even seen it at Target and Walmart). It does usually contain soy, but I have seen nut and gluten-free varieties--just read the ingredients if you have those restrictions. If you don’t want to use hoisin, I’d substitute it with a little more soy sauce and a bit of sweetener like coconut sugar or regular sugar. You could also add a little fennel and some more garlic to mimic those flavors.
- Category: Entree, Dinner
- Method: Stove top
- Cuisine: American, Chinese
Keywords: Vegan, Oil-Free, Can Be Gluten-Free, Can Be Nut-Free, Vegan Kung Pao