Also known as Kung Po or Kung Pao Tofu. This is a vegetarian version of a Chinese classic dish, Gong Bao or Kung Po Chicken, a Sichuan dish of stir-fried chicken with chillies and peanuts. I love the chicken original, but I wanted to make a version with tofu, so I looked at a few recipes and this is a kind of synthesis of a few variations.
1 block of firm tofu, drained, dried and cut into cubes
1 red pepper, cut into short batons
1 leek, cut into “horse’s ears” i.e. sliced on the bias
2 chopped cloves of garlic
1 chopped piece of ginger as big as your thumb
some chopped Chinese chives
a handful of roasted peanuts (I use raw peanuts and roast them on a baking sheet in a 160C oven for 10-15 minutes)
a chopped mild red chilli (the long kind shaped like a carrot)
1 tablespoon of Toban Djan chilli bean paste
1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
some ground Sichuan pepper
a splash of toasted sesame oil
about 200 ml of hot water (for a vegetarian version) or chicken stock (if you prefer a non-vegetarian one)
potato flour paste
First you need to deep-fry your tofu cubes, which is why they need to be dry on the outside. I used the deep fat fryer but you could also do this in your wok. Drain the tofu on kitchen roll while you prepare the dish.
First heat up two tablespoons of plain oil (sunflower or groundnut) and sizzle the ginger and garlic for about 30 seconds before adding the chilli bean paste, soy sauce and the red chilli. Fry for a minute or so and add in the leek and red pepper. Then add the water or stock, the Sichuan pepper and the peanuts and tofu cubes. Continue to cook so that the tofu is heated through again and then thicken the dish with the potato flour paste. Stir carefully so as to stop the tofu cubes from breaking up. Then add in the Chives and sesame oil and serve.
I cooked some Thai red jasmine rice to go with this, but you could also serve white rice, which would be more common in China.
I make no claims for the authenticity of this dish, but it certainly tasted pretty good. The crunch of the peanuts against the soft tofu is a really nice thing. It would be nice to hear what a Chinese person thinks of this dish.