Vegan kung pao tofu



Happy mid winter, friends! Even though it does not snow in this part of the Bay Area, it is still definitely winter. It has been very cold. (For us, that means the temperatures drop in the very low-30s.) Since I started writing this post in mid-January, many holidays already transpired in 2023 — Lunar New Year, Valentine’s Day which was yesterday and Superbowl! (I told the Mr to not get me roses this year. I would rather have wine and champagne which he got me. He is always a sweetie!) When I started writing this post almost 4 Sundays ago, we were about to lose to the Eagles. I stopped watching when the Niners started falling apart in the second quarter. Injuries and penalties after penalties….My heart could not take it. It had been a great season that got me glued on TV with Mr Sweetie or by myself. I watched 3 games in a row by myself one Sunday last December right after online church at noon until 6 pm! I wrapped Christmas presents so I would not feel guilty watching all day. LOL! What to do now that there are no more football games to watch on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays?! I know! Now I can get things done! Ha! Ha! Oh well, until the next season!

I am trying to continue to enjoy the solitude of winter but I am really just ready for spring! Wishing you a cozy changing of the seasons!

Vegan Kung Pao

I love Kung Pao Tofu but I would not order it whenever we get Chinese food delivered because the Mr does not like super-spicy stuff. I decided to learn to make it instead. It was delicious and a big bonus was I could control how much sodium I use in cooking. I have made this twice already. The first time was when I did not have dried chili peppers and with dried chili peppers the second time. Did I already mention that I can eat really spicy?!

I thought that dried chili peppers are the signature ingredient of Chinese Kung Pao takeout. Now I believe that it is the addition of szechuan peppercorns. There are many recipes on the internet that have adapted to more Western-style cooking without using the traditional ingredients such as szechuan peppercorns. This type of peppercorns bring a nice mouth-numbing sensation which is actually a lovely experience for spice-lovers.

Before I share the recipe, Kung Pao Tofu is a dish made with crispy tofu pieces and vegetables seasoned with szechuan powder or peppercorns. The crispy tofu and vegetables are then coated in a sauce mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar, etc then topped with roasted peanuts. The result is a delicious glazed savory-sweet dish of different textures. Please see my notes below for more tips and information about vegan Kung Pao tofu.


For Stirfy

  • 1 pound firm tofu or extra firm tofu
  • 3 tbsp vegetable cooking oil
  • 2 bellpeppers (red and/or green) cut into small pieces
  • ⅛ – 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorn (depending how spicy you want the dish to be!)
  • 3 to 5 dried red chili pepper 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, sliced
  • 2 scallions, white parts only, sliced
  • 1 cup roasted peanuts

Kung Pao Sauce

  • 1 ½ tbsp soy sauce*
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp chopped green onion
  • 2 garlic cloves , finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • salt to taste

To Coat The Tofu Before Frying

  • 3-4 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil for frying (more or less)


  1. Prepare the stirfry sauce by combining all the ingredients above. Set aside.
  2. Drain the tofu. (Please see my Sticky Lemon Tofu post and scroll down to How to Press Tofu section.) After the tofu drains of excess liquid, pat the sides dry with paper towels.
  3. Transfer to a cutting board and cut the tofu into one inch cubes.
  4. Mix the cornstarch and salt in a large bowl.
  5. Coat the tofu pieces in the cornstarch mixture.
  6. Heat a large wok or non-stick pan over high heat. Add oil. Lower heat to medium high once the pan or wok is hot.
  7. Fry the tofu over medium high heat until all sides are golden brown and crisp. You might need to fry the tofu in batches. Set aside when all tofu are fried.
  8. Leave about 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan and add dried chili pepper and Sichuan peppercorn until toasted. (This will take about 10-20 seconds.)
  9. Add bell peppers, ginger and garlic, cooking until bell peppers are still crisp and not soft. Stir fry for about 1-2 minutes then add green onions.
  10. Add tofu cubes to the stirfried veggies.
  11. Slightly stir the kung pao sauce as the cornstarch has settled in the bottom. Pour in the tofu-veggie mixture and mix until tofu cubes are well coated.
  12. Add toasted peanuts and green onion sections. Mix well.
  13. Enjoy over rice.


  1. Traditional recipes of this dish include 1 tbsp of dark soy sauce and 1/2 light soy sauce (instead of my recipe of 1 1/2 soy sauce). Dark soy sauce is very high in sodium so I often use light soy sauce in my cooking. Feel free to adjust the saltiness of this dish by adding salt or using the dark soy sauce/light soy sauce combination.
  2. Toasting the peanuts adds a nice flavor to the dish. However, please watch it like a hawk. Please do not burn the peanuts as I did by taking my eyes off the pan for few seconds! Then use the oil you fried the peanuts in to stir fry the tofu. I have added roasted peanuts straight from the jar without toasting first and it was still good.
  3. Chinkiang or black vinegar is the traditional vinegar used in this dish but rice vinegar is good to use as well.
  4. This dish has a lot of steps and ingredients but it is really very easy to make. This is now a favorite and will make this dish over and over again.
  5. The Asian ingredients such as Chinkiang vinegar and szechuan peppercorns can be found in Asian markets and on the internet.
  6. This dish is vegan/vegetarian friendly.

Did you make Kung Pao Tofu? Please let me know by leaving a comment below.

17 responses to “Vegan kung pao tofu”

    • Thank you! I love your new blog look, by the way. 🙂 I see spring coming but we are in the middle of winter. I am not sure if you have seen it in the news but parts of California have turned into a winter wonderland! 🙂 Not where I live but probably for the best to not drive in the snow. Hope spring is coming your way soon! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you.

        Yes , I saw a picture on one news report. Looks dramatic to say the least.

        Here it is cold and grey and miserable. And occasionally there will be a beautiful sunny day, which will convince us that all is right with the world, for a short while…!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Here as well. We are happy when the sun peeks out on between the storms but honestly, I love cold and grey weather for staying in and being cozy — well, up to some extent! 🙂 Hope that there will be more beautiful sunny days for you soon instead of miserable dark weather.

        Liked by 1 person

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