General Tso’s Tofu

“Hello, <redacted Seattle area Chinese restaurant>!

“Hi, can I place an order for delivery?”

“Yes, go ahead…”

“I’d like one order of Genreal Tso but with tofu instead of chicken aaaand …”

“Hold on, hold on. <covers phone> Do we charge more for tofu? *mumbling* Oh, oh, we should. OK. OK. </covers phone> We charge extra for tofu.”

“Really? That’s never happened before.”

“Tofu is very expensive.”

“Tofu is a $1.”

“It’s gone up. It’s very expensive now.”

And so goes the story of how I learned to make Genreal Tso’s Tofu. And for the record, tofu is still a $1.

I love Chinese food. And I especially love General Tso. Which is the least Chinese Chinese food possible. The Chinese were unaware of this “Chinese” dish for quite sometime. It’s a total fraud. But a delicious one.

This recipe is from Martha Stewart, a well known Asian chef. So you can be assured of it’s authenticity. It’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. I originally accidentally typed “crown-pleaser” instead of “crowd-pleaser” but if you are having royalty for dinner, I do think they would like it, too.

Before this, I had never attempted to make General Tso’s Anything. Assuming the $20 for take out was because it was both Very Hard and Very Time Consuming. Guess what? It’s not! At least this recipe isn’t. It’s simple and doable on a weeknight and best of all you know exactly what’s gone into it and what hasn’t. Like organic broccoli. And fresh ginger and garlic. And the fluffiest just made rice. Have I talked you into this yet? Good.

General Tso’s Tofu
(Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Lighter General Tso’s Chicken)

Battered and Fried Tofu

1-14oz container of firm or extra firm tofu, press and diced into large squares
1/2 cup corn startch
oil for frying (about 1/4 inch in pan)
salt and pepper

The Sauce

4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons of minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (or more if you are adventurous)
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/2 cup cold water

The Lieutenants

Brown rice
Broccoli – barely steamed so it’s still crisp


Start your rice. The rest of the recipe probably takes about 30 minutes tops, if making brown rice, you might have some time to kill.

Pre-heat your oil over medium heat until a droplet of water sizzled immediately.

Slice the tofu into half inch thick strips. From there I cut into squares, but any shape works. Mix corn starch with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Take each tofu square and coat in corn starch. Put into oil. It will take about 3-5 minutes on each side depending on how hot your oil is. It could take longer, but your oil is probably too hot if it takes less time!

Do a quick steam of your broccoli making sure it is still crisp and not over done.

Next, let’s make the sauce. Combine 2 tablespoons corn starch with 1/2 cup cold water, whisk together. Add garlic, ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce, red pepper flakes and whisk again. Set aside.

When rice is almost done and tofu has browned, combine tofu and broccoli in sauce pan or wok. Add sauce and stir over medium heat. Sauce will quickly thicken — about 3-5 minutes. Serve on top rice.



  1. Posted October 4, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    That looks good, but I don’t eat tofu or soy sauce. Can you please tell me how to make it with something other than tofu? And is there a soy-free, gluten-free substitute for soy sauce? If I use chicken, how do I know when the chicken is cooked? Will it taste different than if it’s with tofu? Also, I really like the taste of soy sauce so I need the substitute to be really good.

    (P.S. I don’t think Martha Stewart is Asian – I think she’s from New Jersey or New Mexico)

  2. altrooheather
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Hi Heather. Yes! Best, Heather

  3. Posted October 4, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    I think you didn’t read my whole comment. Can you please tell me? I don’t know how to make dinner otherwise.

  4. altrooheather
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Hi again, Heather! I hope you don’t starve! Please, if not this, make sure to eat something. Best, Heather

  5. Posted October 4, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Is that an imaginary conversation you’re having?

    This looks awesome. Like something my kids might even eat. Thanks!

  6. altrooheather
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    It is! Ha ha. Heather and I sometimes laugh at the comments on AllRecipes together. Like an apple pie recipe with a comment on how the commenter is allergic to apples and wonders what else they can use. It amuses us. I suspect it could amuse you too!

    This General Tso can be pretty mild (light on the peppers!) and would be an excellent candidate for kid-approval.

  7. Posted November 30, 2011 at 3:22 am | Permalink

    Ahahahaha! You totally got me. I have had comments like that with my recipes and funny emails like that about my crochet patterns (please make this a knit vest instead of a crochet one and also with sleeves because I want a sweater and not a vest…and can you fix my sweater, too? I have this one sweater with a hole in it).

  8. heather b.
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Seriously. Heather (the other Heather, here) and I have a dream of a Tumblr with recipe comments like that. “I see your recipe for poached salmon, but I don’t like fish and would like a mexican casserole instead. What substitutions should I make?” *head slap*

  9. Posted October 4, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    There are two Heathers, which probably adds to the confusingness of the not-imaginary conversation!

  10. altrooheather
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think anyone should call any Heather a ding bat! Although it is the most amusing of all insults. Deleting!

  11. Posted October 4, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the recipe. This looks like something I could easily make!

  12. altrooheather
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    It is pretty easy! You can fry or bake the tofu without the trouble of breading it too. Makes it even easier!

  13. Posted October 4, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    I laughed as I read “Tofu is very expensive” , ha, I have heard this before too, as a vegetarian I have told very similar things for substituting tofu or veggies for something. I am glad you made this at home, it looks yummy, healthy and cheaper!

  14. altrooheather
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    It seems to be a shared vegetarian experience. My favorite is when you sub a Boca patty for a hamburger and they charge you like $1.50 more. Highway robbery!

    Sorry for the delay in your comment showing up — you went into spam. I’ve fixed it!

  15. Posted October 4, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    This looks so tasty! I too am an avid fan of ‘chinese’ food. I appreciate your sense of humour, and thought this string of comments was highly entertaining :)

  16. altrooheather
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Hope you give it a try!

    Your blog is great! I like how you hold signs! The design is great, too!

    So many exclamation marks! :)

  17. Chris
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Just made this tonight! the tofu is the best I’ve ever made. I subbed flour for corn starch, but it came out delicious. Thanks for the recipe. Peace, Love, and down with Fox News

  18. altrooheather
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Peace, love and down with Fox News right back at ya! I’m glad you liked it! It’s a favorite around here for sure!

  19. Bexka
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Love love love this recipe! Thanks so much. I’ve been craving Chinese food but didn’t want the high cost and bad nutrition. This was the perfect answer. SOOOOOOO yummy! I’ve never used a corn starch coating for the tofu but it made it super crunchy and yummy.

  20. altrooheather
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad you liked it! It’s a total staple ’round here. I hadn’t used corn starch before this either and it is so good. Total surprise! Let’s here it for Martha Stewart!

  21. Dan, the pride of Bancroft
    Posted November 5, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm…this didn’t quite work for me-I think I may have over starched the tofu, because it got crunchy but never turned brown. Also, I think the starch sucked up all the sauce. beware, fryers of tofu.

  22. altrooheather
    Posted November 6, 2010 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Hey Dan the pride of Bancroft! Crunchy is good. If it didn’t brown I’d guess maybe the oil wasn’t hot enough or it needed a long cooking time. I just rolled the tofu in the corn starch once, so just one layer. Did you double up?

    As far as the sauce sucking up — I’m not sure if that’s unusual. It does coat the tofu and the sauce thickens a lot when cooked. If you like a runnier sauce, maybe halve the corn starch in it?

    Onward tofu soldier!

  23. brwnbarbie
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    I just want to say that someone tweeted a link to your blog to me due to me raving over Whole Foods fried tofu and I am absolutely enjoying your blog. This entry particularly cracked me up because it is so annoying to get charged more or the same amount for vegetarian food. Thank you for your blog! I hope that it inspires me to cook more instead of living at Whole Foods’ hot bar. :/

  24. heather b.
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Hey BrwnBarbie! I am a fan of the Whole Foods hot bar as well. That tofu especially — just had some on Sunday! Ha! (I think the recipe here is better, though! But I was lazy.)

    I especially hate it when I’m substituting tofu for chicken and I get charged more! That’s nuts! It’s not in addition to, it’s instead OF. I shake my fist at menus like that!

  25. Lil Cranky
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Permalink


    Tried the recipe from Pinterest and loved it however in the body of the recipe it states 1 tablespoon of corn starch but in the actual directions it states to add in 2 tablespoons of corn starch. Can you clarify? Thanks!

  26. heather b.
    Posted November 18, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Good catch! I haven’t made this is in so long, I don’t remember. Let me make it in the next week or so and I’ll come back and correct that. It’s just to thicken it up some, so maybe start with 1 and add more if necessary?

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