Healthy Kung Pao Tofu Recipe

I feel fairly comfortable taking on any number of ethnic food categories in the kitchen, but something about Chinese food has left me less than adventurous. Maybe it’s because ordering take-out is so easy? With this vegetarian remake of the classic from Eating Well, I might not be so quickly tempted to reach for the take-out menu–it’s healthy and delicious, and can be cooked in nearly the same amount of time that it takes the delivery man to arrive.

1 14-ounce package extra-firm water-packed tofu, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder, divided (see Shopping Tip)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons oyster-flavored or oyster sauce, (see Shopping Tip)
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
12 ounces broccoli crowns, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces (4 cups)
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons unsalted roasted peanuts
2 teaspoons hot sesame oil, (optional)

1. Pat tofu dry and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Combine with 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder in a medium bowl.

2. Heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu and cook, stirring every 1 to 2 minutes, until golden brown, 7 to 9 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

3. Meanwhile, whisk water, oyster sauce, cornstarch and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder in a small bowl. Add broccoli, yellow and red bell pepper to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

4. Reduce heat to low, add the oyster sauce mixture and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 30 seconds. Return the tofu to the pan along with peanuts and stir to coat with sauce; stir in hot sesame oil (if using).

Shopping tips: Be sure to use “oyster-flavored” sauce (it’s oyster-free) to make this vegetarian; both it and oyster sauce are found in the Asian-food section or at Asian markets. Five-spice powder is a blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns. Look for it in the spice section or with other Asian ingredients.

Nutrition: Makes 4 servings, 1 cup each.

Per serving: 197 calories; 11 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 4g mono unsaturated fat); 0 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrates; 12 g protein; 5 g fiber; 622 mg sodium; 517 mg potassium.

Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (230% daily value), Vitamin A (40% dv), Calcium & Folate (25% dv).

Exchanges: 2 vegetable, 1 plant-based protein, 2 fat.

Carbohydrate servings:

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Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers5 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

Bryna Pizzo
Bryna Pizzo3 years ago

Thank you for the recipe, but I would not want to use oyster sauce.

pam w.
pam w.3 years ago

Did some of you not READ this recipe? Because, instead of complaining that oyster sauce is not might have read THIS in the body of the recipe.....

"Be sure to use “oyster-flavored” sauce (it’s oyster-free) to make this vegetarian; both it and oyster sauce are found in the Asian-food section or at Asian markets."

Barbara Raekson
Barbara R.3 years ago

If you press the tofu before cutting it up, you'll squeeze out a lot of water and it'll absorb the spices a lot better. Just put it between two cutting boards and put something heavy on top. Let it rest like that for a couple of hours, even overnight if you can.

Re Sheryl G: as per recipe, you mix the sauce in step 3, fry the broccoli & other veg in the pan and then add the sauce mix in step 4 just before the end.

Sue H.
sue H.3 years ago

Oh, make sure you get organic non GMO Tofu etc...

Sue H.
sue H.3 years ago

Think I will try this real soon, sounds good and healthy.

Ro H.
Ro H.3 years ago


Anne P.
Anne P.4 years ago

Oyster sauce: not vegetarian!

Heather M
Heather Marv4 years ago

Yum and its almost tea time.

Sheryl Groenenberg

Maybe I am a bit daft, but I am confused on instruction #3. You have mixed the ingredients in a small bowl. Now you are adding Broccoli, etc. To the bowl? To the skillet? Have you poured the contents of the bowl into the skillet? It sounds awesome and I do want to try it, but I need a little clarification on the recipe.