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General Tso’s Tofu with Steamed Broccoli and 5-Spice Brown Rice

When I was a kid, I refused to eat Chinese food. My parents would go to The Green Dragon Chinese Restaurant in the Bronx and they had to bring along food for me to eat. Dad would get fried rice, Mom would get vegetable chow mein and the only thing I would eat was the crunchy, fried noodles. As I got older, I might have learned to like them dunked in Duck Sauce but that, the jello or ice cream and the fortune cookie were the only items I would eat.
My protest, when offered a bite, was that the food looked like so many different things mushed together in glossy, slimy sauces, you couldn’t tell if “something was alive and moving in there.” I held my position until I went away to school in the city. Students are supposed to live on pizza and Chinese food so I figured I had to learn to like it.
There was a restaurant on 2nd Avenue where I learned to love Chinese food and to eat with chopsticks. My favorite dish became General Tso’s Chicken. It was crispy and spicy and came with lots of broccoli and those little red chiles you had to watch out for. They were HOT!
But when I’d order General Tso’s back in the Bronx, I didn’t like it. It was way too sweet no matter which restaurant I’d get it from. It only tasted right to me in Manhattan. Now I’ve gone from living where there’s a Chinese restaurant on every block to none nearby at all. And no one delivers around here! It’s uncivilized if you ask me.
But even if there were places to order from that would deliver the food to my door, no one is making gluten-free and vegan dishes so I had to make my own. The only ingredient that determines whether this dish is gluten-free or not is the tamari.
You can use agave nectar or vegan honey in the sauce. Bee Free Honee is delicious with floral notes of apples. How much hot sauce you use, if any, if up to how hot you like your food. I serve this with brown rice made tastier with some 5-Spice Powder.
The tofu is crispy and flavorful, the sauce is not too sweet and not too spicy, just thick and rich, the way I remember it. Served with crunchy broccoli and 5-Spice Brown Rice, my General Tso’s Tofu is made to order. And no, I don’t deliver. Enjoy!

General Tso’s Tofu with Steamed Broccoli and 5-Spice Brown Rice

For preparing tofu:
1 package extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 Tbs. arrowroot
3 Tbs. gluten-free, low-sodium tamari
1 Tbs. fresh ginger, grated or 1 tsp. ground
1-2 Tbs. canola or peanut oil
For the 5-Spice Brown Rice
2 cups short-grain brown rice
1 tsp. 5-spice powder
For the Steamed Broccoli:
2 large heads of broccoli, cut into florets
Kosher or sea salt
For the Sauce:
1 Tbs. sesame oil
¼ cup gluten-free, low-sodium tamari
1 Tbs. arrowroot
1 Tbs. fresh ginger, grated or 1 tsp. ground
3 Tbs. vegan honey (I used Bee Free Honee) or agave nectar
2 tsp. hot sauce (optional)
1 Tbs. canola oil or peanut oil
4-5 scallions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Sesame seeds, for garnish
Cut the tofu into cubes. In a shallow bowl, combine the arrowroot, tamari and ginger. Whisk until smooth. Add the tofu and toss to coat. Let the tofu marinate for at least half an hour, the longer the better.
While the tofu is marinating, prepare the rice. Rinse the rice with cool water. Add it to a saucepan with 4 cups of water and 1 tsp. 5-spice powder. Stir, cover and cook over medium-high heat. When the water comes to a boil, lower the heat to low and allow the rice to simmer until the liquid is absorbed, about 30-40 minutes. When all the liquid has been absorbed, turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Then uncover and fluff with a fork.
When the rice has finished cooking, heat 1 Tbs. of canola or peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu to the skillet and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Remove the tofu from the skillet and set aside. Remember there is an even number of tofu cubes. If you eat one, someone is going to end up short. Wipe out the skillet because you’re going to use it again.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the broccoli florets and a pinch of salt to the steamer basket. Cover and steam until the broccoli is tender and bright green, about 4-5 minutes.
In a large measuring cup or bowl, combine the sesame oil, tamari, arrowroot, ginger, vegan honey or agave and hot sauce, if using. Whisk until smooth. Set aside. Heat the canola oil or peanut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the scallions and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add the sauce to the skillet and let it cook until it thickens a bit. If it gets too thick, add some water. Add the tofu to the skillet and toss to coat in the sauce and reheat the tofu.
Garnish the tofu with sesame seeds and serve with the steamed broccoli and the 5-spice brown rice.

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18 Responses to General Tso’s Tofu with Steamed Broccoli and 5-Spice Brown Rice

  1. Jo September 13, 2016 at 5:25 am #

    Can I use just plain sugar instead of the agave nectar/v honey?

    • Rhea September 14, 2016 at 1:56 pm #

      Yes, use whatever sweetener you like.

  2. Taml Lee April 6, 2016 at 1:35 am #

    This looks great! How many is it for? 2 or 4 people?

    • Rhea April 14, 2016 at 10:53 pm #

      Most of my recipes feed 2 hungry people or 3 “normal” people. One block of tofu feeds about 2-3 so double it for more.

      • Taml Lee April 14, 2016 at 11:45 pm #

        Thanks for letting me know! I actually made it for 2 with half the recipe. Very nice ?

  3. M Lynn Walker April 4, 2015 at 3:22 am #

    Wonderful! The best General Tso’s I’ve ever had — and easier than the list of ingredients makes it seem. Everything turned out just right and we will definitely have this again. Soon! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Rhea April 4, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

      Hi, I’m so glad you loved it. It’s one of my favorites too. Thank you for writing! <3

  4. Milda January 21, 2015 at 8:22 am #

    Made this for the first time last night. The entire time I was cooking, I kept thinking…oh this isn’t gonna be good (just because I don’t seem able to cook tofu so it tastes good). To my great surprise it was FANTASTIC! Thank you so much for this recipe! It will definitely become a staple in our house!

    • Rhea January 22, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

      Hi Milda, I’m so glad you liked it. Of course you can do it! xoxo

  5. Maunone Tanner December 23, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

    Tried this to impress my Chinese-food junkie — or my Chinese junk food sweetheart. He loved the General Tso’s Tofu, broccoli and rice. I was a little intimidated, but your instructions were terrific — you practically hold my hand. So far, nothing I’ve tried from your blog has failed.

    • Rhea December 24, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

      Hi Maunone, I’m so glad you and your sweetheart liked the dish. Don’t be intimidated. If I can do this, anyone can! 🙂

  6. Rhea Parsons July 28, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    Anonymous, I’m so glad your daughter found it on tumblr (I’m not even sure I post anything there 🙂 and glad you found it too. That’s one of my favorite Chinese dishes to make and I really miss Chinese food. Thank you for letting me know!

  7. Anonymous July 28, 2013 at 9:06 am #

    My meat eating college age daughter found this on tumblr and had to make it! And I, her vegan mom, jumped at the idea. We made it tonight and it was AMAZING!!!! And we’re tough critics. It was absolutely delicious and loved by all. It will be joining the ranks of our rotations. Thanks for a great recipe!

  8. lauren atchison March 6, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

    what brand of tamari do you use?

  9. Amanda February 9, 2013 at 6:54 am #

    This is also happening for me tonight! Yeay – a much better alternative to the pizza I was planning because I couldn’t think of something better! Tofu is marinating right now!

  10. Rhea Parsons February 6, 2013 at 6:10 am #

    Happy Birthday Rebecca!

  11. Rebecca February 1, 2013 at 7:53 am #

    It’s my birthday and I’m making this tonight! Happy birthday to me!!


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