This spicy tofu with peanuts is a quick stir-fry of marinated tofu, scallions, garlic, ginger, peanuts, Sichuan chiles, and a soy-vinegar sauce.

Like many Chinese dishes, the origin of gōng băo chicken (gōng băo jī dīng) is uncertain and controversial. The story that the Chinese like—probably because it flirts with legend—links this recipe to Dīng Băozhēn (1820–1886), who was the governor of Sichuan at the end of the Qing dynasty. He bore the title of Gōngbăo and adored chicken cooked like this, to the point where they ended up baptizing this preparation in his honor. Whether it is true or not, the dish offers the typical Sichuan flavors: there are dried chile—from varieties that are less spicy and larger than Thai chiles—and Sichuan peppercorns, as well as peanuts, black vinegar, and sesame oil. Here is a vegan version of the recipe, with pre-pressed tofu replacing the meat.–Camille Oger

What’s the best tofu to use in this recipe?

In this spicy tofu with peanuts, or any stir-fried tofu recipe, to ensure best results you need a tofu that can withstand the rigors of high heat and being jumbled about in a pan.

What kind of tofu should I buy?

Extra-firm tofu. Not firm. Defintely not silke. You need extra-firm since that has the least moisture content of any packaged tofu and, as a result, is very unlikely to crumble or fall apart during cooking over high heat. You’ll also need to take the extra step of pressing the tofu to remove even more moisture.

How to press tofu

Pressing is a simple step that is exactly what the name implies. You gently exert pressure on the tofu. There are commercial products that can do this for you although what we do is simply line a plate with a couple layers of paper towels, place the tofu on top, then add a few more layers of paper towels and top it with another small plate that’s then weighted by a heavy can, a sturdy skillet, even a couple cookbooks. Let it rest for up to 30 minutes. A small puddle of water may collect on the plate. Discard the paper towels and proceed with your recipe.

Spicy Tofu with Peanuts

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 25 M
  • Serves 3 to 4

Ingredients

Directions

In a large bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients.

In another large bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the sauce.

Cut the tofu into 3/4-inch (18-mm) squares that are 1/4-inch (6-mm) thick. Toss them into the marinade ingredients.

Have a small bowl ready. Heat a wok over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and heat until shimmering, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the peanuts and cook, stirring constantly, until browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon or spider to move them to the prepared bowl, leaving the oil in the wok.

If the wok seems dry, add 1/2 tablespoon oil, then add the chiles and Sichuan peppercorns. Stir-fry until the chiles are a little puffy and the oil is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tofu and its marinade and stir-fry until the tofu is golden and toasted, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the garlic, ginger, and the white parts of the scallions. Toss and stir-fry for 2 minutes more. Pour the sauce into the wok, mix well, and add the peanuts. Cook until the sauce thickens, 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat, garnish with the green scallions, and serve immediately with rice.

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Spicy Tofu with Peanuts Recipe © 2021 Camille Oger. Photo © 2021 Christophe Girard. All rights reserved. All materials used with permission.