General Tso's Tofu
Recipe serves 2-3 as depicted.
Cooking and prep time, mostly overlapping, 20-30 minutes.
Pre-prep time, a day!
At least a day before cooking, drain the tofu reasonably thoroughly, give it a bit of a squeeze but no need to go the whole "resting a weight on it for hours" way, then put it in the freezer.
12-24 hours before cooking, remove the tofu from the freezer to defrost. I usually do 24 hours in the fridge. Once it's defrosted, drain it again
The reason for this step is it changes both the texture and moisture of the tofu - freezing while it still has some moisture creates ice crystals which compress parts of the tofu and creates bubbles in other parts, giving it a more fibrous and light texture, and also, upon defrosting, more moisture is driven out. You can make it without doing this step, but it's not as good.
Mix all the sauce ingredients in a bowl. Give it a good stir, and put it in the fridge. Doesn't need to chill for long, while you're prepping everything else is a good amount of time.
If you didn't have konnyaku, start cooking your rice about now.
Start heating your deep-frying oil.
Cut the tofu into approximately 1-inch cubes. Sprinkle soy sauce over them (doesn't have to be evenly). Cover them in cornstarch and deep fry. I find the easiest and least messy way to do this is to put about a tablespoon of cornstarch in the palm of one hand, then with the other hand roll one cube at a time in the handheld cornstarch, refilling as necessary - every other method I've tried tends to result in the cornstarch clumping up. I fry in just an inch of oil in a small pan, in three batches, about 8 minutes per batch, turning it over in the middle, but if you have a proper deep fryer you could do it all in one go. (The shallow pan method leaves you with less used oil to deal with!) It should be crispy when removed from the oil.
15 minutes before you end that process, start cooking the companions! For me that's after the first batch of deep frying, but if you're doing it all in one go then it's at the start.
In a saucepan big enough for your broccoli, heat a half inch of water with a pinch of salt in it, to boiling. Once it's boiling, put the broccoli crowns in, stem side down in so far as you can control it, put a lid on the pan, turn the temperature to a medium simmer, and start an 8 minute timer.
When the 8 minute timer buzzes, put the konnyaku noodles on top of the broccoli, put the lid back on, and start a 5 minute timer.
At this point do the sauce directions below.
When the timer buzzes again, drain out the water, put the margarine into the bottom of the pan, put it on the heat again until melted, stir it around so everything gets a touch of margarine.
Heat the frying pan with olive oil.
Dice the onion, put it in the hot oil, fry until it begins to caramelize.
Pour in the sauce mix that you put in a bowl in the fridge earlier, stir regularly until it begins to thicken (due to the cornstarch).
Mix the fried tofu into the sauce, simmer for about another 2 minutes.
Arrange the broccoli and konnyaku around the rim of a plate. Put the tofu and sauce in the middle.
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