Spicy Tofu with Peanuts

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

A black dish filled with spicy tofu with peanuts.

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. Definitely not silken. You need extra-firm since it 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
Print RecipeBuy the The Complete Tofu Cookbook cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Ingredients

  • For the marinade
  • For the sauce
  • For the tofu

Directions

Make the marinade

In a large bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients.

Make the sauce

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

Prepare the tofu

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.

Print RecipeBuy the The Complete Tofu Cookbook cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Recipe Testers' Reviews

This tofu dish is just the kind of spicy flavor bomb that I love! And it could not be quicker to put together and stir fry. I was able to get the whole peppercorns easily through Amazon for next day delivery. This definitely kicked the heat up a notch from using the ground ones. 1 teaspoon was enough for me.

Loved the addition of the roasted peanuts, which got nice and toasty when they were sauteed briefly. My only criticism is that my dish didn't look as saucy as the photograph, and I like a little bit of extra sauce so that it can sop into some rice. I might increase the sauce ingredients by 1.5 or 2 times next time just to get a little more of that. But other than that, my husband and I were quite happy. When we were cooking the dish, we did have some sneeze attacks, but eating it was hot without being punishing. We will definitely put this on a week day rotation for the future.

This recipe for gōngbǎo dòufu is a good one and can give you great results if you prep ahead and watch your timing. The timing will depend a lot upon your pan or wok and your cooktop. I use a wok over a high heat burner, so the cooking times were all much shorter for me than what is written in the recipe, but I am accustomed to that, so it wasn't a problem. My recommendation to the cook is to stir constantly, keep a close eye on the food, and go with your sensory cues rather than a set timing. Do that, and you'll be rewarded with a delicious dish.

Because the dish does cook very quickly, having your ingredients all prepped in advance is also key. I like to put them in small bowls, combining any ingredients that go in at the same time (for example, in this recipe, the garlic, ginger, and white part of scallions are all added together, so they go in one bowl). I then like to line the prep bowls up next to the wok in the order in which the ingredients will be added. So, in the heat of the cooking, I just grab the next bowl in line. Do this, and trust your own eyes and nose, and you can produce a perfect stir-fry. This delicious hot-and-numbing combo is a great place to start.

HUNGRY FOR MORE?

#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Attach it below. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

Rate this recipe!

Have you tried this recipe? Let us know what you think.

Upload a picture of your dish