Re-Creating the Panda Express Tofu Eggplant Recipe at Home

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Published: 10/06/2023 | Updated: 03/27/2024

Panda Express tofu eggplant recipe

Who doesn’t love that crispy tofu doused in a sweet and spicy sauce at Panda Express? Guess what? You don’t have to drive all the way to the eatery to satisfy your craving. You can whip up this tasty dish right in your kitchen!

The secret is to make crispy tofu that’s just as good, if not better, than the restaurant’s. And it’s not a complicated process at all. Don’t fret if you’ve never made tofu before; we’ll break it all down for you in easy-to-follow steps. So, let’s jump right into it.

Understanding the Components of the Recipe

Let’s break it down now. This dish is all about that crispy tofu and that killer sweet and spicy sauce.

Essential Equipment for the Recipe

Think you need a bunch of fancy tools to make this dish? Nah, your kitchen basics will do. A good-quality cast iron skillet is the star of our show here. It’s excellent for frying up our tofu to the ideal crisp level. A bowl for mixing the ingredients and a spatula or a pair of tongs to flip the tofu will make the job easier. If you have these, you’re all set to start cooking.

Crucial Elements for the Stir Fry

In a stir-fry, every ingredient counts, but some play a mightier role. Here, that part goes to the eggplant and tofu. You’ll need about ½ cup of tofu cut into cubes and the same amount of eggplants. The key here is to not overcook them. Just a quick stir-fry for about 2 minutes will do. And don’t forget about the spice. A ¼ teaspoon of your favorite hot sauce or chili flakes will keep things exciting.

Key Ingredients for the Delectable Sauce

Sauces can make or break a dish. Here, a perfect blend of soy sauce, ginger, and sweet and spicy elements come together to create a sauce you won’t forget. Trust the recipe card on this one. The measurements are just right to deliver that burst of flavors in every bite. You can always adjust the heat and sweetness to your preference, though.

Step-By-Step Panda Express Tofu Eggplant Recipe

Cooking is a bit like dancing, right? You gotta have rhythm, a sequence, a method to the madness that’ll guide you through the entire process. You follow the steps, keep your focus, and before you know it, you’ve created a masterpiece. Let’s progress like a bunch of pros, step by step, following our recipe card like we’re on some culinary treasure hunt. Are you ready? Aprons on, folks!

Step 1: Preparing the Sauce

Let’s kick things off with the sauce, the soul of this dish. You’ll want to get a medium-sized bowl, gather all your ingredients, and get ready to play mixologist. Combine everything – don’t forget the cornstarch! Stir until the cornstarch is dissolved. You might find water to be a perfectly fine base for the sauce. But, as an alternative, if you want to add a richer flavor, either vegetable or chicken broth can help elevate this dish.

Step 2: Preparing the Tofu

Alrighty, now we move on to our protein star: the tofu. Get yourself some firm tofu, and cut it into 2-inch cubes like you’re building edible Lego blocks. Toss tofu chunks in a medium-sized bowl with some cornstarch. Remember, you’re looking for a light coating here. The goal is to make the tofu crispy on the outside but keep it nice and soft inside.

Step 3: Frying the Tofu

Now get ready for some frying action. Heat up 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet. Keep your heat on medium-high, just right so the tofu doesn’t burn. Fry the tofu chunks on all sides until they turn golden and crispy. Once they’re done, use a slotted spoon to fish them out and let them rest on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the excess oil.

Step 4: Putting Together the Eggplant

Moving on to the eggplant. Give it a chop chop into small chunks, ensuring they’re all similar in size so they cook evenly. With your skillet still hot, crank up the heat a notch and add a bit more vegetable oil if needed. When the oil is hot enough, it’s showtime for the eggplant chunks. Stir fry them for about 3-4 minutes or until they’re sporting a nice golden brown tan on both sides. Once they hit the mark, scoop them out and set aside.

Step 5: Cooking with Red Peppers and Aromatic Spices

Last, but certainly not least, the remaining heroes of our recipe: red peppers and a vibrant mix of garlic, ginger, and some green onions. Toss the red peppers in, let them get a slight char, and bring out their natural sweetness – should take about 3-4 minutes. Then, in goes the minced garlic, ginger, and chopped white parts of the green onion. Lower the heat to medium-low and let them cook until they release their amazing aroma. That’s the smell of a good meal cooking!

Step 6: Sizzling Tofu and Eggplant Stir-Fry: A Flavorful Reunion

Now the magic happens, folks. In goes the tofu and the eggplant that spent some time chillin’ to the side. Time to reunite them with that sizzling skillet. Pour the sauce over them – now watch as it forms a shiny, flavorful coat on the tofu and veggies.

Give it a good stir, and make sure everyone gets to know each other real well in there. Let it get cozy for about 1-2 minutes, or until you see the sauce thicken up just right – not too runny, not too sticky. Last but not least, sprinkle some of that vibrant green onion or cilantro on top. Oh boy, now we’re talking. Dish it up, and you got yourself a feast!

Best Ways to Serve the Dish

Good thing about this tofu eggplant dish is you can dress it up or down however you like. Pile up those sesame seeds, sprinkle some red pepper flakes if you’re into spicy, or just keep it simple with a bit of salt and pepper. Steamed broccoli can make a great companion, adding that nice crunch and green goodness. Or go for white or brown rice, if you want to play safe.

For the noodle lovers, try pairing it with brown rice noodles or chow mein. For a soupier side, try miso soup or some simple noodle soup. It’s all about the mix and match, baby!

Wrapping It Up

And there you have it! We’ve taken that classic Panda Express eggplant tofu dish and made it our own. This recipe ain’t just about good eats, it’s also about having some fun in the kitchen. Crispy tofu, and soft eggplant, all coated with the sauce and crowned with a sprinkle of green onion – it’s a beautiful sight, ain’t it? So go ahead, grab your skillet, and cook up a storm. It’s simpler than you think, and trust me, the taste is out of this world!

 

Panda Express Tofu Eggplant

Explore the delicious world of Panda Express with our Tofu Eggplant recipe! Master the art of combining tender tofu and flavorful eggplant in a savory sauce that's both satisfying and vegetarian-friendly. Bring the bold flavors of Panda Express to your home kitchen for a delightful meatless experience.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Course: Dinner, Healthy, Lunch, Quick & Easy, side dishes
Keyword: Panda Express Tofu Eggplant
Servings: 4
Author: The Endless Appetite

Ingredients

For the Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water or vegetable/chicken broth

For the Tofu:

  • 1/2 cup firm tofu, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (for frying)

For the Stir-Fry:

  • 1/2 cup eggplant, cut into small chunks
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce or chili flakes
  • 1/2 cup red peppers, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 green onions, chopped (white parts for cooking, green parts for garnish)

Optional Garnish:

  • Sesame seeds
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Cilantro

Instructions

Step 1: Preparing the Sauce

  • In a medium-sized bowl, combine all sauce ingredients, including soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, cornstarch, and water/broth. Stir until cornstarch is dissolved.

Step 2: Preparing the Tofu

  • Cut firm tofu into 2-inch cubes. Toss tofu chunks in a medium-sized bowl with cornstarch until lightly coated.

Step 3: Frying the Tofu

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry tofu chunks on all sides until golden and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towels.

Step 4: Putting Together the Eggplant

  • Chop eggplant into small, even-sized chunks. In the same skillet, add more vegetable oil if needed. Stir-fry eggplant for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and set aside.

Step 5: Cooking with Red Peppers and Aromatic Spices

  • Add red peppers to the skillet, stir-frying for 3-4 minutes until slightly charred. Then, add minced garlic, ginger, and chopped white parts of green onions. Cook until aromatic.

Step 6: Sizzling Tofu and Eggplant Stir-Fry

  • Reintroduce the tofu and eggplant to the skillet. Pour the sauce over them, stirring until well-coated. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
  • Garnish with green parts of chopped green onions, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, or cilantro.

Notes

Best Ways to Serve the Dish
  • Serve over steamed broccoli, white or brown rice, or brown rice noodles.
  • Pair with chow mein or miso soup for a delightful meal.

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