Spicy Stir-Fried Tofu With Kale and Red Pepper Recipe

Blake Royer

Every cook who seeks out quick meals will almost inevitably come to the stir fry as a go-to technique. It probably begins with fried rice—the infinitely adaptable "recipe" which, provided you use high heat and some restraint with the amount of vegetables, is relatively foolproof—but it only grows from there.

The speed of the cooking process is immensely satisfying, and its effect is the necessity of good cooking habits, like actually preparing every ingredient ahead of time for good mise en place (there's no way you're going to quickly mince some garlic when you only have a ten second window before it's called for).

Kale is an unusual ingredient to see here in this recipe from the New York Times, but it behaves well, keeping its size and texture intact. The sauce hits all the notes—garlic, ginger, sesame oil, rice wine, and soy sauce—and employs the common technique of using cornstarch to give the sauce a luxurious texture. While this was billed as a spicy dish, I would double or triple the amount of serrano pepper next time.

Adapted from New York Times.

Recipe Facts


Active: 10 mins
Total: 20 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 1 bunch kale (about 10 ounces), stemmed, washed, roughly torn, and blanched for 1 minute
  • 1 14-ounce package firm tofu, sliced into about 1/4 inch thick rectangles
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil or canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut in 2-inch julienne
  • 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil


  1. Lay the slices of tofu on paper towels to dry.

  2. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice wine, stock, and cornstarch. In a second bowl, combine the salt, pepper, and sugar.

  3. Preheat a wok or large (12-inch) skillet that's not nonstick until a drop of water evaporates within a second or two when added to the pan. Add the oil and swirl to coat the inside of the pan, then add the tofu. Stir-fry until it begins to color, 1-2 minutes, then add the garlic, ginger, and chile. Continue cooking until fragrant, about 15 seconds more.

  4. Add the red pepper and stir-fry for an additional minute, then add the kale, salt, pepper, and sugar. Toss everything together well, then add the soy sauce mixture and the sesame oil. Cook for an additional 30 seconds, until the sauce just thickens and coats the ingredients. Remove from the heat and serve with rice, noodles, or another kind of grain.