A vegan take on the traditional Asian sweet and sour pork using tempeh. Saucy and full of flavour!
The inspiration behind the Sweet and Sour Tempeh
One of my favorite dishes growing up is Sweet and Sour pork. I remember that I used to devour the whole plate of sweet and sour pork with a bowl of warm rice 😀
Since going plant-based, I still often crave this dish but now I use tempeh as a substitute for pork. Tempeh works well here because it has a slightly earthy flavor, chewy texture and soaks up the sauce very well. If you are not a fan of tempeh, you can use tofu for this dish.
What is Tempeh?
Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans, originating from Indonesia. I like to say that tempeh is tofu’s older cousin, considering it has to be fermented for a few days before use. Because of the fermentation process, tempeh has a higher content of protein, fiber and other vitamins. Tempeh also has a nutty, earthy taste and a firmer texture than tofu, making it a good meat substitute.
How to prepare Tempeh?
The most traditional way of preparing tempeh is frying or deep frying and marinating with a savory sauce. This recipe is not a traditional way of preparing tempeh, as it uses tempeh as a substitute for pork. After that, we stir fry the tempeh with fresh veggies like bell pepper and pineapple chunks from a can. Lastly, pour over the sweet and sour sauce to enhance the taste of the dish. The combination of the meaty tempeh, veggies and flavorful sweet and sour sauce brings out the tropical vibes of this dish.
Sweet and Sour sauce
The sauce elevates the tempeh and makes it a flavorful dish, using only 8 ingredients:
- Pineapple juice from a can: adds a sour taste to the dish, you can substitute this with orange juice
- Rice vinegar:
- Tomato paste: adds a depth of tomato flavors
- Agave/ maple syrup: adds a hint of sweetness
- Soy sauce: add the depth savory flavors, you can use tamari for a gluten-free option
- Garlic powder, ginger powder: can substitute with fresh minced garlic and ginger
- Corn starch: to thicken the sauce
If you have tried my recipe, please let me know what you think by leaving me a review on this page or tagging me on Instagram @veggieanh. I would love to see your creations!
Sweet and Sour Tempeh
- 400 g tempeh
- oil for frying or water if you are oil free
- 1 small red or yellow onion or ½ a big onion
- 2 bell peppers
- 1 can pineapple extract the pieces for the stirfry and the juice for the sauce
- 1 stalk green onion optional garnish
- sesame seeds optional garnish
Sweet and Sour sauce
- 60 ml pineapple juice
- 50 ml rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp tomato paste if use ketchup, reduce the amount of syrup to 1 tbsp
- 2 tbsp agave syrup or other sweeteners of choice
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp garlic powder or finely minced fresh garlic
- 1 tsp ginger powder or freshly grated ginger
- 1 tsp corn starch
- Cut the tempeh into bite-sized pieces. I cut into half length-wise, then into thin slices.
- On a pan, add about 1-2 tbsp of cooking oil and spread the oil evenly.
- When the oil is hot, place the tempeh pieces on the pan in one layer. Let them sit until golden brown on one side and flip the pieces to fry on the other side.
- Once both sides are golden, add water to cover half the height of the tempeh pieces and let them steam on low heat until all the water is evaporated. Remove from the pan.
- Cut the onion and bell peppers into thin slices.
- Remove the pineapple from the can, and cut it into bite-sized piecs.
- Make the sweet and sour sauce using pineapple juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce, tomato paste, agave syrup, corn starch, garlic powder and ground ginger. Mix well to combine.
- On a pan (use the same pan that fried the tempeh), add the onion and bell peppers on medium high heat. Stir fry for 2 minutes until softened but still crispy.
- Add in the cooked tempeh pieces and sweet and sour sauce. Lower the heat, mix well until combined and the sauce is thickened to your liking.
- Serve with a bowl of rice or noodles and garnish with optional green onions and sesame seeds.