dinner,  gluten free,  lactose free,  vegan

Sweet/sour/spicy tofu in pineapple-sriracha sauce

Asian cuisine is one of my favourites to massacre in the kitchen (with Italian being the close second). Probably there is no single dish that I can make properly, yet I really enjoy cooking in this improvised, Europe-ised and chaotic way. I also have never been to Asia, so my whole idea about the food from this part of the world is based on restaurants located in Europe, which presents a variation far, far from the original. A staple in those places – the sweet and sour chicken – is something that has made it to the collective memory of everybody who ever stepped into one of those pseudo-Asian bars: a orangey starchy sauce, chicken pieces deep fried in a batter and trace amounts of some unidentifiable vegetables. I’ve never been a fan of it (ygh those chewy parts of chicken), but my significant other likes it a lot, so I decided to make a vegan reinterpretation.

One of the first steps were to come up with a sauce without vinegar. The taste of it is too harsh for me, and the smell is not that appealing, too (this prevents me from being a good zero waster as vinegar and baking soda seem to be less-waste remedies for everything cleaning-related). So, the base of the sauce is pineapple puree. Before I succeeded with actually making this dish, I had to cook an emergency meal twice due to pineapple turning out spoiled. Third time I went for a frozen pineapple and I can highly recommend this solution as cheap, more convenient and lacking the mold risk. DO NOT USE CANNED PINEAPPLE. It won’t work.

To adjust spiciness, reduce or increase the amount of sriracha. Personally, I find the version prepared according to the recipe too mild, but I’ve taken into consideration the fact that I’m used to eating very spicy food. This could probably be to spicy for children, and as omitting sriracha completely will make the sauce too sweet, I wouldn’t prepare this for small children at all.

For serving, rice, rice noodles or wheat noodles will work equally nice.

Sweet/sour/spicy tofu in pineapple sauce (3 servings)

250g firm tofu, drained
1 red bell pepper
1/2 zucchini
1 small white onion
125g pineapple, fresh or frozen
1/2 orange
2 tablespoons light soy sauce (tamari or gf soy sauce for gf version)
1 teaspoon sriracha
2 tablespoons potato starch + 1 teaspoon for the sauce
neutral oil (canola, rice, refined coconut)
salt, pepper

Cut the tofu into cubes (2cm) and marinade in 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, couple sprinkles of pepper and salt. Cut the bell pepper, onion and zucchini into small, 1cm cubes. Blend the pineapple, sriracha, juice of 1/2 orange, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of potato starch, adding enough water to create a sauce of consistency similar to yoghurt. Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a large non-stick pan on medium heat. Drain the tofu from marinade if needed (it shouldn’t be necessary – tofu should absorb most of the liquid) and toss in the potato starch. Shake the excess of potato starch from pieces of tofu before placing them in a pan. Fry for about 5 minutes, flipping midway through – the frying time may vary, so check earlier and if the tofu has a golden crust take off the pan. Place the tofu on a plate and set aside. Take another pan or remove the oil and remaining starch from the first one and heat a small amount of oil. Fry the vegetables for 2-3 minutes – they should remain quite firm. Add the tofu and pour over the sauce. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the sauce comes to a boiling point and thickens. Serve immediately with rice or noodles.

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