I felt like making my vegetarian sweet and sour pork recipe today, but I didn’t have any pineapples on hand. Sweet and sour sauce is very versatile; you can substitute many tart fruits in place of the pineapple, such as oranges, plums or green mangoes. I had a number of sweet oranges on hand, so I used them instead.
The dish turned out to be a big hit. I think it’s important to have at least a few recipes in your repertoire that are easy to modify depending on what you have in your pantry. This particular sauce goes great with chicken as well, so if, like me, you have to cater to both meat eaters and vegetarians, you can make one sauce for two dishes.
1. Info for Orange-Flavored Fried Tofu with Water Chestnuts
- Cook Time: unavailable
- Total Time: unavailable
- Servings: 6
- Calories: unavailable
2. Ingredients for Orange-Flavored Fried Tofu with Water Chestnuts
- 1 (12-ounce) package firm tofu
- 1 small white onion
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced
- 2 cups orange juice, freshly squeezed
- 3/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar, depending on how sweet the oranges are
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon corn syrup
- 1-1/2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 7 tablespoons tapioca starch
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2/3 cup water
- 5 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 10 ounces fresh water chestnuts, boiled, shelled and sliced
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
- In a wok, heat about 2 teaspoons of oil. Add the garlic and onion. As the garlic becomes slightly golden, stir-fry the sliced water chestnuts. When the color is translucent and shiny, season with sea salt. Add about 1/2 cup of orange juice and a teaspoon of brown sugar. Cook for about 3-4 minutes. The water chestnuts should be tender, yet still firm. Transfer to a plate.
- For the orange-flavored sauce: Mix the tapioca starch, soy sauce, remaining brown sugar, ketchup, tomato paste, chili garlic sauce, vinegar, 2/3 cup water and chili garlic sauce. Set aside.
- In the same wok, drizzle about 1 teaspoon of oil. Add the minced fresh ginger and cook for about 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the remaining orange juice. Bring to a boil. Add the tapioca mixture and stir constantly to prevent the starch from sticking to the bottom of the wok. Continuously stir the broth as it will thicken very quickly.
- Add the water chestnuts. Check the texture of the sauce; it should be thick and syrupy. If you find the sauce to be too thick, add 2 to 4 tablespoons of water.
- For the tofu: Drain any liquid from the tofu. Pat dry with a paper towel. Slice the block of tofu into 1-inch thick pieces. Separate the pieces.
- In another pan, heat the remaining oil for about 2 minutes. The key to good fried tofu is to get little bubbles when the tofu is in contact with the oil. Don’t overheat the oil; otherwise the tofu will get too browned and chewy. Just stick to the slightly jumping bubbles. Add the tofu one piece at a time, making sure the tofu pieces don’t touch each other. Lower the heat to medium. Cook for 2 minutes; the tofu will start to pop and increase in volume. Flip each piece and cook about a minute longer. Pick up each tofu piece with wooden chopsticks with as little oil as possible and immediately dip the tofu into the orange-flavored sauce. The tofu will deflate instantly. Repeat until all the tofu pieces are ready. Finish with lime juice, cilantro and black pepper. Toss well.
- Serve on a bed of shredded Chinese cabbage with fried, garlic-flavored steamed brown jasmine rice. Garnish with strips of orange rinds.
- Eat with chopsticks!