What was your favorite thing to scoop up onto a plate at a Chinese buffet as a kid?
Sesame Chicken? Egg Rolls? Crab Ragoons?
Yeah, those are cool and all buuuttt… DO THEY STAND A CHANCE AGAINST THE ALL MIGHTY SWEET & SOUR CHICKEN? NO. NO THEY DON’T.
Oh, woah, sorry. I don’t know what came over me. But he’s right after all, sweet & sour chicken is the bee’s knees of the Chinese buffet. No interjections allowed.
Light & crispy batter caresses juicy, white chicken meat and then it’s doused in a sauce whose base ingredients are pineapple and ketchup, yet it’s as addicting as candy. Younger me would literally only order Sweet & Sour Chicken – extra extra sauce – and pork fried rice as a kid.
I know – how cultured.
To my elation, the quality of Sweet & Sour dishes has remained the same since going vegan. In fact, I live in San Gabriel, CA – LA’s true Chinatown – so you can imagine it’s full of some of the country’s best Chinese eats. Kim & I’s favorite is an all vegan, family-style restaurant called Vege Paradise, and while I always order something different nowadays, their Sweet & Sour Chicken, made from white button mushrooms tossed in sticky sweet and sour sauce along with pineapples & bell peppers, is a dish that blasts my heart into the past.
Oh. My bad, this is starting to sound like one savory love story, but when you live within a four mile radius of three all vegetarian Chinese restaurants, the little boy in you turns into a hoot and a holler.
Let’s dive into the recipe, shall we? You can expect crispy, battered tempeh tossed in… ahh, whatever, you know what to expect, you’ve had sweet & sour chicken before. This is like that, except vegan and all those other fancy terms you know our blog for.
Go Forth & Devour,
Kim & Ryan
30-Minute Sweet & Sour Chick'n (Vegan, Plant Paradox-friendly, Sugar-Free & Grain-Free)
Crispy, tender tempeh meets sticky sweet & sour sauce. Love at first bite.
- 3 oz (1/4 c + 1 tbsp) water
- 3 oz (1/4 c + 1 tbsp) rice vinegar
- 2 oz ketchup (homemade is best)
- 120 g (1/2 c + 2 tbsp) erythritol
- 7 g (2 tsp) arrowroot or tapioca starch
- 8 oz tempeh, cut into thin squares
- 2 tsp rice vinegar
- 2 tsp tamari
- 5 tbsp arrowroot or tapioca starch
- 5 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp flax meal
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp white pepper, ground
- 3/4 c refined coconut oil
- Place tempeh in a large (11-12 in) saute pan and add just enough water to barely cover the tempeh pieces. Stir in tamari and vinegar and place over high heat.
- Bring to a boil and cook until all the water has evaporated. Kill the heat and transfer tempeh to a plate. Clean out saute pan for use in later steps.
- In an airtight container, combine all of the sauce ingredients and shake vigorously to combine.
- Transfer into a small pot and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often. Once a boil is achieved, kill the heat and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together starch, water, flax, baking powder, salt, and white pepper until smooth. Allow to sit for two minutes.
- Place coconut oil in cleaned out saute pan and place over medium heat.
- While oil heats, toss steamed tempeh pieces in batter until thoroughly coated.
- Once oil is hot (after 4-5 minutes), add in half of the tempeh pieces, ensuring that each has its own space. Cook until golden brown, flip, and cook again; about 3 minutes per side.
- Transfer tempeh to a cooling rack inverted onto an upside down cookie sheet with a layer of paper towels in between. The paper towels wick away excess grease without holding it against the tempeh.
- Repeat steps 8 & 9 for second batch. Reheat sauce over medium-low heat while second batch cooks.
- Serve chick’n piping hot with loads of sweet & sour sauce and a side of jasmine rice. Enjoy!