Vegetarian Sweet & Sour Tofu

Along with Korean fried chicken, another food I can never get enough of is tangsuyuk (sweet n sour pork), a popular Korean-Chinese dish that we order way too much at home. For those who are familiar with this dish, it’s part of the Big 3 in Korean-Chinese cuisine (jajangmyeon and jjambbong being the others) and can be delivered to your doorsteps in a matter of minutes (one of the wonderful perks of living in Korea).  However, there’s no denying that it’s probably not the healthiest of food options out there, so I decided to try something different with this recipe. As I am always experimenting with different ingredients and stuff, I just went ahead and substituted the pork with some pan-fried tofu cubes. And I gotta say, the dish is pretty solid considering that it’s full-on vegetarian and super easy to make. Is it better than its meaty counterpart? Of course not. I will always love my thick pieces of crispy, many times chewy fried pieces of pork in a sticky sweet sauce, but it doesn’t hurt scaling back my need for protein in place of something healthier.

For those who want a meaty version, here’s one I did using chicken back in the day:

Korean Vocabulary:
tang-su-yuk 탐수육 - sweet n sour pork
ja-jang-myun 자장면 - noodles in sweet black bean sauce
jjam-bbong 짬뽕 - noodles in spicy broth
du-bu 두부 - tofu
joong-hwa-yori 중화요리 - Korean-Chinese cuisine


 “People eat meat and think they will become as strong as an ox, forgetting that the ox eats grass.”  ~ Pino Caruso 



To remove excess water from the tofu, place on a cutting board (or any hard surface) at an angle for about 20 minutes. Adding weight on the tofu will speed up this process.
Cut up vegetables accordingly, set aside.
With a generous amount of olive oil, pan fry the tofu pieces until golden brown.
Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to remove excess oil.
Canned peaches or pineapples work great with this recipe. Also, make sure not to throw out the syrup as it adds a peachy taste to the sweet n sour sauce. If you’re using the syrup from can, you can lessen the amount of sugar for the recipe.
You’ll need some cornstarch + equal amount water to thicken up the sauce. Note: be sure to mix well to avoid any clumping.
Water, sugar, cider vinegar, soy sauce, and peach syrup for the sauce. Make sure to sample the sauce and adjust accordingly.
As the sauce thickens, add the vegetables and cook for another 4, 5 minutes. The vegetables should not be hard, but rather retain some crispness to them.
Serve with rice to balance out all the sweetness.
Some leftover made for a nice snack later in the day.
Just reminiscing over some past banban (half/half) dishes that I enjoyed in Seoul.



Sweet & Sour Tofu
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cuisine: Korean Fusion
Serves: 2
  • 1 package firm tofu, cubed
  • ½ onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 bell pepper variety, cut into chunks
  • ½ small carrot (optional)
  • ¼ cup pineapple chunks (optional)
  • 1½ cup water
  • ¼ cornstarch + equal amount water
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar (or rice vinegar)
  • 5 tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  1. Remove excess water from tofu by placing on a cutting board or flat surface at an angle. Let sit for at least 20 minutes. When most of the water is released, cut into 1-inch cubes.
  2. On a non-stick frying pan, cook the cubed tofu pieces in a generous amount of olive oil. Cook until each side is golden brown, set aside.
  3. Cut vegetables into chunks similar to that of tofu pieces, set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, add the sauce ingredients into a pot. Bring to a boil for a few minutes and make sure to sample the sauce. Add more sugar (sweet) or vinegar (sour) to suit your taste.
  5. In a measuring cup, mix cornstarch and water to make a slush.
  6. Add the slush to the boiling sauce and stir until it gets thick.
  7. Next add all the vegetables and cook for about 4 minutes, or long enough for the vegetables to soften but retain crispness.
  8. Lastly, add the cubed tofu to the sauce and mix well.
  9. Serve hot with rice and other banchan. Enjoy!



Recent Posts

Comments are closed.