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: http://mykoreaneats.com/?p=337
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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Cut vegetables into chunks similar to that of tofu pieces, set aside.
- 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.
- In a measuring cup, mix cornstarch and water to make a slush.
- Add the slush to the boiling sauce and stir until it gets thick.
- Next add all the vegetables and cook for about 4 minutes, or long enough for the vegetables to soften but retain crispness.
- Lastly, add the cubed tofu to the sauce and mix well.
- Serve hot with rice and other banchan. Enjoy!