Vegan Chinese recipes – sweet and sour

This recipe is a firm favourite.

As well as the taste, it is easy to make and all the ingredients easy to obtain. To make it even quicker, or if you like cashews, omit the tofu and replace with cashew nuts. Add them when you add the red pepper to the pan.

Two ingredients usually used in sweet and sour are sugar (sweet) and vinegar (sour), but both are a bit harsh. So in this recipe we cut back on vinegar and add in tomatoes to enhance the sour element. Fresh or tinned tomatoes work well.  For the sweet element use agave nectar or Sweet Freedom, they are more mellow. And of course pineapple: hot pineapple tastes so good, avoid tinned and use fresh pineapple if you can.

This recipe is the third in our Vegan Chinese recipe series.

firm tofu

Firm tofu

Sweet and Sour Tofu and Veg

4 tbsp vegetable oil
7 oz (160g) onion, sliced
9 oz (250g) carrot, sliced into batons
4 oz (120g) red pepper, cut into strips
12 oz (340g) courgette, cut into strips
1 lb (450g) tofu, diced
14 oz (400g) tomatoes, chopped
9 oz (260g) fresh pineapple, diced
2½ flat tablespoons cornflour
4 tablespoons soya sauce
4 teaspoons vinegar
1 teaspoon agave
½ bunch spring onions, cut into strips

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan and fry onion and carrots at a low-medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add red pepper and cook until the carrots start to soften, about 10 minutes. Add courgette and cook for a further 10 minutes.
2. In a separate frying pan, add a little oil and add the tofu cubes. Let them cook for a few minutes before flipping (when you initially add the tofu it usually sticks to the pan, but if you leave it for a few minutes, it will release and is easier to flip). Cook until the tofu goes golden and set aside.
3. Add tomatoes and pineapple and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile dissolve cornflour in soya sauce, vinegar and agave nectar. Stir well just before adding in the pan in step 5.
5. Add cornflour mixture, tofu and spring onions to the pan and gently bring to the boil.
6. Simmer for a couple of minutes, adjust the seasonings and serve. Serves six.


  • For best results use tamari soya sauce.
  • At the café night we replaced some of the courgette and carrot with beansprouts and bamboo shoots.
  • Tempeh also tastes fantastic in sweet and sour and can replace the tofu. Cut the tempeh into cubes and brown it off separately in a frying pan with a little oil, then add to the sweet and sour at the same time you would have added the tofu.


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