Sounds like a contradiction in terms . . . right?
How can you make Sweet and Sour Pork . . . without the pork?
We have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of one of Gardein’s newest products at our local Whole Foods. (Note to Earth Fare and Harris Teeter – this is another Gardein product that you really need to stock!)
For a better version of Vegan Sweet and Sour Pork, please check out my recipe.
I enhance the flavor of the Gardein Porkless Bites by adding a heaping teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice Powder, which gives the dish a much greater depth of flavor. Five Spice Powder combines sweet, sour, bitter, sour, and spicy flavors and gives you a lot more yin and yang that the two-note sweet and sour sauce in the package. If you are unfamiliar with Five Spice Powder, it usually consists of five (or sometimes six or seven) spices. The Asian Gourmet brand that I happened to have on hand contains cinnamon, star anise, fennel, ginger, clove, and licorice root, but I’ve also used brands that contain Szechuan peppercorns and/or nutmeg. (If you’re looking for an organic brand, Simply Organic makes an excellent Five Spice Powder.)
I doubled the amount of Gardein Sweet and Sour Porkless Bites (you really need two 10.5 ounce packages to feed four hungry people). To coat the pieces easily, I added half of the Five Spice Powder to each package of frozen bites, resealed it and shook to coat. When we tasted the bites hot off the skillet, our reaction was “Wow!” Last night I added the cooked bites a tad too early to the wok with the veggies and sauce, and they lost a bit of their crispy, spicy coating. Next time, I’ll add them right before serving to maintain that delectable outer texture.
My vegetables and sauce preparation are quite different than the recipe on Gardein’s website, too. I looked at several “real” sweet and sour pork recipes – and then came up with my own version.
The next time you have a hankering for Chinese takeout, dust off your wok and make my Vegan Sweet and Sour Pork. You may surprise yourself and not miss the meat!
- 1 cup long grain organic brown rice
- 2-3 tablespoons organic sesame oil, divided use
- ½ large red onion, chopped
- ½ red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
- 1 tsp grated ginger root
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- ¾ sliced shitake mushrooms
- 20 ounce can pineapple chunks in pineapple juice (or a fresh pineapple, which would be even better!)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons organic tamari or shoyu (San-J is my favorite brand)
- 1 tablespoon organic rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon raw local honey
- ¼ teaspoon sirachi (I tried the Ninja Squirrel brand and love it!)
- 1 lb. baby bok choy, sliced
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 packages Gardein Porkless Bites
- 1 heaping teaspoon five spice powder
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
- Make the brown rice in your rice cooker or using your preferred method. (I put mine on before I leave for the gym so that it’s done when I get back.)
- After you prep all your vegetables, heat your wok and add some of the sesame oil. Sauté the red onion, followed by the bell pepper pieces, ginger, garlic and mushrooms.
- While the veggies are cooking, separate out the pineapple chunks from the juice. You should have about 2 cups of pineapple chunks and about 1 cup of pineapple juice. Whisk in the cornstarch, tamari or shoyu, rice wine vinegar, honey, and sirachi to the pineapple juice, and make sure the cornstarch is mixed in well - you don’t want lumps!)
- Add the pineapple chunks to the veggie mixture, and than add the sauce. Turn the heat low and cook until thickened. When it is thickened just right, taste for seasoning, turn off the heat, and cover the wok.
- You’re going to be doing steps 5 and 6 at the same time, so you’ll need two large skillets. (Actually, if you have help in the kitchen, one person can be doing steps 5-6 while you do steps 2-4. Then you’ll really have dinner on the table quickly!) In a separate skillet, heat some oil and toss in the bok choy. Sauté for just a minute or two so it’s still crisp. Add the cooked rice, along with the toasted sesame oil, and sauté briefly until the rice is reheated. Cover.
- Toss the five spice powder with the frozen porkless bites, as you heat the remaining sesame oil in a separate skillet. Saute the porkless bites in the hot oil for about 6 minutes. The aroma from the five spice powder will be incredible.
- Plate some of the rice and bok choy mixture. Top with the veggie sweet and sour mixture, and then add the cooked porkless bites. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve. Yum!
All Rights Reserved.