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Sweet and Sour Tempeh

in Entrees

sweet sour tempeh 3

I love Chinese food just as much as the next person.  Unfortunately, my options for eating Chinese food at a restaurant or for picking up take-out after a long day of work are much smaller than they were when I ate meat.  Do not get me wrong.  Many Chinese restaurants offer vegetarian and vegan options.  However, those options are almost always strictly centered around veggies or they contain tofu.  I love my tofu.  But for some reason I do not love it in Chinese food.

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So what is a girl to do?  Why, make one of my favorite Chinese dishes with my favorite meat alternative: tempeh!

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Sweet and Sour Tempeh
Serves 2


2 TB seasoned rice vinegar
2 TB Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or low-sodium soy sauce)
2 TB ketchup
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp brown sugar
8 oz can pineapple chunks in natural juices, drained with juices reserved
olive oil cooking spray
1 8 oz package tempeh, cubed
water, for cooking
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1/4 yellow or white onion, sliced
1 TB cornstarch + 2-3 TB cold water, mixed well
cooked rice, optional


1. Combine vinegar, Aminos, ketchup, ginger, brown sugar, and the juices from the pineapple in a medium bowl.  Whisk until well combined.  Set aside.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Once hot, spray with cooking spray and add tempeh.  Cook the tempeh for approximately 15 minutes- lightly browning each side for about 4 minutes.

3. While the tempeh is cooking, line another skillet with a thin layer of water.  Heat over medium-high heat until very hot.  Once hot, lower the heat to medium and add the peppers and onions.  Cook for approximately 6-8 minutes, or until softened.  Add additional water, as necessary.

4.  Once the pepper and onion mixture is cooked through, lower the heat to medium-low and add the sauce.  Stir in the cornstarch + water mixture.  Simmer for approximately 3 to 5 minutes, or until thickened to your liking.  Add additional corn starch, if necessary.

5. Add the tempeh and pineapple chunks to the pan.  Cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, or until cooked through.

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Serve your Sweet and Sour Tempeh by itself, as I did, or over rice.

sweet sour tempeh

Growing up, I used to think that sweet and sour sauce was gross.  Silly me.  This stuff is so good.  A little bit sweet.  A little bit sour.  And a whole lot of deliciousness.

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And if you think this recipe sounds good, make sure you check out my recipe for vegan Sweet and Sour Meatball Subs.  The sweetness (pun intended) of this sauce just keeps on giving and giving…

{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Kelly @ hidden fruits and veggies March 4, 2014, 6:44 am
    For some strange, magical reason, one of the Chinese restaurants in this small town serves a seitan-like fake meat they make in house and it's amazing. I've learned, however, that many Chinese restaurants use chicken broth when making most if not all of their sauces, so if I stray from my usual restaurant, I often end up with just a place of steamed veggies. Sweet and sour chicken was a favorite of 7-year old, meat eating Kelly and I haven't really ventured back to sweet and sour since -- so this sounds like something I just have to try! For nostalgia's sake.
    • ClnEatingVegGrl March 4, 2014, 6:56 am
      Eating out at Chinese restaurants honestly scares me because of all of the things that chicken broth and fish sauce are snuck into. Maybe that is why I prefer to stick with P.F. Chang's where everything is marked :)
  • meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles March 4, 2014, 7:34 am
    I really need to bite the bullet and start cooking with tempeh. And tofu. I love Chinese food and loved sweet and sour sauce as kid. I miss the boneless spareribs the most from the Chinese menu! meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles recently posted...NNM And Little Changes Lead To Big ResultsMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl March 4, 2014, 1:47 pm
      Yes, you definitely should!! I think tempeh is the tastiest of the meat-free alternatives out there, but that just may be my preference.
  • Amy@Long Drive Journey March 4, 2014, 7:44 am
    Yum, I've never tried tempeh. What I often don't like about meat alternatives is the texture. That is why I just can't do tofu. This looks great though so I may have to give it a try! Amy@Long Drive Journey recently posted...How to Work Out on a BudgetMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl March 4, 2014, 1:47 pm
      I LOVE tempeh. I find the texture MUCH more pleasing than tofu, so you should definitely give it a shot!
  • Ang @ Nutty for Life March 4, 2014, 8:50 am
    I've actually never had tempeh... I wonder if I could trick my brother into eating this. He loves sweet and sour chicken. Ang @ Nutty for Life recently posted...Friends Are Part Of A Healthy Diet, TooMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl March 4, 2014, 1:48 pm
      Ooo you should totally try it!! I'm not sure if you could trick him since the texture is definitely different, but he just may find that he LIKES it!
  • Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat March 4, 2014, 9:56 am
    This dish looks so wonderful Hannah! I've always been a big fan of the sweet and sour flavor and Chinese food in general. Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat recently posted...The Dangers of SittingMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl March 4, 2014, 1:50 pm
      Thank you, Holly!! I cannot believe it took me so long to like sweet and sour sauce! I must have been crazy back in the day ;)
  • Sheena @Paws and Pavement March 4, 2014, 3:40 pm
    That looks very tasty! I used to cook with tofu all the time but got out of the habit but just might have to get back into it. Thanks! Sheena @Paws and Pavement recently posted...Scheduling Sunday 3/2My Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl March 4, 2014, 7:04 pm
      You definitely should! Both tofu and tempeh are fantastic!
  • Becky @ Olives n Wine March 4, 2014, 8:15 pm
    YUM!! Sweet and sour is one of my favorite Chinese food flavors and I am thinking it is most definitely awesome with tempeh! Thanks for making a semi-healthy Chinese food recipe - they're not very common or easy to find :) Becky @ Olives n Wine recently posted...#25 Treat Yourself TuesdayMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl March 5, 2014, 4:27 pm
      They are pretty tough to find, aren't they?? Tempeh is definitely officially SUPER good in Chinese food!
  • Jessie March 4, 2014, 9:08 pm
    Tempeh is a food I've never tried before... which is such a shame because I've seen so many delicious recipes containing it. I'm heading to check out your meatball recipe now. Have a lovely day, Hannah. Jessie recently posted...Pretzel Crisps Review & GiveawayMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl March 5, 2014, 4:33 pm
      Oh you really must give tempeh a try! I love it...even more than tofu!!
  • Louise@FitRadiance March 5, 2014, 8:48 am
    This looks so good! I love tofu, but have never tried tempeh! I'll have to give it a try :)
    • ClnEatingVegGrl March 5, 2014, 4:34 pm
      Ooo...do it!! You just may like it even more than tofu!
  • Alexis @ Hummusapien March 5, 2014, 2:41 pm
    Mmmm this looks perfect! I haven't had tempeh in forever! Love the addition of pineapple for extra sweetness. NOMNOM.
    • ClnEatingVegGrl March 5, 2014, 4:34 pm
      Pineapple is a MUST in this one! I love it :)

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