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Tangsuyuk 탕수육 Vegan Sweet Sour Pork

Tangsuyuk 탕수육 is one of the most popular Korean-Chinese dishes and features crispy “pork,” fresh veggies and pineapple in a sweet and sour sauce.  This was one of my childhood dishes and though it’s not difficult to make, there are several steps involved and must be served right away so in our household, it was more of a special occasion dish.  Traditionally, it features deep fried pork or beef but as you know, I’ve recently made an effort to switch to plant based with my Beginner Vegan ebook.  In the same spirit, I’ve veganized this dish and mine features spiced, meaty seitan (great in any other number of sauces!) with chunks of fresh veggies and pineapple, mingling in a thick and glossy sweet and sour sauce.

The key to making any dish shine are fresh ingredients.  I’ve wrangled in fresh local produce here that I simply stamped out into star shapes with a mini cookie cutter along with a glorious local pineapple that I whipped into juice for the sauce and again, festive stars for the dish itself. The pineapple lends a fruity zing and works to balance the raw apple cider creating a taste that is not too saccharine, only gently sweet with a touch of sour.  The sour edge here can be imparted with apple cider or even fresh lemon.  I typically use whatever I have accessible to me at the moment.

Tangsuyuk 탕수육 Vegan Sweet Sour Pork
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 2 servings
Ingredients
Seitan:
  • ½ c vital wheat gluten
  • 1 tb soy sauce
  • ½ ts each garlic and onion powder
  • 2 tb raw apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tb water
  • 2 tb ketchup
  • 1 tb toasted sesame seed oil
Veggies:
  • 1 c chopped onion
  • ½ c chopped carrot
  • ½ c chopped red bell pepper
  • ½ c chopped pineapple
  • Optional: wood ear mushrooms, cucumbers, apple, Korean zucchini
Slurry:
  • 3 tb cornstarch
  • 3 tb water
Sauce:
  • ⅔ c water or veggie stock
  • ⅔ c fresh pineapple juice
  • 2 tb sugar
  • 2 tb raw apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tb soy sauce
Dipping sauce if desired:
  • 1 tb soy sauce
  • 1 tb water
  • 1 tb raw apple cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. For the seitan, combine the vital wheat gluten (not regular flour), soy sauce, garlic and onion powder, apple cider vinegar, water, ketchup, and toasted sesame seed oil. Do not over mix. Just mix until it gets combined.
  2. Tear off quarter size pieces and flatten. You want them to be pretty even so they cook all the way through without burning on the outside and being gummy on the inside.
  3. To combat this, you can also fry them in batches on a pan low and slow. This ensures that they are cooked while getting crispy. Set aside.
  4. Sauté the onion for just a few minutes before adding in the carrot and bell pepper. The veggies will stew for a bit in the sauce so aim to undercook rather than overcook them. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. You can also add wood ear mushrooms, slices of cucumber, apple or Korean zucchini but again, use what you have available to you.
  6. For the slurry, stir the cornstarch and water together and set aside.
  7. In the pan with the veggies, add water/veggie stock, pineapple juice, sugar, apple cider vinegar, and soy sauce. This is when I like to add the pineapple so that it doesn't break down too much. Bring to a bubble. Stir the slurry again and add it to the sauce. Stir and it will start to thicken.
  8. When your final sauce comes to a bubble, combine it with the seitan (that you can certainly reheat) and serve immediately with rice and the dipping sauce, if desired.

 

My husband’s first taste of tangsuyuk was this vegan version of mine and he was a big fan.  So much so that when he finally did get a taste of the dish made the classic way, he assessed that the two were very comparable if not the vegan version being a bit better.  Perhaps it’s bias or perhaps it’s thanks to fresh, local ingredients and a mock-pork that has great texture and flavor, or that when it’s all dressed up in that unequivocal sweet and sour sauce that’s just so beautifully thick and glossy, it makes the whole dish sing.

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