Vegan Sweet and Sour
Having finally achieved a life ambition and learned how to use chopsticks recently (it was at Wagamama with their delicious new vegan menu - I’m completely obsessed with the kare burosu) I’m now trying to use chopsticks as much as possible with everything. So, last week I cooked one of my favourite meals (sweet and sour) with my dad, experimenting with seitan for the first time ever too.
In case you’re wondering, seitan is a vegan wheat-based substitute for meat and has a surprisingly similar texture to that of meat. You can make seitan at home (although it’s a very long, slow process so I haven’t found the motivation to experiment yet), or you can take the much easier option of buying it in a jar from health food stores. Best of all, seitan is packed full of 20g protein per 100g and is relatively low in calories too.
But if you’re not vegan (like my mum and brother) then it’s easy enough to use chicken breasts instead of seitan. I’ve included instructions for cooking both seitan and chicken in the recipe below, so just use whichever you choose!
This sweet and sour recipe is healthy, tasty and cosy - perfect for a winter day. Here’s the recipe...
Ingredients (serves 4-6):
- a drizzle of sesame oil
- 1 white onion, diced
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 2 red peppers, sliced
- 150g mushrooms, sliced
- 200g sugar snaps
- 2 small courgettes, sliced
- head of broccoli, broken into chunks
- 150g baby sweetcorn, chopped into chunks
Sweet and sour sauce (a recipe from The Dinner Lady)
- 400g pineapple chunks in juice
- 600ml water
- 50g caster sugar
- 50ml soy sauce
- 80ml white wine vinegar
- 230g tomato purée
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 40g cornflour, mixed with a little water to make a paste
- noodles of your choice, cooked according to packaging
- per person, 1/2 jar of seitan (100g drained) OR 1 chicken breast
- Prepare the vegetables. Chop the chicken breasts into chunks and drain the seitan. Stir together all ingredients for the sweet and sour sauce apart from the cornflour. Boil a pan of water for cooking the noodles later on.
- Stir fry the onion with a drizzle of sesame oil in a large wok pan for two minutes, then add the carrots. Cook for another two minutes before adding the peppers and the sugar snaps.
- Optional: Add the chunks of chicken to a frying pan and stir fry in a drizzle of sesame oil until golden brown all over.
- Meanwhile, cook the vegetables for a further two minutes then add the mushrooms and courgettes. Cook for another two minutes before adding the broccoli and baby sweetcorn.
- Optional: Add the seitan to a frying pan and stir fry with a drizzle of sesame oil.
- Cook all pans for five minutes and then divide the sauce between the pans, pouring most of the sauce over the vegetables.*
- Add the leftover canned pineapple. Cook for another five minutes, stirring the pans occasionally. Optional: Add the noodles to the pan of boiling water and cook according to packaging (if the noodles have a relatively long cooking time them you may want to do this sooner in the process).
- Once warmed through, stir in the cornflour (divide in similar proportions to the sauce) to thicken the sauce.
- Plate up and enjoy!
* This recipe does make a rather saucy sweet and sour so feel free to half the quantities of sauce, or bulk up on the other ingredients.
I hope you like the look of the recipe! Key thing to note: the recipe is not exact so it’s easy enough to change about the quantities of ingredients (or even change the types of ingredients themselves) without having too much of an effect on the final dish. It’s also really flexible with cooking times so don’t worry if your times are different to my estimates. Good luck if you give it a go! I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it at home.