Recipe Monday: Slow-Cooked Fruity Sweet and Sour Tofu

Every week Recipe Monday features a brand-new recipe from one of our authors perfect for Meatless Monday.

The slow cooker isn’t usually associated with Chinese food, but I find it’s a great tool to develop a flavorful, well-blended sauce. And it means you can have a delicious meal waiting for you when you get home—no takeout necessary! This tofu dish is a vegan re-creation of a sweet and sour pork dish that I remember my mother making when I was a kid. The tofu gets firm and a little chewy, and the thick sauce is a little sweet and a little sour. Mum’s had loads of veggies in it too, which I recommend adding to the slow cooker at the very end so that they’ll stay crisp. For best time management, cut up your vegetables while the tofu is pressing and store in the fridge until the end of the cooking time. Serve over rice to soak up all the saucy goodness!

Serves 4 to 6

1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

One 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 cup mango and passionfruit juice, or other tropical juice blend
1/2 cup pineapple pieces in juice, undrained
3 tablespoons finely chopped mango, fresh or frozen and thawed
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons brown rice syrup
2 tablespoons agave
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon tamarind paste, or an additional 1 to 2 teaspoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch chile flakes

2 tablespoons arrowroot, or cornstarch

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch-long pieces
2 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch-long pieces
4 ounces green beans, trimmed and halved

  1. Combine cornstarch through the paprika in a large resealable plastic bag and mix until well combined.
  2. Add the tofu cubes and toss to coat.
  3. Heat a thin layer of the oil in the bottom of a large skillet over medium-high heat and fry the tofu about 2 to 3 minutes per side, until all sides are crisp and golden, roughly 10 minutes total.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes through the chile flakes in the slow cooker.
  5. Transfer tofu to the slow cooker, stir into the sauce, cover, set heat to low, and cook for 6 hours, or until the sauce is thickened slightly and the tofu is tender.
  6. Just before serving, dissolve the arrowroot in 2 to 3 tablespoons of water to make a slurry; stir into the sauce to thicken, then turn off the heat.
  7. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, celery, and green beans and sauté for 2 minutes so they become a little soft while retaining some crunch. Add to the slow cooker and stir to distribute through the sauce.
  8. Taste and season with the salt, pepper, and hot sauce as required. Serve garnished with finely chopped spring onion, if desired.

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