I bought some canned pineapple the other day, and tonight I was determined to eat it with something. I had leftover tofu, rice, and half a red bell pepper in the fridge, so I searched the internet for sweet and sour tofu recipes.
I found and adapted this recipe from Eating Well.
I didn't have very high hopes for this dish, but I was pleasantly surprised. If you are looking for a replica to restaurant-style sweet and sour dishes, this is not it. However, I happily devoured a plateful. It was nice and satisfying but didn't leave me overly full and sluggish. And even better, it was quick and easy to make and helped me clear the fridge of leftovers.
After I started eating, I realized that I forgot one important ingredient in any sweet and sour dish--the sweet part. A lot of the recipes I found called for brown sugar, but it completely slipped my mind. I think the dish turned out sweet enough for my tastes. It picked up some sweetness from the pineapple juice and the corn syrup in the ketchup and pepper paste (pic below). If you like yours sweeter, feel free to add some brown sugar or other sweetener. Sweet and sour dishes usually don't have a lot of spicy heat added to them, but I wanted some kick to mine. If you don't want the heat, omit or limit the amount of pepper paste/sauce and the red pepper flakes. Since I added both, my dish came out pretty spicy.
My husband won't eat tofu, but he was envious of the great smells coming from the kitchen. I'll definitely make this again soon. Maybe I'll make it with shrimp so he can enjoy it as well. I need to increase my knowledge and skill when it comes to Asian cookery, especially Chinese, because short of going to PF Chang's, our options for really good Chinese are slim to none. Also, by eating it at home, I can control the ingredients and make sure it stays relatively healthy.
Sweet and Sour Tofu
1/2 tbs sesame oil
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
1 8-0z can pineapple chunks in juice
1/2-1 tbs white vinegar or rice wine vinegar
1/2-1 tbs ketchup
1-2 tsp soy sauce
1-1 1/2 tbs pepper sauce (I used Sunchang Gochujang, a Korean fermented red pepper paste)
1 cup extra-firm tofu, cubed
1/2-1 red and/or green bell pepper, roughly chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2-1 tsp cornstarch
1-2 tbs cold water
rice for serving (I used leftover jasmine rice)
Heat a medium-size nonstick pan over low heat and add the oil, garlic, and ginger.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the juice from the canned pineapple with the next four ingredients to make the sauce (if you are using sugar, whisk it in as well).
Increase heat of pan to medium-high and add the tofu, bell pepper, salt and pepper. Stir-fry for 3-5 minutes and then add the sauce. Stir to combine and heat until it starts to boil. Add the pineapple chunks. Mix cornstarch with cold water and add to the pan. Let the sauce return to a boil, stir, and then reduce heat. Heat for a couple of more minutes and then serve hot over rice (I added the rice directly to the mixture since I was using leftover rice and don't currently have a microwave).