Sweet & Sour Lychee “Pork” (素糖醋荔枝肉)

My simplified, plant-based take on the Taiwanese classic: Sweet & Sour Pork (糖醋里肌). Made vegan with crispy baked tofu and sweet, juicy lychee.

The dish is typically made with the addition of pineapple (if any fruit is added), but I prefer using lychee. The bulbs of lychee are like pockets of surprise that burst with sweetness — they really compliment with the flavors of the acidic “sweet & sour” sauce and provide great textural contrast with the crispy tofu.


Twice Frozen & Thawed Tofu — Baked Version

As the name suggests, “Twice Frozen & Thawed Tofu” is a technique that involves freezing tofu completely, thawing it completely, freezing it again, then thawing it completely again (all in its original container). What happens when you freeze the tofu is that the liquid inside the tofu crystallizes and forms large clumps. And when you thaw the tofu, the ice crystals will melt but the space they have taken up will remain there, creating many cracks and tears on the tofu. Doing this process two times simply magnifies its effect.

For this recipe, I chose to tore the tofu into sphere and square-ish shapes. This is to give the chunks tofu that that typical look of traditional sweet & sour pork.

These tofu bites are then coated in cornstarch and baked to have a crispy, golden-brown exterior yet tender, juicy interior. Alternatively, you can fry these tofu bites to get that typical “fried” taste (see notes below for instructions).

Then they are tossed with an ultra-easy sweet & sour sauce along with fresh, sweet lychee that is just the perfect compliment to an acidic sauce.


Sweet & Sour Lychee “Pork”

4 from 4 votes
Recipe by George L. Course: DinnerCuisine: TaiwaneseDifficulty: Easy
Servings

3

servings
Prep time

25

minutes
Cooking time

10

minutes

A plant-based & simplified take on the Taiwanese classic: Sweet & Sour Pork (糖醋里肌). Made vegan with crispy baked tofu and sweet, juicy lychee. Goes perfectly with freshly steamed rice. Video Tutorial Available on my Instagram.

Ingredients

  • 1 block of medium-firm tofu

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)

  • 1/2 cup ketchup

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 2 tablespoons distilled vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 5 fresh lychees, peeled & halved, then cored

  • 1/2 scallion, for topping

Directions

  • Prepare the Tofu. For this recipe, we’re working with twice frozen and thawed tofu. As the name suggests, the tofu has been frozen, thawed, frozen again, and completely thawed again (all within its original container). After the second thaw, use a heavy object or a tofu press to weigh the tofu down for at least 15 minutes, pressing out as much liquid as possible. At the end of the pressing, the height of the tofu should have halved. Using your fingers, pull away chunks of tofu (I think about sphere/square-ish chunks) — the goal is to get them to look naturally torn. Place the tofu chunks in a bowl with cornstarch and carefully toss to evenly coat.
  • Bake the Tofu. Pre-heat the oven to 420 degrees F (215 C). Arrange tofu chunks in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Optional: Drizzle with ~1 tablespoon of olive oil for better color & crispiness. Bake tofu for 20-22 minutes, depending on the size of the chunks, or until crispy & golden-brown.
  • Make the Sauce & Finish. Heat up 1 tablespoon oil in a non-stick pan on medium-heat. Add ketchup, distilled vinegar, sugar, and stir to combine and cook for 1-2 minutes. Taste the sauce and add more sugar (to lower acidity) if necessary, but note that the addition of lychee will bring considerable sweetness. Turn off the heat and add back the crispy tofu along with halved lychees. Toss together & heat through with residual heat for 1 minute. Finish with a sprinkle of scallions. Serve warm with rice.

Notes

  • Frying Option. As opposed to baking, you can also shallow/deep fry the tofu. Heat up a generous amount of oil on medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, fry the tofu pieces until each side becomes golden-brown and crispy. Remove from the oil and drain on a kitchen towel to remove excess grease.

Did you make this recipe? I’d love to see your recreations!

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Twice Frozen & Thawed Tofu — Fried Versions

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