Vegan General Tso’s Tempeh
This healthier, vegan General Tso’s Tempeh features chunks of crispy fried tempeh, all drenched in that deliciously sweet, tangy and slightly spicy sauce we all love so much.
Man, do I ever love me a good General Tso’s… Anything! I mean typically, General Tso’s is supposed to be made with chicken, right? But honestly, I think that the sweet and sticky and tangy and slightly spicy sauce that makes the dish what it is goes well with just about everything: tempeh, cauliflower, mushrooms, tofu, TVP, name it! If I had my way, I’d have a recipe for each and every one of those options on the blog! But hey, there’s plenty of other dishes worth exploring too, so this might have to wait a bit…
For now, let’s go with tempeh! While nothing will ever perform exactly like chicken, tempeh is a very decent “replacement”, me finds. Once deep-fried, it gets all nice and crispy on the outside and keeps a soft, slightly chewy and tender interior.
Cuz yeah… typically, General Tso’s is supposed to be deep fried, to make those sauce-drenched morsels of food all nice and golden and crispy. While I do tend to agree with that concept, I often find that I’m not really in the mood for deep frying, or that I don’t really have time for all the fuss… With that in mind, I’m giving you the option here: to fry or not to fry. For the blog post, I went all out and took the deep-fried route, but say you were in a pinch, or simply preferred to pass on the deep frying, you could just as well take a short-cut and skip that entire deep-frying section.
Although I must admit that if you forego the deep-frying, your tempeh nuggets won’t be getting that nice, yummy, crispy exterior shell; so if time and mood permit, I say you should totally go for it.
Whether you are going to fry your tempeh or not, you need to first cut your blocks of tempeh into bite-size pieces and then place those into a steaming basket, over a few inches of boiling water.
Put the lid on and then steam the tempeh for 10 minutes…
While the tempeh is taking a nice steam bath, combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a small saucepan and bring that to a boil, whisking from time to time. As soon as the sauce starts to boil, kill the heat and set that aside.
If you’re not going to fry your tempeh, you can skip these next steps altogether and simply toss the cubes directly into the sauce after they’re done steaming. You’ll then want to let it simmer for a few minutes to give that sauce a chance to thicken, and you’ll be good to serve…
Now, if you are going to go all out and fry your tempeh, combine some tapioca flour, Chinese five spice, salt and ground white pepper in a large mixing bowl. Mix to combine and then throw in the pieces of steamed tempeh.
Toss delicately until each piece is lightly coated with the spiced starch mixture, shaking off any excess.
To fry the tempeh, heat a few inches of [your favorite] oil in a large wok or deep frying pan, until it registers about 340ºF. Fry the pieces of tempeh in batches, until they’re crispy and golden brown, about 3 minutes.
Once all the tempeh has been fried, carefully transfer all the hot oil into a heat proof container (such as a large pyrex bowl or measuring cup) and return the tempeh to the wok or pan.
Pour in the sauce, stir well and bring to a quick simmer, then kill the heat.
Your yummy vegan General Tso’s Tempeh is now ready to be served. You can garnish it with a little bit of chopped cilantro or green onions, a pinch of sesame seeds and more chili pepper flakes, if you like it hot!
Me, I chose to serve mine with a side of cooked jasmine rice and steamed broccoli, but feel free to go with your own favorite sides!
General Tso's Tempeh
For the sauce
- Cooked jasmine rice
- Steamed broccoli
- Cut the tempeh into bite size chunks and steam it for 10 minutes.
- While this is happening, combine the ingredients for the sauce in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking from time to time, then kill the heat and set aside.
- If you want to fry your tempeh (if not, see note*), combine the tapioca flour, Chinese five spice, salt and ground white pepper in a large mixing bowl. Mix to combine and then throw in the pieces of steamed tempeh. Toss delicately until each piece is lightly coated with the spiced starch mixture, shaking off any excess.
- Heat a few inches of oil in a large wok or deep frying pan until it registers about 340º. Fry the pieces of tempeh in batches, until crispy and golden brown, about 3 minutes.
- Once all the tempeh has been fried, carefully transfer all the hot oil into a heat proof container (such as a large pyrex bowl or measuring cup) and return the tempeh to the wok or pan.
- Pour in the sauce, bring to a simmer, then kill the heat.
- Serve with cooked jasmine rice and steamed broccoli, or your own favorite sides.