When I started my blog “Vegan in Athens”, as a small contribution to animal rights and veganism, I had decided that I would share Greek and Mediterranean vegan recipes and indeed that’s what I try to do. On the other hand, I could not abstain from writing about recipes that, although not created under the Mediterranean sun, are an important part of our modern (vegan) eating culture. One such example is the vegan Russian salad, for which I wrote about in the previous post, and now the well-known sweet and sour sauce from China for which I am going to write today. In fact I will tell you about my Greek and vegan approach of the sauce, which can be used either as a dipping or pouring-over for a meal or as a sauce which is cooked together with various ingredients such as vegetables and tofu.
Since the ingredients traditionally found in Chinese cuisine are quite different from those found in Greece, I adjusted my recipe in order to create an easy, budget, vegan sweet and sour sauce, mainly made with ingredients that grow locally. So when we are in the mood for something more “exotic” I often stir-fry some fresh vegetables and mushrooms, adding a source of plant protein, such as chickpeas and afterwards I mix with my Greek-Chinese sweet and sour sauce. For this purpose I use local, fresh products that are easy to find and affordable to purchase. Thus instead of using pineapple, I use freshly squeezed orange juice, instead of sesame oil, olive oil and instead of rice vinegar, apple-cider or white vinegar. When I want to keep the recipe sugar-free I like to use agave nectar instead of sugar.
Sweet and sour vegetables and mushrooms are delicious, easy and quick to prepare. Basically you only have to saute the vegetables together with the mushrooms and then add the mixture of the sauce. The addition of corn starch is a trick that is used in order to thicken the sauce without adding large amounts of fat. Another useful little secret to maintain your vegetables crunchy and tasty, is to saute them in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, stirring regularly, for a few minutes (if you have a large wok that’s fantastic, but mine was ruined long time ago and till then it serves as a flower pot). After sauteing, you simply add the sauce and simmer for a while before serving. This delicious dish can be served with rice or noodles.
- 1 large red bell pepper cut into strips
- 1 large orange bell pepper cut into strips
- 2 medium carrots cut into strips
- 1 cup coarsely chopped cabbage (we can use regular white or Chinese cabbage or bok choy)
- 2 cups (250 g) white mushrooms, sliced
- 3 spring onions or 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 piece of ginger about 4 cm peeled and chopped
- 2 cups chickpeas, cooked and drained
- salt and freshly ground pepper
for the sauce
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons vinegar (preferably apple-cider)
- 2 tablespoons agave nectar or other sweetener
- 1/2 cup slightly concentrated tomato juice
- 2 level tablespoons cornflour
- salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Add the olive oil in a large frying pan and saute the vegetables and ginger over medium-high heat, stirring often, for about fifteen minutes or until slightly tender but crunchy. Add the chickpeas, salt and pepper and stir.
2. In a bowl, mix the orange juice, tomato, vinegar and lemon. Add the corn starch and mix well until completely dissolved.
3. Pour sauce mixture to the pan, stir and as soon as it comes to boil reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes, until the sauce thickens. Serve immediately with cooked rice or noodles.