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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Try tofu with sweet, sour sauce

By Carol Devenot

 •  Oats overflowing with benefits

Make a more healthful sweet- and-sour dish by using tofu instead of pork.

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One of the most popular Chinese dishes in the Islands is sweet-and-sour pork. But if you're trying to use more plant foods in your diet, consider making sweet-sour tofu instead.

I think this one is a winner not too sweet, not too sour, just right. I laugh every time I watch comedian Rap Reiplinger's "Auntie Marialani's Cooking Show." When "testing" the wine, she would say, "Not too sweet, not too rancid, but just right!"

The secret of a sweet-and-sour stir-fry is in the sauce: My mom used cider vinegar and dark-brown sugar to get the right balance. The ketchup-shoyu combination I use here gives the sauce richness and color. And I like the mochiko, or sweet-rice flour, for a thickener because it has a smoother texture and seems to match, too.

I recommend making your own sauce as I've outlined below, but if you're having a lazy day, you can always go buy bottled sauce. There is a variety of brands; try a different one each time you make this recipe and see how they compare.

Recently, I bought some vegetarian citrus spareribs at C & C Vegetarian Foods Inc. and made the sweet and sour sauce below with the brown rice syrup. It was great although higher in fat content (9 grams) than the extra-firm silken tofu (.05 grams).


  • 1 teaspoon peanut oil
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced into half moons
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup sweet and sour sauce (recipe follows)
  • 1 (12.3-ounce) package extra-firm silken tofu, cut in 1/2-inch cubes

    In a wok or large frying pan, fry the peanut oil, red onions and garlic for 1 minute. Add the green pepper and saute for about 2 minutes. Pour sweet-and-sour sauce over the mixture. Add the tofu and cook until hot and thickened. Serve immediately.

    This is great served over brown or hapa (brown and white) rice. Garnish with Chinese parsley.


  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch or mochiko rice flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar or brown rice syrup
  • 6 tablespoons ketchup

    Mix the vinegar, soy sauce and cornstarch or rice flour together. When smooth, add the brown sugar or brown rice syrup and ketchup to the mixture. Cook over medium heat until thick. Bottle, label, and save for any sweet-sour dish. Store in the refrigerator.

    Serves 4.

  • Per serving without rice: 239 calories, 7 grams protein, 2 grams fat, 51 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram dietary fiber, 676 milligrams sodium: 12 percent protein, 81 percent carbohydrates, 7 percent fat

  • Just the sauce: 185 calories, 1 gram protein, no fat, 47 grams carbohydrates, no dietary fiber, 590 milligrams sodium: 2 percent protein, 98 percent carbohydrates, 0 percent fat

    Want a local recipe lightened up? Write Light & Local, Taste Section, The Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802; or taste@honoluluadvertiser.com. Carol Devenot is a Kaimuki-raised kama'aina, teacher and recipe consultant, and author of "Island Light Cuisine" (Blue Sea Publishing, paper, 2003). Learn more at www.islandlightcuisine.com.