On January 31st millions of people will celebrate Chinese New Year. We are about to enter the Year of the Horse. Chinese astrology has 12 zodiac animals and the horse is associated with working towards self-improvement and stellar well-being. Horses are known for their grit, endurance and vitality.
Many cities have colorful and lively parades for Chinese New Year – New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. among them. Can’t make it to a parade? Celebrate the Year of the Horse at home with this simple Slow Cooker Sweet & Sour Tofu which is vegan and gluten-free. The slow cooker will fragrance your house with exotic spices.
One of the secrets of this recipe is using frozen and thawed tofu. If you’ve worked with tofu before, you know how it can crumble and be downright messy. Plan ahead – throw your box of tofu in the freezer as soon as you come home from the store. The day before you plan to make this recipe, thaw it on the counter. It will take about 4 to 6 hours and then it’s ready to drain. You’ve got to drain the tofu before you use it! Just take it out of the box and squeeze all the liquid out. Then it’s ready to absorb the flavor of the marinade!
1 20 oz. can of pineapple chunks
2 Tbl. gluten-free soy sauce or tamari
2 Tbl. rice vinegar
1 Tbl. ketchup
1 Tbl. minced fresh ginger root
3 cloves minced garlic
1 block extra firm tofu, frozen, thawed and drained
1 cup onion, chopped roughly
1 Tbl. olive oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 cup snap peas in pods
1 cup baby corn
Drain pineapple juice into a bowl, setting fruit aside for later. Add soy or tamari sauce, rice vinegar, ketchup, ginger and garlic. Stir to combine. Cut tofu into bite-size cubes. Add it to the sauce and allow to marinade while cutting other vegetables, or even overnight.
Saute onion in oil about 5 to 8 minutes, until caramelized and lightly browned. Add to a medium sized (4 quart) slow cooker bowl. Combine all peppers, carrots and broccoli into the slower cooker. Pour tofu and sauce into slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours. One hour before the dish is complete, add pineapple chunks, snap peas and baby corn, as these items need less time to cook.
Please note, not all slow cookers have the same heat settings. Your may need a little more or less time. Stir the tofu and veggies occasionally, and use the scent to help judge done-ness. When your kitchen smells like the pick-up area of your local Chinese restaurant, the dish is done!
Serve over brown or white rice, or with noodles.
Feel free to add other veggies you like, such as chopped celery, bamboo shoots or water chestnuts. These Chinese staple foods are available in the ethnic aisle of most local supermarkets. Many Chinese restaurants serve this dish with fried tofu, which is also delicious. Just fry the marinaded tofu cubes with the onions until the edges are brown and crisp. Proceed as above.