If you're a fan of rhubarb, you likely look forward to rhubarb season with cravings for pie, cake and crumble. Although rhubarb makes wonderful desserts, its savory applications are often overlooked. Rhubarb can actually be used in any context where a little tartness is needed. Here, we'll add it to a Chinese classic: sweet and sour sauce.
Start with the tofu. Marinate it for a little while in soy sauce and sake, then add some cornstarch to form a thin batter.
While it's marinating, work on the sauce. Simmer the rhubarb in some water and sugar until it softens. In the picture below, I waited a little long and my rhubarb started to disintegrate. By the time I finished cooking the dish, it had completely incorporated into the sauce, which was fine. However, if you want your sauce to have some chunks of rhubarb left in it, just make sure you simmer it until it's tender enough to be pierced through with a fork.
Now stir in some more sweet and sour ingredients like ketchup, vinegar and hoisin sauce, along with some savory flavors like vegetarian oyster and worcestershire sauces. After thickening it with cornstarch, you'll have a lovely, rich sweet and sour sauce.
It's time to fry the tofu. Shake off extra batter and stir the tofu while it's frying to help prevent it from clumping together. Make sure it ends up being nice and dark golden brown so that it maintains its crispness when smothered in sauce.
Finally, using a base of garlic and ginger, stir fry up some onion, peppers and pineapple. Mix in that lovely sauce you just made.
Add the tofu at the end and serve it garnished with chopped cilantro. Ask your guests if they can tell what the secret ingredient is!
Rhubarb Sweet and Sour Tofu
1 1/2 cups rhubarb chunks
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons vegetarian oyster sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1“ ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, cut into bite sized chunks
1 green bell pepper, cut into bite sized chunks
1 red bell pepper, cut into bite sized chunks
1 cup pineapple chunks
- Prepare the tofu. Whisk the soy sauce and sake together in a large, sealable plastic container. Add the tofu cubes, cover and gently shake to coat. Set aside to marinate while you prepare the sauce, shaking occasionally.
- Combine rhubarb and sugar with 1/3 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for 5-10 minutes or until rhubarb is tender and sugar is dissolved. Stir in remaining sauce ingredients until dissolved and set aside.
- Heat 1” of oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add cornstarch to the container with tofu and shake until tofu is thoroughly coated in a pale, wet batter.
- Test the heat of the oil by dropping in a small amount of batter. If it quickly rises and sizzles, the oil is ready. Fry the tofu cubes in batches, shaking off excess batter before adding them to the pot. Cook 2-3 minutes or until deep golden brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels.
- Prepare the stir fry. Heat oil in a wok or large pan, then add ginger and garlic. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Add the onion and cook 3 minutes or until just softened. Add bell pepper and cook 2-3 minutes or until vegetables are tender-crisp. Stir in pineapple chunks and sauce and bring to a simmer. Cook for 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in fried tofu. Serve immediately.