Say It Isn’t Tso!

Americans love fried chicken.  The conundrum for anyone trying to eat healthily is the word ‘fried.’ This recipe is my healthier play on ‘General Tso’s Chicken’ using tempeh which is a fermented soy product. Tempeh’s fermentation process retains the whole soybean which gives tempeh a higher content of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins.  The outer crunchy coating on the tempeh is a mixture of cornstarch and aromatic ingredients like ginger, garlic, and sesame oil.  I kept the sauce fairly traditional to continue the deep flavors of the ginger, garlic, and green onions, plus a generous amount of chile paste for a little kick.

My daughter asked me to make this recipe a week later so I knew I had a hit here!


16 oz tempeh

4 cloves garlic, minced and divided

1 cup vegetable broth

1/4 cup cornstarch

2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

4 tablespoons ginger, grated, divided

4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, divided

4 tablespoons chile paste, divided

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

4 tablespoons soy sauce, divided

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon tomato paste

Zest from one orange

Sauce thickener:

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoon cornstarch

Optional Garnishes:

Chopped green onion

Sesame seeds

Orange zest


1) Cut the tempeh into nugget-sized pieces and transfer them to a mixing bowl.

2) Add the cornstarch, paprika, half of the ginger, half of the garlic, sesame oil, half of the rice wine vinegar, half of the chile paste, and soy sauce to the bowl. Mix until incorporated. Cover and chill in the fridge for 1-hour minimum.

3) Add the vegetable oil to a pan on medium-high heat and pan-fry tempeh until browned on all sides. Transfer the cooked tempeh to a bowl and set aside.

4) In the same pan still on medium heat, add the sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes.  Cook until golden brown and aromatic, about 1 minute.

5) Stir in the tomato paste, orange juice, and vegetable broth until incorporated.

6) Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, and half of the orange zest.

7) Mix the cornstarch with the water in a small bowl into a slurry.  Stir the slurry into the sauce and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the sauce thickens.

8) Return the tempeh to the pan and incorporate it into the sauce.  Cook for 2 minutes.

9) To serve, spoon the tempeh and sauce over prepared rice and garnish with chopped green onions, sesame seeds, and orange zest.  Serve hot.

Print this recipe


Leave a Reply