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This recipe for easy Taiwanese Tofu “Pork Chops”, or Pai Gu Fan, is a delicious savory street food snack you can make at home with mushrooms, garlic, onions, and soy sauce for that signature flavor without the meat.
What is Pai Gu Fan?
Pai Gu Fan is a street snack or convenience food you can find all over the streets of Taiwan. The traditional dish is a fried pork chop served over rice with a rich ground pork sauce. Growing up in Taipei, I could find it on almost every single street. I would say it’s an iconic Taiwanese food!
Of course, it’s anything but vegan-friendly. So I wanted to experiment with a tofu-based version of this classic dish. The resulting recipe has all of the same savory, sweet and tangy flavours. And tofu makes a delicious substitute for the pork.
The marinade itself is vegan-friendly. To make the traditional ground pork sauce vegan, I substitute pork with chopped dried mushrooms! I used dried shiitake mushrooms which have a meaty texture but also add lots of umami flavour to the sauce.
If you’re Taiwanese, I think you’ll find this dish just as nostalgic as I do.
Here’s what you need to make vegan Taiwanese tofu:
- Tofu. For this recipe, be sure to use high protein tofu or at least extra firm tofu. The difference in tofu firmness is important because you’ll need to cut the tofu into “steaks”. If you use a soft or silken tofu, it won’t hold its shape.
- Garlic. I highly recommend mincing fresh garlic for the best flavor.
- Soy sauce. I use gluten-free soy sauce or tamari.
- Rice wine. To add a bit of acidity to the marinade.
- Coconut sugar. You could use regular granulated sugar if you prefer.
- Five-spice. This is easy to find at Asian markets and well-stocked grocery stores like Whole Foods.
- Cornstarch. Arrowroot powder also works to crisp your tofu steaks.
Ingredients for Vegan Ground “Pork” Sauce
Extra flavor and texture comes from this meat-free sauce made with:
- Dried shiitake mushrooms. You can chop these or pop them into a food processor.
- Shallots and garlic for allium goodness
- Soy sauce or tamari
- Coconut sugar or granulated sugar
- Rice wine
Scoring the top of the tofu is key. This makes more space for the marinade to penetrate the tofu with flavor. Plus, the ridges add extra crispy texture after frying.
The cornstarch/arrowroot is also key for crispy tofu steaks. The texture on top soaks up the savory sauce in a delicious way.
How to Serve Taiwanese Tofu “Pork Chops”
Serve the crispy tofu steaks and sauce over rice. Or, if you want to plate it even more traditionally, serve with a side of mustard greens and top with some fresh sliced scallion tops. Yum!
More Street Food Recipes
- Taiwanese Three-Cup “Chicken” – San Bei Ji/ 三杯鸡 (vegan, gluten free)
- Vegan Bubble Tea (Boba)
- Tofu Satay (vegan, gluten free)
If you make this recipe for Taiwanese Tofu “Pork Chops”, be sure to let me know what you think with a comment below!
Taiwanese Tofu "Pork Chops" (Vegetarian Pai Gu Fan)
- Tofu "Steaks"
- 15 oz extra firm or high protein tofu
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp gluten free soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar
- 2 tsp five spice
- 2 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder
- neutral oil
- Ground "Pork" Sauce
- 1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms finely chopped or food processed
- 2 large shallots finely minced
- 5 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1/2 cup gluten free soy sauce
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp rice wine
- 1 tsp five spice
- black pepper to taste
- 2 cups water
- scallions finely sliced
- mustard greens
- Begin by preparing your tofu. Drain any excess water and wrap in a kitchen towel to gently press out moisture. Slice it into 2 pieces lengthwise (so you end up with 2 "steaks") and then use a knife to score diagonal lines across the surface of each steak. Repeat, scoring perpendicular lines this time.
- In a shallow dish or tupperware container, mix together the garlic, soy sauce, rice wine, coconut sugar and five spice. Add your tofu steaks and let marinate for about 15 minutes, then flip and let marinate again.
- While the tofu is marinating, start your sauce. Add a touch of neutral oil to a pan and once hot, add dried shiitake mushrooms and shallots. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and sauté for another minute.
- Add soy sauce, coconut sugar, rice wine, five spice and black pepper to the pan and use a spatula to ensure the coconut sugar is dissolved. Add water then bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Let simmer for about 30 minutes.
- When ready to serve your steaks, dust with cornstarch or arrowroot powder and heat neutral oil in a pan (use enough to cover the surface of your pan). Once hot, place your steaks in the pan, score side down first and flip once golden brown. Once both sides are cooked, serve over rice and pour a ladle of sauce on top of the tofu steak.
- Garnish with scallions and mustard greens.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.