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Vegan Ginger Beef

This vegan ginger beef uses tender homemade beefy beefless seitan, coated in a crispy fried batter, and dressed with sweet ginger beef sauce. It’s super delicious; dare I say, THE BEST VEGAN GINGER BEEF?! just like the original Chinese take-out ginger beef (AKA ginger fried beef or deep fried shredded beef in chili sauce). Click here for the printable recipe or pin it for later.

Video tutorial for Vegan Ginger Beef

 

Ginger beef is a Chinese Canadian invention. According to Wikipedia, it was developed for the local palate in the 1970’s by chef George Wong at the Silver Inn in Calgary, Alberta. It’s made from strips of beef, battered in a mixture of egg and cornstarch and deep fried before being covered in a very sweet and somewhat tangy sauce. Incredibly popular, it’s on practically every Chinese take-out menu here in Calgary, even the vegetarian Chinese restaurant menus. So by popular request, I developed this vegan ginger beef recipe for anyone and everyone who craves the taste and crunch of ginger beef without the meat and eggs.

For now, this vegan recipe doesn’t have a from-scratch gluten-free option. However, I think this recipe would be great using vegan chicken strips or even strips of super firm tofu. I haven’t tried it myself though so please let me know if you do. The only other ingredient containing gluten would be soy sauce. Happily, gluten-free tamari is a good alternative to regular soy sauce.

Aromatics for vegan ginger beef: ginger, garlic, dried chili flakes and, optionally, fresh chili. Not pictured, sesame seeds.

If you’re good with gluten, the homemade beefy beefless seitan makes a tender, flavourful base for this dish. Homemade seitan is pretty simple to make, especially with my recipes. Most of the ingredients go in a blender, then you mix the puree with vital wheat gluten (aka pure gluten flour) into a dough and steam it. It has to cool down in order to cut into strips though so it’s best to make the seitan a day ahead or up to three days in advance. You can even freeze your homemade seitan for up to two months. Then you can pull it out and make vegan ginger beef anytime you like.

Hand shredded beefy beefless seitan

I developed beefy beefless seitan originally a few years ago as an alternative to using beef in recipes. It has a dense bite with a tender texture and a delicious flavour from mushroom bouillon, marmite, and other savory plant ingredients. This makes a wheat-based meat that’s delicious and satisfying when sliced for sandwiches or cubed up and browned for stews and curries. When combined with other ingredients typically used with beef, it gives the impression of meat. And in this vegetarian ginger beef, it’s tender and flavourful. But don’t expect it to actually taste like beef.

Fried beefy beefless seitan strips

If you want to make a vegan Ginger Fried Chicken, you could take the sauce in this recipe and simply drizzle it over The Best Vegan Fried Chicken recipe using tofu. The rice crispies in the batter help to maintain the crunchiness even after a light coating of the sweet ginger sauce.

But for this recipe, I wanted to keep the batter simple. After testing out a few different batters, I went back to my old favourite egg-alternative: ground flax seed. Mixed with water and cornstarch in just the right proportions, it becomes a batter that fries up to light, crispy perfection.

Gooey batter between chopsticks

Don’t think about what it looks like; just know this batter will fry up to crispy, crunchy perfection!

I’ve mentioned several times that this sauce is sweet. How sweet? A half cup’s worth of sugar sweet. Yes, it needs that full amount to compare to the original dish. The sweetness is balanced with some tangy vinegar, heat from dried chillies, garlic and ginger. I add some lemon juice for brightness as well; some extra tang to cut the fat from frying.

I hope you give this recipe for vegan ginger beef a try. As always, please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. And if you do give this recipe a try, let me know how it goes!

Printable Recipe for Vegan Ginger Beef

Yield: 4 servings

Vegan Ginger Beef

vegan ginger beef recipe image

Spicy sweet and sour ginger sauce lightly coats a crispy fried batter enveloping tender homemade beefy beefless seitan in this vegan version of the Chinese Canadian take-out classic: ginger fried beef.

Since this uses homemade seitan that needs to be steamed for an hour to cook, then cooled for several hours before slicing, it's best to make the beefy beefless seitan a day ahead so you have plenty of time. Beefy beefless seitan can be made ahead and frozen so you can defrost and cook it up anytime. The cook time in this recipe starts after you have your cooled seitan ready.

Customize this vegan ginger beef to your taste. Choose white sugar in this recipe for a more classic flavour or brown sugar for a richer taste. Include the optional coarse grated ginger for a powerful ginger flavour or leave it out if you're not used to the flavour of ginger. You can make this recipe less spicy by reducing the amount of dried red chilies. Or add extra heat with the addition of a de-seeded fresh red chili. This is your vegan ginger beef and there are no rules!

Pin this recipe

Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

The Protein:

  • 1 batch beefy beefless seitan (500g/17oz) OR see notes for substitutions
  • batter
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed (or ground chia seed)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • oil for frying

Stir-fry aromatics:

  • 2 teaspoons cooking oil, such as canola or peanut oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons coarse grated ginger (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 fresh red chili, deseeded, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)

Stir-fry sauce mix:

  • 1/2 cup white or brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Prepare the beefy beefless seitan according to the recipe. Let it cool before slicing or tearing into lengths about 1 cm thick or just under 1/2".
  2. Whisk together water, ground flax seed and cornstarch. Let stand for 5 minutes. The batter will thicken as the flax absorbs the water.
  3. Meanwhile, mix the stir-fry sauce ingredients together: sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, and lemon juice. This would be a good time to prepare your stir-fry aromatics as well.
  4. After the batter has thickened, add the seitan strips and mix with clean hands so that each strip is well coated.
  5. In a wok or large pan, heat about a half inch to an inch of oil over medium high heat to shallow fry the seitan. When the oil is very hot but not yet to the point of smoking, add the seitan; a piece at a time. Do not crowd the wok or skillet; work in batches if needed. Fry the seitan for 1 - 2 minutes or until nicely browned. See the video for a demonstration. Drain the fried seitan on a paper towel-lined wire rack. Turn off the heat.
  6. Remove excess oil from the wok/pan, leaving about two teaspoons. Add the aromatics: finely grated and roughly grated ginger, garlic, and dried red chili flakes. Also add the fresh chili and sesame seeds if using. Stir-fry over medium high heat for about 30 to 60 seconds until the ingredients become fragrant but before the sesame begins to burn.
  7. Then stir the sauce ingredients quickly before adding them to the aromatics. Let this mixture boil for 2 to 3 minutes, reducing the liquid so it becomes thicker and syrupy.
  8. Arrange the crispy fried seitan on to a serving dish, pour over the sauce, toss to coat and serve immediately.

Notes

Beefy Beefless Seitan Alternatives

While I HIGHLY recommend my Beefy Beefless Seitan for this recipe (it's truly made for it), you can also use store-bought alternatives, including:

  • vegan beefless cubes (like Gardien)
  • large texturized soy protein chunks (re-hydrate with water, drain, squeeze dry and moisten with vegan beef-style broth)
  • soy curls (same process as using TVP chunks)
  • breaded vegan protein products (prepare as directed on package and skip to step 6)

Gluten-free option

For now, this recipe doesn’t have a from-scratch gluten-free option. However, I think this recipe would be great using The Best Vegan Fried Chicken recipe (just use the ginger sauce), vegan chicken strips or even strips of super firm tofu. I haven’t tried it myself though so please let me know if you do. The only other ingredient containing gluten would be soy sauce. Happily, gluten-free tamari is a good alternative to regular soy sauce.

Roughly grated ginger

While I generally dislike biting into chunks of ginger, I do enjoy the texture in this particular dish. Use the coarse side of a box grater or hand chop the pieces to your preference. If you're not keen on biting into ginger pieces, just leave the coarse grated ginger out.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Want more Vegan Chinese Take-Out Recipes? Try:

 

Showing 41 comments
  • Natasha
    Reply

    You are my absolute HERO for creating this. I’ve miss this flavor SO much.I cannot wait to try this tonight.
    Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!!

    • Mary
      Reply

      You’re most welcome, Natasha! Please let me know how it goes 🙂

      • Natasha
        Reply

        Finally got to make it. It was absolutly incredible. I am already looking forward to making it again!
        Thank you again for veganizing my favorite dish:)

        • Mary
          Reply

          I’m so glad to hear this, Natasha <3 You're most welcome 🙂

    • Louise
      Reply

      Wow, thanks for such a clear video and taking it slow so I could take it all in. Can’t wait to make them!

      • Mary
        Reply

        You’re most welcome, Louise! Thanks for leaving your kind comment <3 It means a lot!

    • Patrick
      Reply

      OMG… We tried this about a week and a half ago and were floored! We honestly thought this was way better than any Chinese takeout. As I am working this my husband is coming a double batch for tonight, with leftovers! Thank you!

      • Mary
        Reply

        Yay! I’m so happy that you both enjoyed it so much! Thanks so much for the lovely comment <3

  • Bruna
    Reply

    This looks amazing!
    Do you think the batter would stick well to veggies too? Or would you recommend another type for that? I want to make crispy cauliflower “wings”, but all batters I tried end up a soggy mess, especially when sauce is added!

    • Mary
      Reply

      Thanks, Bruna! Yes, I think so. My friend tried it with cauliflower and says it was really good.
      I’m not 100% sure, but I think it would help if you roast the veggies first, then let them cool, and then batter and fry. This would be to remove some of the moisture. Once, I tried an Edgy Veg recipe that used that process and it turned out really nice!
      Good luck!
      Cheers,
      Mary

  • Nancy
    Reply

    Don’t call it “beef” if there is NO beef in the recipe. I have no problem with vegan food, but I think it’s misleading to call it Ginger Beef.

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Nancy,
      Vegans and vegetarians often search for meatless versions of old favourites in this way; using “vegan” + “non-vegan food they use to like” and enter that into search engines. We use the same terminology in everyday speech; it’s pretty darn clear. The word Vegan tells you that it’s a vegan version; no animal products. Calling it anything else would just be confusing to the people trying to search for a vegan version of Ginger Beef. And since this recipe was published, I can see from the traffic that loads of people use the exact search term: Vegan Ginger Beef.

      Now that you know that, you’ll not mistakenly believe that anything labelled as vegan beef, vegan chicken, vegan etc is actually made of animals or animal products. If you’re looking for animal meat recipes, just avoid any that have the word vegan (or meatless or vegetarian and qualifiers of that sort) attached to it and you’ll get what you want.
      Cheers,
      Mary

      • Lisan
        Reply

        You’re so right, Mary! I had a craving for that Canadian-Chinese takeout staple of my pre-veg days, dry ginger beef, and googled “vegan recipe dry ginger beef”. And here we are. I’m excited to try this recipe!
        Thanks for posting it!

        • Mary
          Reply

          You’re most welcome, Lisan! <3 I'm so happy to be able to help with cravings! 🙂

    • VeganVorLife
      Reply

      What a strange comment, you know recipes have ingredients lists and there isn’t any mention of any meat, and the first word in the title of the recipe is ‘vegan’? Lol

      • Mary
        Reply

        VeganVorLife, I guess there are still lots of people who aren’t very familiar with the word vegan and how it is used! I can see this changing though so it’s hopeful 🙂

  • Melisa Sakamaki
    Reply

    OMG! I made this tonight for dinner and it was delicious!! My 17 year old, athletic son, had three servings. Thank you for this recipe! It’s such a great feeling when you can cook vegan with all that flavor and your family can’t get enough of it. Please keep the wonderful recipes and videos coming.

    • Mary
      Reply

      Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience, Melisa! This is so awesome to hear 🙂 You’ve made my day!
      -Mary

  • Nelleke
    Reply

    Mary you kitchen Genius !!! This was so tasty and full of flavour. Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work
    Xx

    • Mary
      Reply

      Thanks for the kind words 🙂 It means a lot to me <3

  • Andre
    Reply

    I just happen to find this recipe looking for a stir-fri sauce. I had some spicy ginger soy steps in the freezer I wanted to cook

    Instead of chili flakes I used red pepper flakes and didn’t use any red chili.

    The sauce doesn’t come out thick, so I added some cornstarch until thick to my liking.

    The spicy ginger soy and loads of veggies with the sauce. It was amazing and not too spicy, it had the right spiciness with a good sweetness to it.

    It the future I plan on doing the full recipe.

    • Mary
      Reply

      Yay! Glad you found it and customized it for what you were looking for 🙂 Thanks so much for commenting, Andre!

  • Kay Reddy
    Reply

    Awesome recipe thank you!!

    • Mary
      Reply

      You’re welcome, Kay! Glad you like it 🙂

  • Petra
    Reply

    Hi there. This looks amazing!!! Just a question…do you think air frying would work instead of oil frying?

    • Mary
      Reply

      Sorry, Petra. I really don’t know for this one since it is a wet batter. Please do let me know if you try it <3
      -Mary

  • Nicole
    Reply

    Made this dish last night. So good! I am a fairly new vegan and have not learned to make seitan yet so I used Gardein Beefless Strips. They are already breaded so I didn’t have to make that part of the recipe. I didn’t feel like chopping garlic so I used dry,minced garlic. Recipe came out great. Love the sticky sauce. I took the leftovers to work with flour tortillas and made ginger beef tacos! Great recipe. Thank you!

    • Mary
      Reply

      Yay! I’m stoked for you, Nicole! Love the shortcuts –we ALL need them sometimes. And Ginger “Beef” Tacos sounds brilliant! Thanks so much for your comment. Stay well and safe!
      -Mary

    • Sarafina
      Reply

      Wow! OMG flavor bomb. I’ve had this recipe booked for a while because even though I’ve never really found a good seitan dish that I’ve liked, by reading the ingredients in your dish something told me this might be different. So glad I tried it! I was so surprised how much it tasted like the real thing. I doubt the majority people could even tell the difference. Just fantastic. Well done!

      Now that I’ve tried it I want to cook it for my food group of 15 newbies that are trying to switch over and go vegan. I am just in love with this recipe! I’m even going to make it for my two sisters (not vegan but will eat it if it’s good) this next weekend. Thanks for sharing the love!

  • Marc
    Reply

    OMG Mary
    Fantastic dish went down a storm here in Wales
    ????
    How can I send you some pics of my effort?

    • Mary
      Reply

      That’s awesome to hear, Marc. Thanks for sharing 🙂 You can post your pics to Instagram and tag me @marystestkitchen.
      -Mary

  • Shaelyn Melnyk
    Reply

    Tasty! I think I will try a version of this with cauliflower next time because it was delicious!

    • Mary
      Reply

      Yay! I’m so happy to hear that, Shaelyn! Thanks for sharing <3
      -Mary

  • Heather
    Reply

    My entire family loved this. I reduced the sugar to 1/4 cup and baked half of the seitan at 450 degrees and fried the other half. My family couldn’t tell the difference between the two batches so next time I will just bake it —less messy, faster and healthier. Thank You So much for all of your delicious recipes!

    • Mary
      Reply

      That’s wonderful to hear, Heather! Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your modifications for a baked, less sweet version!
      Stay well and safe,
      Mary

  • Justine
    Reply

    Hi i was wondering if i could use store bought Seitan, or it needs to be homemade. either way, the recipe looks amazing, thank you.

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Justine,
      Great question. I think that you could use store-bought seitan as long as it’s tasty. That means…not the pacific foods one in the tetrapak container. haha That one has scarred me for life.
      Stay well and safe,
      Mary

  • Robyn Kurtz
    Reply

    hi! do you think this would work with soy curls?

    • Mary
      Reply

      Yes! Soak the soy curls to rehydrate and drain them really well after they plump up. Squeeze out excess moisture as best you can and use a vegan beef-style broth to flavour them. Then, you can pretty much use them the same way as the cooked seitan.

  • Nicole
    Reply

    This was a hit tonight! Instead of seitan we used Tofu. It worked best to roll around in plain cornstarch and then coat in flaxseed batter before frying. It turned out AMAZING!! Definitely reminded me of a Mongolian beef. Thanks!

    • Mary
      Reply

      That does sound a little less messy 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing, Nicole. I’m glad you loved it!
      – Mary

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