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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 1 batch beefy beefless seitan (500g/17oz) OR see notes for substitutions
- 1 cup cold water
- 1/4 cup ground flax seed (or ground chia seed)
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- oil for frying
- 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
- 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".
- Whisk together water, ground flax seed and cornstarch. Let stand for 5 minutes. The batter will thicken as the flax absorbs the water.
- 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.
- After the batter has thickened, add the seitan strips and mix with clean hands so that each strip is well coated.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Arrange the crispy fried seitan on to a serving dish, pour over the sauce, toss to coat and serve immediately.
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)
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.
Want more Vegan Chinese Take-Out Recipes? Try:
- Vegan Kung Pao Tofu
- Vegan General Tso’s “Chicken”
- Vegan Mapo Tofu
- Salt and Pepper Tofu
- Vegan Salt and Pepper Wings