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One of the huge influences in Puerto Rican food might be surprising to some, but it’s Chinese food. Years ago, many Chinese immigrants worked on the island’s road construction projects, and eventually stayed. They brought with them a rich culture and of course, food. Nowadays, there are many Chinese restaurants on the island, and the food has been transformed to something closer to Chinese/Puerto Rican fusion. Pepper “pollo”, or pepper chicken, is one of the dishes that I associate with Chinese food in Puerto Rico. Of course my version is vegan, and I chose to use soy curls as my substitute for the chicken.
When making this vegan pepper “pollo”, or really any dish with soy curls, make sure to soak the soy curls in water for at least 20 minutes to rehydrate. Drain well and wring out with a towel to remove as much water as possible. Another really important step is to marinate the soy curls. Remember that similar to tofu, soy curls really don’t taste like anything so it’s important to marinate to add flavor. For this recipe, use the olive oil, soy sauce, garlic, and liquid smoke marinade combination.
Making the Pepper “Pollo”
Add the sliced vegetables to the pan with hot olive oil and sauté on medium/high until they’re tender, for about 10 minutes. While the vegetables are in the pan, prepare the sauce. Mix the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, maple syrup, and water. Once the vegetables are ready, remove them and heat another tablespoon of oil in the pan. Add the marinated soy curls and sauté until they’re browned, for about five minutes. Do this in two batches if you are using a full bag of soy curls. This is the cookware set that I’ve had for three years and I love it.
Once the soy curls are ready, add the vegetables back and mix in the sauce. Leave covered for about six minutes, then uncovered for another three. Serve on top of white rice and top with sesame seeds and a splash of toasted sesame oil. For the rice, I always use a rice cooker.
- 1 medium onion thinly sliced
- 2 green bell peppers thinly sliced
- 8 oz soy curls 1 bag
- 3 tbsp olive oil
Soy Curls Marinade
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 3 tsp garlic salt
- 2 tsp liquid smoke
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- Soak soy curls in water for at least 30 minutes
- Drain and wring out with a towel
- In a large bowl, mix the soy curls with oil, soysauce, garlic salt, and liquid smoke
- While the soy curls are marinating, heat 2 tbsp in a large pan
- Add the sliced onion and bell peppers on med/high, and sauté for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft
- While the veggies are sautéing, mix the sauce ingredients
- Remove veggies and heat another tbsp of olive oil in the pan
- Add the soy curls and sauté on med/high for about 5 minutes
- Mix in the veggies and the sauce with the soy curls
- Cover and leave on med/high for about 6 minutes, then leave uncovered on med for about 2-3 minutes
- Serve atop white rice and top with sesame seeds, and a splash of toasted sesame oil