I love Chinese food but since I’m allergic to soy I don’t get it very often. There’s a small Chinese restaurant in central New Hampshire that I visited frequently when I was there last year where they were willing to cook meals for me without any soybean oil or soy sauce. My selection was, of course, limited due to my other allergies but it made me hungry for more.
I recently found a recipe for Orange Chicken and decided I could adapt it if only I could find a substitute for soy sauce, such a staple in Chinese food. So, for those of you who can’t use soy, like me, I’ve got an alternative here for that as well. The recipe is a little complex but if you follow it step by step, its easy enough to make a great dish.
The soy substitute works well in this recipe and I’ll probably try it out on different dishes in the future. Make it ahead. It will freeze which is nice since most recipes call for only a little soy sauce at a time.
In a small saucepan mix:
1 1/2 cups bone broth – I used mushroom but beef would also work
3 teaspoons vinegar
1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses
2 teaspoons date sugar (or date syrup)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Bring to a boil and simmer until reduced by half. Cool.
For the orange chicken, to serve four:
3/4 chicken broth
Zest and juice of 2 oranges
1/4 teaspoon monk fruit powder
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce substitute
2 teaspoons diced garlic
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle (use more if you like it hot)
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
5 teaspoons corn starch (if like me, you have trouble with too much corn, you can use arrowroot, tapioca or cassava here as well) mixed into 2 tablespoons water to make slurry
1 cup arrowroot, tapioca, or cassava flour
1 tablespoon aguafava powder mixed into 1/2 cool water (or you can use 3 egg whites)*
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups olive oil (or any oil you can use)
First, whisk the broth, grated orange zest and juice, the monk fruit powder, vinegar, soy sauce substitute, garlic, ginger, and chipotle in a large saucepan until thoroughly mixed. Transfer 3/4 of the mixture to a large zip-lock bag, add chicken, and toss to coat. Get the air out of the bag by sealing it most of the way and then pressing the bag. Finish sealing bag and refrigerate for at least l hour.
While the chicken marinates, bring to a boil the rest of the sauce. When it comes to a boil, whisk the slurry into the sauce and continue whisking until the sauce is clear and thick. Set aside.
In a large Dutch oven heat the oil to 350 degrees.
Beat the aguafava (or egg whites) until soft peaks, add cream of tartar.
Combine the arrowroot with the baking soda, salt and pepper in a large zip-lock bag.
Set up 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or paper towels on the bottom of the tray and put a cooling rack on top of the paper in one of the baking sheets. Drain the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. In parts, don’t try to do all the chicken at once, coat it with the beaten aguafava (or egg whites), then toss into the bag of flour and shake to coat. Remove chicken from the bag shaking off any excess flour. Place the chicken on the baking sheet without the rack.
Add the floured chicken one piece at a time to the oil and fry until golden brown 3-5 minutes, turning chicken as needed. You should be able to fry 1/3 to 1/2 of the chicken at a time. Transfer to the wire rack. Be sure to bring the oil back to 350 degrees between each batch of chicken.
Reheat sauce until simmering. Add chicken and serve immediately over rice. Some cut scallions add to the dish. You can also add to the sauce some sautéed onion and celery, water chestnuts, broccoli, bok choy, etc.
*You can buy aquafaba powder online. If you don’t have any simply use 1/2 cup aquafaba liquid.