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I ate that stuff for years - tender chicken breast coated in a puffy, crisp batter with a little polystyrene cup of bright orange sweet and sour sauce. Yeah, it was a bit gloopy - and disconcertingly almost kind of neon in colour - but I loved it. I'd power walk from my office at 5.30pm on a Friday to the Chinese takeaway that was on the way home and order a bagful of those crispy balls (10 of them), the sauce and a mahoosive tub of egg fried rice. I'd plonk down on the sofa, all by myself, settle in for a night of Friends and Frasier on the TV and eat the lot.
But it's not the most healthy, really, is it? I never managed to figure out what was in the sauce, and when I made sweet and sour sauce myself once it tasted nothing like the takeaway stuff. The batter was crisp and golden on the outside, but always had this gooey inside that stuck to the chicken in sticky clumps. And the chicken was often chewy and overcooked.
But this. This is healthy.
In fact, it's totally AIP compliant.
I've become OBSESSED with creating AIP compliant and paleo dishes that taste as close as possible to all the takeaway treats I've eaten over the years (and there were a lot). All the ones I've made so far are in my ebook SPICE.
I've tried a lot of sweet and sour sauce recipes, but most of them contain tomatoes, which gives it the reddish/orange colour. Many of them also have quite a lot of sugar - far more than the 2 tablespoons of honey in this one. This sauce is made with just a few ingredients, and it tastes so much like the real thing - better, in fact - that it will totally curb a Chinese takeaway craving,
The chicken is coated in tapioca flour, so it retains a light crispness. And I think the sauce and veggies have just the right amount of sweet-sour balance, but feel free to tweak the vinegar/honey ratio if you need to.
I think this is best served as it is - with no rice, just the chicken and veggies on a plate together.
AIP Crispy Chicken with Sweet and Sour Vegetables
6 heaped tablespoons tapioca flour + 1 tsp for later
good pinch of salt
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 tsp cooking fat (I use mild, unflavoured coconut oil)
150ml chicken stock or broth
1 large carrot, peeled and trimmed and then cut into matchsticks
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 thick slice of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons runny honey
2 tablespoons good quality apple cider vinegar
2 Pak Choi cabbages, washed, trimmed and sliced
2 spring (green) onions, washed, trimmed and chopped
pinch of salt
First, mix together the 6 heaped tablespoons of tapioca flour and salt in a bowl and put to one side.
Chop the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and gently drop them into the bowl with the tapioca flour, turning them so they are well coated. Melt the cooking fat in a large frying pan and fry the coated chicken for 4-5 minutes, turning as needed, until sizzling and golden and just cooked through. Cook the chicken in batches - if you try and try too many at once they might just turn soggy in the steam. Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200ºC/400ºF and transfer each batch of cooked chicken pieces to an ovenproof dish once cooked to keep warm in the oven. It will only be a few minutes, which is the time it takes to make the sauce, so you need to make sure the chicken is cooked now.
While the chicken pieces are keeping warm in the oven, make the sauce.
Pour the chicken broth or stock into a saucepan (you could rinse out the pan you cooked the chicken in if you like, and use it for the sauce, to save on washing up). Add the carrot sticks, the chopped garlic clove, ginger, honey and apple cider vinegar. Bring to a low simmer and stir occasionally. The sauce will gradually reduce (about 3-4 minutes) and become slightly thicker, although keep your eye on it so it doesn't burn. Once the carrot sticks are just tender - I like them still a bit crisp - throw in the Pak Choi and the chopped spring onions and stir, until the cabbage has wilted. Quickly stir in the teaspoon of tapioca flour to thicken the sauce and season with a pinch of salt if you think it needs it.
Serve the vegetables and sauce on a plate and arrange the crisp chicken pieces on top.
Are you looking for more AIP and paleo recipes that will help curb your cravings for takeouts? Want to know how to perk up your cooking with autoimmune protocol-compliant herbs and spices? Check out my ebook SPICE, available on Amazon Kindle devices and apps now.
This recipe has been posted in Phoenix Helix's AIP Recipe Roundtable.