There are very few memories I have of consuming meat, because it honestly feels like a lifetime ago! But there's one dish I do remember periodically, and that is this delicious, sweet Orange Chicken I'd get from my local Chinese restaurant (you know what I'm talking about!) Deep-fried in a wonderful batter of oil and gluten, paired with a sugary high fructose corn syrup sauce (insert sad face here)... and on the side, a couple of vegetables as an after thought. Most of us are well aware that this dish is not healthy, but that doesn't always stop us from consuming the taste and textures we so often desire.
So... let's reinvent this dish, let's make it healthy and let's make it taste amazing!
Serves 4 people
Vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, low-fat
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 60 min (rice cooker, baking, steam)
Materials needed: Rice cooker, parchment paper
1 block firm tofu, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 - 1 tsp orange zest
1 c+ fresh, squeezed orange juice (or cold-pressed)
1/4 c. coconut sugar - or - equal parts brown rice syrup
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
2 tbsp liquid aminos (gluten-free soy sauce)
1/2 c. corn starch, mixed with 2 tbsp warm water, into a paste
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
1/4 tsp sriracha
1 c. cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 c. sugar snap peas
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
2 stalks scallions, sliced thin
Sesame seeds, for garnish *not pictured but a-must!
White or brown rice, pre-cooked according to instruction
Pre-heat your oven to 410 degrees. Prep your tofu and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, mix the orange zest, orange juice, coconut sugar, ginger powder, garlic powder, garlic salt, & liquid aminos, whisk to combine. Heat a medium-sized non-stick skillet over medium heat, add your sauce and bring to a boil for 1-2 min. Reduce heat to simmer, and slowly whisk in your corn starch paste - making sure to dissolve all the chunks. At this point you can add red chili flakes, sriracha, and more-or-less of orange juice/zest, ginger, and/or sugar. We don't like it too tart, so we don't add too much orange zest - however - we like it spicy, so we add around 1/4 tsp of sriracha.
This recipe can easily be tailored to your taste buds. Once your sauce is thick & gooey, toss in your tofu and coat well. Remove each piece and dust in corn starch, keep the remaining sauce in the pan over very low heat. Place your tofu on your baking sheet (with parchment paper), and bake for 20 min, flipping halfway through. In the mean time, steam or saute your favorite vegetables - we used, mushrooms, snap peas, and broccolini. Once your tofu is crisp, remove from the oven and toss them in leftover sauce. Coat well. Plate each dish with rice, steamed vegetables, and orange tofu. Garnish with lots of scallions and sesame seeds (toasted are ideal!) Serve immediately.
Nutritional Highlights: The sunshine fruit. Oranges contain a high amount of Vitamin C - and - the flavonoids within oranges make it so Vitamin C can function with our immune system, adrenal glands, and reproductive organs. The consumption of oranges and fresh-pressed orange juice has shown to protect against cancer and help fight viral infections. One orange provides nearly 100% of the recommended intake of Vitamin C.