As I write this I’m eating my leftovers from last night, it was just so good I could wait to have it again today. Being gluten free, Chinese food is something I rarely eat unless we are with in twenty minutes of a PF Changs in which case I always make Sean stop. However our closest PF Changs is almost an hour away so it doesn’t happen all that oftern. I’ve also found a really great restaurant in NYC called Lilli & Loo, but let’s be real how often am I going into NYC for Chinese food? Hardly ever. So last night I decided to challenge myself and make some of my old favorites from when I could eat gluten. The one thing that always made me hesitant to making Chinese food is the amount of ingredients I would need to buy that I don’t normally have in the house. So I went on pinterest and set out to find a couple of recipes that wouldn’t be too overwhelming. I don’t typically follow recipes because I always like to do things a little different, but I love looking at recipes for inspiration. This usually works out pretty well for me, but it is risky when I’m making something for the first time because it doesn’t always work out the way I want it to. So I checked out a couple sesame chicken recipes and was pleased to find that most people used pretty basic ingredients. I always like to decide on my main dish when cooking and then decide on sides. The other thing I wanted was to be able to use a lot of the same ingredients in the dishes I chose while creating unique and different flavors.
Here is the menu I decided on:
Vegetable Egg Rolls
Sesame Chicken with Snap Peas
It Seems like a lot of food and it was, but it was also light and fresh and delicious!
Here is my grocery list, some things I already had and a lot of you probably do to. I broke it up for each dish in case you are planning on only making one of them, it will be a little easier to see what you need.
Rice Paper Spring Roll Wraps
Coleslaw Mix (No Dressing)
GF Soy Sauce, Tamari, or Liquid Aminos
Chicken Tenderloins or Chicken Breasts (The Tenderloins are just easier to cut into small pieces)
GF Soy Sauce, Tamari, or Liquid Aminos
Flat Brown Rice Noodles
Apple Cider Vinegar
I started first with the Egg Rolls. The rice paper wraps are much harder to work with than regular egg roll wrappers, and I don’t deep fry them so they don’t always end up looking pretty but they taste amazing. First take the coleslaw mix and depending on how many you are planning on making pour some into a mixing bowl. I would say you want at least a half cup per egg roll. I was making four so if you do more than that you’ll just want to add more of the next few ingredients. Pour 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce over the coleslaw mix and stir. Then mix in 2 teaspoons of ground ginger, unfortunately I forgot this last night when I went shopping and didn’t have any. My egg rolls were still good so don’t worry if you forget too, but they really are better with it. Now here’s the tricky part, the rice paper wrappers. You’ll notice the rice paper is hard and brittle, you need to soften them in water before you can use them. Fill a large bowl with warm water and dip the rice paper in one at a time until it’s soft but not too soft that it’s losing its shape. This may take a little trial and error if you’ve never used these before. When you think it’s soft enough lay it flat on a piece of parchment or wax paper and place a half cup of filling in the center. I usually fold the sides in first making it more of an oval rather than a circle. Then starting at the top I roll down keeping the filling in the middle. Repeat this for each egg roll. I don’t like to deep fry these because as good as it tastes we all know it’s just not good for us, but I do flash fry them in a skillet with a little sesame oil to get them a little crispy before putting them in the oven. However if you into frying stuff or you’re looking to treat yourself, by all means fry these babies up. If not place them on baking sheet with parchment or wax paper (They get really sticky) and put them in the oven at 350 until golden brown. The rice paper won’t hold its shape as well this way so don’t be disappointed if they look kind of funky, I promise you they will still taste really yummy.
Now onto the chicken. Keep that skillet out that you used for the egg rolls but set it aside for right now. I love when I can reuse pans and dishes too, it just makes cleanup so much easier. In a small mixing bowl make the sauce first, mix together ¼ cup of whatever soy sauce you are using, 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic, and ¼ of honey. If you like your sesame chicken on the sweeter side you can always add more honey. Now put ½ cup of cornstarch in a large ziploc bag and cut up your chicken in little bite sized cubes. Add the chicken to the bag and seal closed. Shake it around so that the corn starch covers each piece of chicken. Crack two eggs in a bowl and mix. This next part you can do two ways, and depending on which one you chose will determine how big of bowl you need for the eggs. You can take each piece of chicken out of the bag and dip in the egg and then but it in the skillet, this is a little neater but will take a lot longer. Or you can dump the entire bag of chicken into the egg mixture and mix it all up. Now you don’t want to have too much egg on the chicken when you cook it or it will turn into an omelet. Take a pasta strainer and pour the chicken into that over the sink letting the excess egg drip away. Now get that skillet back and add a little more sesame oil and a ¼ chopped scallions, let them cook for a few minutes before adding the chicken. Once the chicken is cooked thoroughly and even a little crispy add the sauce and saute a few more minutes making sure the chicken is evenly covered. I like my snap peas a little crunchy so first I poured the chicken into an oven safe dish and then added the snap peas do the skillet with very little sauce left. After a minute or two add the snap peas to the chicken. Now throw it in the oven that is still hot from the egg rolls but not on anymore. You want to keep it warm while you make the peanut noodles. Everything on this menu cooks very quickly so I found it was best to focus on one thing at a time
While you are still working on the chicken you can start boiling water for the noodles, or you can do what I did and start boiling the water when you finish with the chicken so you can take a couple minutes to sit down and check your phone. Once the water is at a full boil throw in your noodles, the ones I bought came in individually wrapped bundles, I used two bundles. I hope you’ve all cooked pasta before and can kind of take it from here with the noodles.
In a separate saucepan chop up some more scallions and cook them with a tablespoon of sesame oil. Now over medium heat add in 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, ¼ of peanut butter, ½ tablespoon of maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. If you feel like the sauce is too thick you can always add more vegetable stock. Continue to stir until it’s smooth, be careful that it doesn’t start to burn on the bottom of the pan. Pour over cooked rice noodles and top with a few more chopped scallions.
Almost done, and this last part takes no time at all. You have the sesame oil out so you might as well use it but if you’re not a huge fan of sesame oil you can use any oil you like. Pour a little in a skillet with some garlic and then add in your broccoli florets. Again I like my veggies kind of crispy so I only cooked the broccoli for a couple minutes, but you can always cook it longer depending on how you like it.
Obviously you don’t have to make all of these things together like I did, but they work so well together and make such a satisfying meal that I really really recommend it. The sesame chicken would also be delicious over a bed of brown or white rice, but admit it you kind of want those peanut noodles, and who needs two starches? I’m not claiming this to be a low calorie meal, but if you are craving good Chinese food it is certainly better for you and less fattening that take out from a quick service restaurant. Sean liked it all so much that he decided we should have a Chinese New Year Party, so look for more on what I do with that later in the month.