I adore Chinese food. Well, to be honest, I adore pretty much all Asian cooking, where so many salty sauces often take center stage. But salty sauces and salt-free diets do not mix. So lately I’ve been on a quest to recreate as many traditionally verboten recipes as possible, trading the salty sauces for acceptable substitutes. (And I’m not the only one. Just a few days ago, Sodium Girl shared a low-so version of Korean Bibimbap, another amazing dish that ain’t just for salt eaters anymore! Huzzah!)
Today’s recipe comes from Cooking Light magazine. As originally written it calls for pork, not chicken, as well as soy sauce. I’ve swapped meat strictly out of preference; this recipe will be terrific with either, or even beef or tofu. I’ve traded in the soy sauce for its tasty cousin, faux. If you’ve yet to meet faux soy sauce (and yes, I know I’ve said this before) prepare to be amazed! A combination of molasses, sodium-free beef bouillon, rice wine vinegar, water and black pepper. That’s all. It doesn’t taste remotely like soy sauce on its own, though it puts on a good show. But when used in combination with other Asian ingredients, you’d never know the difference. And I’m not joking. The only other ingredient here which may give some pause is Sriracha, a spicy red chili sauce originally from Thailand, often seen on tables at Pho restaurants. I love the stuff, though at 100 mg sodium per teaspoon, I use it sparingly. That said, even a tiny bit will add a lot of flavor (not to mention heat) to this and many other dishes, so it’s worth trying if you don’t already have it. Look in the International foods or Asian section at the supermarket. My favorite brand, Huy Fong, has a rooster on the front. You can’t miss it.
Yields 4 servings.
SODIUM CONTENT: 133 mg per serving
1/4 c. slivered almonds
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 T. cornstarch, divided
3 T. faux soy sauce (recipe below), divided
1- 8-oz. can pineapple chunks, in juice (liquid reserved)
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. sugar
2 T. no salt added ketchup
2 t. Sriracha (hot chili sauce, such as Huy Fong)
1 T. vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion, diced (about 1 c.)
1 t. minced fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 scallions, thinly sliced (green and white portions)
FAUX SOY SAUCE (adapted from Dick Logue’s Soy Sauce Substitute)
1/4 c. molasses
3 T. rice wine vinegar
1 T. water
1 t. low-sodium or sodium-free beef bouillon granules
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
To make the faux soy sauce, measure ingredients into a small saucepan or microwave safe bowl and heat on low to combine. Store unused portion in an airtight container in the refrigerator for later use.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place slivered almonds on a baking sheet and toast in oven 4 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
Combine chicken, 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon faux soy sauce in a small bowl; toss well to coat. Drain the pineapple, reserving juice. Measure juice, remaining tablespoon cornstarch, remaining 2 tablespoons faux soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, salt-free ketchup and Sriracha in another small bowl; whisk to combine.
Heat a large saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil and swirl to coat. Add chicken to pan and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Add onion, ginger and garlic and sauté 1 minute. Stir in pineapple and bell pepper and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Stir in the sauce mixture and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Remove from heat, sprinkle with almonds and green onions, and serve immediately.