Back in the days when I used to visit America and subsist almost entirely on chicken tenders, I remember trying a sample of Panda Express orange chicken in a shopping mall. My tastebuds at the time would reject anything remotely natural (or green) and so, of course, I fell in love immediately with the neon orange, gooey sweetness. Despite no longer eating chicken, I’m still a sucker for those sweet takeout style sauces but nowadays I make my own to avoid the inevitable sugar/sodium bomb that comes with them.
Recently, I’ve been experimenting with TVP as my favourite Asian grocer in the city sells a wide variety of different types for around $2 a bag. It’s cheap, versatile and makes for a great ‘fake-out’ dish; a nice change from the usual legumes or mushrooms I tend to use as my protein source in meals. For this recipe I used the Vincent Vegetarian Food TVP chunks which make a great sub for chicken or pork style dishes. I served it on mixed veggies and brown rice vermicelli noodles, stir fried in soy sauce, garlic and finished with a drizzle of sesame oil.
The flavour of the sauce itself is much more vibrant than it’s Panda Express counterpart – with orange juice and zest for tang, agave nectar for sweetness, and fresh ginger for a warm kick – and it’s thickened naturally with a slurry of tapioca flour. To keep it on the healthier side I also left the TVP uncoated, but for an even more authentic tasting dish, feel free to batter or breadcrumb the chunks.
- 80g dried TVP chunks (or tofu/vegan meat chunks)
- 1 veg stock cube (if using TVP only)
- zest and juice of 1 orange
- thumb size piece of ginger, minced
- 1 tsp white miso paste
- 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup tamari
- 2 tbsp agave nectar (or sugar/syrup of your choice)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp tapioca flour
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- sesame seeds to serve
- Start by rehydrating the TVP - if using tofu or other meat alternative, skip this step. Add TVP, veg stock cube and 2 cups of boiling water to a bowl. Leave for 30 minutes (or follow directions for rehydration on package) while you make the sauce.
- To make the sauce, in a bowl dissolve the tapioca flour in a couple of tablespoons of water to create a slurry, then add the orange juice and zest, minced ginger, miso paste, rice wine vinegar, tamari, agave, minced garlic and a cup of water. Mix until combined.
- Once the TVP is rehydrated, remove from the vegetable stock and gently squeeze to remove any excess liquid.
- Add the olive oil to a large frying pan over a high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the rehydrated TVP and fry in the oil, tossing frequently, for roughly ten minutes or until golden.
- Once the TVP chunks have reached the golden colour you desire, add the sauce to the pan and bring to a boil. Once bubbling, turn the heat down and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly.
- Finally, serve with your choice of side and sprinkle with sesame seeds to finish.