I’ve already made this Paleo Sweet and Sour Chicken twice and my kids have declared they never want to eat Chinese food anywhere else again. Yes, this recipe is THAT delicious.
Let me back up a little. Since we’ve been gluten free and Paleo (we go between the two depending on how bad the inflammation is with my husband), we’ve been dying for some good Chinese food. It’s pretty much impossible to find gluten free or Paleo Chinese takeout. Believe me, I’ve looked and of the few I did find I didn’t like the ingredients they used.
I can make a handful of Chinese dishes with some help from my sister (who was born in Taiwan and can make some awesome gluten free Chinese food), but she lives all the way in Hawaii. And sometimes, I just want one of my Chinese-American favorites like this Paleo Sweet and Sour Chicken.
That’s why I was thrilled that Russ Crandall (author of The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle) wrote his second cookbook dedicated to restaurant takeout favorites.
Paleo Takeout: Restaurant Favorites Without the Junk is simply amazing. I grew up in Hawaii for most of my life (where Ramen, Chicken Katsu, Bulgogi and Pork Adobo are staples), so I seriously gave this book a big, fat kiss. I was so happy to finally have recipes for my favorite Asian takeout meals without gluten, processed food, artificial ingredients and other junk.
The base of this recipe is the chicken nuggets. I make a similar recipe with fried fish and use it for my chicken too (I often use tapioca flour instead of gluten-free flour – made with a rice/potato mix – to make a crispy coating that’s Paleo friendly). But Russ Crandall got the sauce down. It’s so simple and it’s a great baseline for many of the other Chinese sauces in the book.
It is probably not surprising to read that while this dish is served in Chinese restaurants in many Western countries, it doesn’t really exist in China. There are several sauces served in China that incorporate both sweet and sour tastes, the most common being from the Hunan province, but they’re a far cry from what you can get at your local Chinese-American restaurant. The reality is that this is more of an American dish than a Chinese one.
On the flip side, the Chinese have their own interpretation of Western tastes—like flying fish roe and salmon cream cheese stuffed-crust pizza (at the Hong Kong Pizza Hut). I think it’s a fair trade. ~ Russ Crandall, Paleo Takeout
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp raw honey
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 2 tbsp expeller-pressed coconut oil
- 1/4 cup tapioca or arrowroot starch
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 tbsp arrowroot starch
- 1 tbsp cold water
- 1/2 tsp sesame seeds, to garnish
- 2 green onions, sliced, to garnish
- In a saucepan, combine the sauce ingredients. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, then reduce the heat to low to gently simmer as you prepare the rest of the meal; stir occasionally.
- Preheat your oven to 250°F. In a wok or skillet, warm the coconut oil over medium heat. Combine the tapioca starch, salt, and pepper, then toss the chicken pieces with the starch mixture. With your fingers, dip a starchy chicken piece in the beaten eggs, shake off the excess egg, and then add to the oil. Repeat until you have filled your skillet, being careful not to overcrowd the chicken pieces. Fry the chicken until cooked through, flipping every 2 minutes, about 6 to 8 minutes per batch. As you finish each batch, place the cooked pieces on a plate lined with paper towels; put them in the oven to stay warm. You should be able to cook the chicken pieces in 3 or 4 batches, depending on the size of your skillet.
- Once the chicken is cooked through, finish the sauce. Taste the sauce and add more salt or pepper if needed. If the sauce is too dark and strong tasting, add a little chicken broth to thin it out. At this point, the sauce should be about as thick as tomato soup and should have a sharp but not overwhelming flavor.
- In a small bowl, stir together the arrowroot starch and cold water to create a slurry. Raise the sauce temperature to medium; once bubbling, add half of the slurry and stir until thickened, adding more slurry if needed. Remove from the heat.
- Toss the chicken pieces with the sauce, then garnish with sesame seeds and green onions. Serve over Steamed Rice or Cauliflower Rice.
Consider adding chunks of onion, bell pepper, or even pineapple to enhance the flavor of this dish. These ingredients should be added with the starch slurry in step 4.
This dish is equally delicious made with sliced pork loin or shrimp.
Looking for more recipes like this?
You’ve got to check out Paleo Takeout: Restaurant Favorites Without the Junk by Russ Crandall. He really knocked this book out of the park. It’s got so many delicious recipes featuring your favorite restaurant takeout meals.
Here’s what’s inside Paleo Takeout:
- Over 200 mouth-watering recipes – mostly Asian takeout and some American classics too
- Nearly every recipe can be made in an under an hour
- All recipes are gluten free and Paleo, plus here’s a Whole30 and AIP modification guide
- Chinese Kitchen recipes include: Hot and Sour Soup, Spring Rolls, Chow Mein, Orange Chicken, Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Mongolian Beef, Kung Pao Pork, Honey Walnut Shrimp and more
- Japanese and Korean Favorites include: Ramen, Tempura, Chicken Katsu, Salmon Teriyaki, Bulgogi, Korean Seafood Scallion Pancake, Kimchi and more
- Southeast Asian and Beyond recipes include: Tom Kha Gai, Thai Red Curry, Green Papaya Salad, Pad Thai, Summer Rolls, Bun Cha, Faster Pho, Chicken Tikka Masala, Pork Adobo, Pancit, Chicken Long Rice and more
- American Classics recipes include: Pizza Crust, Calzones, Chicken Wings, Chicken Nuggets, Chini Fries, Eggplant Parmesan, Blackened Fish Tacos and more
- Plus, there’s a guide for hard-to-find ingredients (plus a description of how often they appear in the book)
Photo credit: Reprinted with permission from Paleo Takeout: Restaurant Favorites Without The Junk written by Russ Crandall (Victory Belt Publishing)
p.s. Looking for tips to transition to a real food or healthy gluten-free lifestyle? Check out my free Real Food Guide email course and e-book.disclosure.