BRYANNA'S CANTONESE-STYLE CRISPY "PORK" WITH SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE
This recipe, from my book "Authentic Chinese Cuisine for the Contemporary Kitchen", is more traditional than the usual pineapple version that North Americans are used to. It is one of the dishes I make once in a while with a fried ingredient because it is so good that way! I use a traditional wok for frying, because it is deep, but not wide, so you don't need to use cups and cups of oil. But there is another way as well!
NO-FRY OPTION: Dredge your chunks is the starch as usual. Spread the chunks on a large cookie sheet sprayed with oil from an oil spray bottle/mister. Spray the chunks with a little oil. Place about 6 inches under your oven's broiler. Broil on high for several minutes (watching carefully so they don't scorch or burn) until they are crispy on top. Turn them over and broil briefly until the 2nd side is crispy. Remove from the broiler and proceed with the recipe.
2-3 cups reconstituted textured soy protein chunks (Cooking Tips below where to buy and how to reconstitute)
OR small chunks of seitan
OR reconstituted Soy Curls® (use 1 1/2 cups to 2 1/4 cups dry Soy Curls®, reconstituted for 5 minutes in an equal amount of boiling vegetarian broth; drain)
Cornstarch or water chestnut flour
1 Tbs oil
1 large onion, cut into 6ths, layers separated
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1" squares
1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts (preferably fresh)
OR 1 large stalk celery, sliced 1/4" thick
1/4 cup frozen petit pois (baby peas) thawed in hot water and drained
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 Tbs tomato sauce (or 1 and 1/2 Tbs EACH water and tomato paste)
2 Tbs rice vinegar, plain (or substitute cider vinegar or white wine vinegar)
2 Tbs light organic unbleached sugar
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs dry sherry or Chinese rice wine
3/4 cup water
1 Tbs cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbs cold water
Roll the reconstituted soy protein (or seitan) chunks or Soy Curls® in cornstarch or water chestnut flour, shaking off the excess starch. Heat about a cup of oil in a wok to 375°F.
Fry the chunks in several batches in the hot oil until they are golden and crispy, then drain them on paper towels on a cookie sheet. Keep them warm in a 200°F oven.
Heat a large wok or heavy skillet over high heat. When it's very hot, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, pepper, garlic, and ginger. Stir-fry until the onion starts to turn translucent, adding a few drops of water, if necessary to keep from sticking. Add the water chestnuts or celery, and the peas, along with the Cooking Sauce. Bring this to a boil, then stir in the thickener. Stir until it thickens and quickly add the warm fried gluten or soy protein. Stir well to heat through and serve immediately with rice.
Nutrition (per serving): 352.4 calories; 41% calories from fat; 17.3g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 172.7mg sodium; 857.5mg potassium; 39.7g carbohydrates; 2.5g fiber; 11.4g sugar; 37.1g net carbs; 15.9g protein; 8.0 points.
I give you several options for the protein part of the dish, but our favorite is textured soy protein chunks. Now if you are under the impression that textured soy protein is not good for you, read on:
Actually, textured soy protein is simply de-fatted soy flour cooked with water, then extruded through machinery to make granules, chunks, cutlets, etc., then dehydrated.
Organic and/or solvent-free textured soy protein (TVP®, BTW, is the same thing, but it is a registered brand name, and is also the same thing as "textured vegetable protein" or TSP), is available!
(Updated Feb. 2014)
Bob’s Red Mill: Organic and/or solvent-free
textured soy protein (they call it “TSP), the
granulated version only:
Frontier Co-op: has unflavored organic
textured soy protein in 2 different sizes:
1/4-inch pieces (similar to granules) and
1/2-inch pieces (small chunk):
The Mail-Order Catalog: carries a granulated
version (“small bits”) and a chunk version (“Medium bits”):
So-Soya Slices is another product I like. (Pictured in the dish below.) If you are Canadian, you may be able to buy them from a Bulk Barn. They are GMO-free and can be purchased online at http://www.sosoyafoods.com/shop/
I also like a product called Soy Curls®, which is like stir-fry strips. It is made from the WHOLE soybean (non-GMO). It is very tender and great for stir-fries, etc. Since it contains the natural oil, I keep this dried product in the freezer. Soy Curls® are solvent-free, and I use the crumbs on the bottom of the box sort of like TVP granules.
As for commercial textured soy protein products, Nexsoy makes a commercial organic textured soy protein that manufacturers use for organic meat substitutes.
Here is what they say about their product:
"The unique Nexsoy® process is totally solvent-free, yielding a product line that is free of the "soy" taste that some consumers find unpalatable, leaving you free to work on developing your flavor, not masking agents. Traditionally, most soy ingredients are produced using a chemical solvent called hexane. This method is believed to be responsible for the "grassy" or "beany" flavor that has historically slowed the acceptance soyfoods. The Nexsoy® processing method is entirely mechanical and requires no chemicals such as hexane. This process is responsible for very neutral-tasting naturally-produced soy ingredients that can be used by food manufacturers without negatively impacting the flavor of their product."
HOW TO RECONSTITUTE TEXTURED SOY PROTEIN CHUNKS
Reconstitute the textured soy protein chunks by simmering 1 and 1/2 cups dry chunks in 3 cups water with 3 Tbs soy sauce, 3 Tbs ketchup or tomato paste, and 1 Tbs nutritional yeast flakes for 15-30 minutes, depending upon how tender you like them. Cool and store in the cooking broth. (I usually make 4 or more times this amount and freeze it in 2 cup portions.) Drain the chunks before using them, and pat them dry before coating with flour, frying, or marinating. This amount will yield about 2 cups reconstituted chunks.