When some people start eating healthier and eliminating junk from their diets, they miss things like pasta, bread, and cheese. Personally, I pine over Americanized Asian foods. Deep fried chicken smothered in sugary, sweet and sour sauces with mountains of rice and fluffy steam buns were staples of my childhood. My grandfather knew the owner of every Chinese restaurant in my home town because all he ate was Chinese food (sometimes he let us eat pizza).
Unfortunately, now that I know what goes into that kind of food, though delicious, it’s definitely not great for you. Even vegetable stir fries at Chinese restaurants are tossed in sauces that will crash your blood sugar and cooked in stuff you probably don’t want going into your body regularly.
So what’s an Asian food lover who also loves feeling well to do?
Americanized Chinese food is a tough thing to master without those mystery oils and sugary sauces, but we do our best. Here’s a healthy recipe that takes about an hour, has only 6 ingredients, and might just satisfy your craving for a vinegary, spicy Asian dish.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
- 2 lbs (.90kg) chicken wings/drumsticks/thighs
- 1.5 tsp (5mL) coconut oil
- 1/4 cup (59mL) coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
- 2 tbsp (30mL) vinegar (white or apple cider)
- 1.5 tsp (7.5mL) fresh ginger – find this in the produce section of your grocery store. It looks like a wonky root. If you’ve never seen what a ginger root looks like before, don’t sweat it. Check out the top, center of the ingredient photo above.
- 1 tbsp (15mL) Sriracha (from Nom Nom Paleo)
PLUS: Your favorite stir fry veggies. You’re an adult; You’re not just having chicken wings for dinner. Mushrooms, bell pepper, zucchini, and carrots make a pretty good stir fry. If you’re feeling fancy, grab some bok-choy and snow peas too!
Optional ingredients – for making your food look nice and taste even better:
- Sesame seeds
- 1 lime – cut into wedges
- 2 chopped green onions
- Glass baking dish or metal cake pan – 9×13 is a good size. You can actually do this in any baking dish or pan that has high sides (so the sauce doesn’t bubble over and burn in your oven). Dripping a sauce into your oven is a total bummer.
- Measuring spoons
- Measuring cup
- Bowl – for mixing the sauce together
- Fork – for mixing the sauce together
- Cutting board
- Tongs for flipping
1. Turn on your favorite song and have a 30 second dance party. You know you want to.
First Second, we’re going to prepare the ginger. This is probably the most difficult part of the whole recipe, so stick with me! Once you get through this, you can get through anything.
If peeling and prepping ginger is a mystery to you, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered:
- First, cut off a piece that’s about an inch long. This is called a “thumb” of ginger, because it’s about the size of a human thumb. Clever.
- Next, use your knife to carefully peel off the thin layer of brown skin. I like to stand the ginger up vertically. Set the flat surface that you just cut from the larger part of the ginger root against the cutting board so that you have better control over the ginger as you’re peeling it, like this:
Use the knife to peel down towards the cutting board (and away from yourself) while holding and turning the ginger with your other hand so that you get all the skin off.
- Next, slice your skinned piece of ginger into medallions.
- Then stack 2-3 medallions on top of each other and slice those into matchsticks (hot dog style). Turn the matchsticks 90 degrees (hamburger style) and cut them into tiny cubes (mincing).
In this photo, on the left, you have the “matchsticks” and on the right you have the minced ginger.
And that’s it! You did it!
3. Now take your coconut oil, coconut aminos, vinegar, ginger, and Sriracha and toss them in a bowl (if the coconut oil is solid, you might have to warm it up in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds). Mix the ingredients up well with your fork.
4. Take your chicken and put it in your baking dish. Be sure to wash your hands well after touching the chicken!
5. Pour your sauce over the chicken. Let it sit for about 15 minutes. (If the coconut oil cools and solidifies like mine did, that’s totally cool. It’ll re-heat once it goes in the oven.)
6. While the chicken is marinating, preheat your oven to 400F (204C). Turn the music up louder and continue your dance party OR watch an episode of Adventure Time. (Set a timer if you’re prone to forgetting that you’re cooking).
Use your tongs to flip the chicken about half way through the marinating so that both sides get coated in saucy goodness. Be sure to wash your tongs after touching the raw chicken with them!
7. Once your 15 minutes is up and your oven is pre-heated, toss your chicken in the oven and bake until it’s cooked through (~40 minutes).
Flip chicken about half way through the cooking time.
If you want the wings to crisp up a bit, change the setting on the oven to a broil for the last 5 minutes.
8. Serve with cauliflower fried rice or stir fried veggies (recipe below). Spoon some of that sauce over the veggies, and add a little more sriracha if you’re feeling brave.
Sprinkle some sesame seeds and chopped green onion on top, and garnish with lime wedges if you’re trying to impress a special someone – or if you want to feel extra proud of your solo dinner.
9. Dig in!
BONUS RECIPE: We’re not just having chicken wings for dinner. While the chicken is cooking, it’s time to make a stir fry.
Hop on over to Steve’s stir fry recipe and skip to Step 10, or keep reading this:
1. Wash and chop your veggies.
2. Heat up some oil in a pan. Once it’s hot, toss your veggies in.
3. Toss some salt and pepper on those bad boys and stir them up with your spatula.
4. Let them cook for about 10 minutes. (As Steve says, “if it tastes done, it’s done.”)
5. Remove from heat. If you’re so damn good at cooking that you’re finished with the veggies way ahead of the chicken, cover them to keep them hot or turn the heat back on for 1-2 minutes to re-heat after the chicken is done.
Boo-yah! Another Asian inspired meal complete! Although it’s not exactly something you might order from your favorite local take-out joint, it is pretty darn tasty, and you made it yourself! Take a bow.
Are there any foods you miss from your pre-paleo days?
Have you indulged in them since? How did they make you feel?
What is your favorite song to dance/headbang/rock out to in the kitchen?
Let us know in the comments!
P.S. from Steve – Have you checked out the new Nerd Fitness book, Level Up Your Life? No? Head on over to LevelUpYourLife.com to hear all about it and snag some awesome loot!