The other day I went to visit my grandmother and I left with fresh cut roses and kielbasa. I had to look at my stash when I walked back to the car and smirk–that’s about right from a Polish grandmother. Those were in exchange for a rice cooker I gave her. I accepted the kielbasa even though I can’t eat it–it’s not gluten-free. It was for my husband. But the exchange made me realize just how much food barter, exchange and sharing shapes our relationships. After decades of feeding me, my grandmother just can’t accept that I leave empty-handed, or worse, hungry. So I lie. “Yes, I ate just a few minutes before. A most delicious meal.” Yet I can smell the remnant odor of a recently cooked soup and my stomach is growling, but I can’t eat it because I’ll be sick. The sucky side of celiac.
Of course, when I got home I just wanted comfort food. Who doesn’t like orange chicken? And noodles… I remember one day my husband was playing with sauces and making something with sweet chili sauce so I watched and made my own kitchen lab sampling. Really not much can go wrong when you splash some good quality fish sauce, sweet chili sauce and soy (or coconut aminos). Those were left out from what he was cooking and a random orange in the fruit bowl. I searched recipes for orange chicken online, but they were all battered. It’s fine. I can make that gluten-free, but oh, man the work. Really? I’m going to batter chicken in all this goo and then deep fry it? I think you can deep dry a roach with sauce and it might taste good. I don’t think so. Ok. Sometimes I have to have something fried. It is good. Once in a while. But all the extra work…to feel greasy after.
The flavor is definitely in the sauce anyway. Sweet, spicy, salty, citrusy and refreshing. Yea, I like my orange chicken recipe better than most. The sauce, oh the sauce. I was holding my Red Boat fish sauce and had a mini panic-stricken moment when I thought it would slip on out of my wet hand and shatter. I get deeply attached to some foods and this one is pure love. This fish sauce is like a fine wine. It took me three years to find a good quality gluten-free fish sauce, so yes, I’m protective. Plus I have to order it. But this one is the real thing. It’s made in Vietnam and uses “a centuries-old traditional method of slow fermentation in large tropical wood barrels” to achieve a rich and sweet flavor” according to the Red Boat web site. I didn’t know what 40 degree nitrogen sauce meant so I looked it up on their web site. Apparently they also make a 50 degree nitrogen, which contains more protein per liter and has a more complex flavor. Making it seems to be an art and a science. So yea. It’s quite yummy. No, they don’t sponsor me. And I’m so glad I didn’t shatter it. Some people love cars, jewelry. I love fish sauce.
And black rice noodles. They pair so well this dish. They are made from black or forbidden rice. I like that they are not the usual bland noodles. Usually I hate pasta. I always did. When my doctor told me no pasta when I was diagnosed I thought, good. This diet is going to be easy. But these noodles are different. They taste much better than wheat or rice pasta. They are complex carbs, are higher in antioxidants and are a far better substitute for brown rice pasta or whole wheat pasta (for gluten eaters). Black rice is lower in carbs and higher in fiber, which is a good thing and apparently forbidden rice has a story… In ancient times if someone dared to steal a few handfuls of forbidden rice, they would be executed. For some reason I think of that every time I eat it and feel incredibly special. Ages ago it was reserved for emperors. I have to agree. It’s really good stuff.
1 Chicken breast filet, cubed
1/2 Orange, cut in wedges
4 thin slices of orange
3 tsp. Orange zest
2 tsp. Sriracha
2-4 tsp. Sweet chili sauce
1/4 tsp. Garlic powder
1/4 tsp. Ginger powder
1-2 tsp. Fish sauce
3-6 tsp. Coconut aminos or soy sauce
1/2 Red bell pepper, sliced
4 Large shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup Black rice noodles (King Soba)
1.Boil water for black rice noodles then boil noodles for about 4 minutes. When they are fully cooked, rinse them in cold water so they don’t stick together.
2. Oil pan and warm over medium heat. Throw in chicken and mushrooms and coat with coconut aminos. Let simmer for about 4 minutes then squeeze orange juice from the orange wedges.
3. Add garlic and ginger powder and mix. Add Sriracha, sweet chili sauce, orange zest, fish sauce. Then taste and adjust seasoning. Let simmer for 3 more minutes.
4. Add orange slices and mix. Let simmer for 2 minutes, then add peppers. Let simmer till the peppers soften slightly.
5. Pour over black rice pasta and serve.