When I first met DH, he told me that his favorite cuisine was Chinese. Doh. I’ve never had good luck in Chinese restaurants, what with the preponderance of soy sauce, oyster sauce, and other wheat contaminated goodies, not to mention the perils of a glutenous wok and shared frying oil. Some people seem to have better luck than me- ordering plain steamed vegetables or plain things prepared in a thickened clear sauce… but you know, I’d rather make something myself at home that is more flavorful, and know it is perfectly safe. I have recently discovered the joys of P.F. Chang for Chinese-American food… They have a gluten-free menu and are “Trained” in the way of gluten-free. They’ve only glutened me once, which considering how many times we’ve been is pretty good, but their offerings are pretty non-veg protein oriented. I always order things without the chicken, and go pescatarian for a night when I go there. For a true veg. experience the snap peas are pretty tasty and the spinach isn’t bad, if a little bland. ANYWAY, Chinese restaurants are nice, if you can find one you trust to make a true gluten-free dish, but the safest, best way to enjoy gluten-free Chinese food is still in the comfort of your own home. I’ve been playing with this book “All you can eat: Chinese and Thai Cooking”- it isn’t vegetarian, and it certainly isn’t written with the gluten-free reader in mind, but it does have relatively easy recipes that approximate Chinese-American restaurant favorites, and presumably Thai-American restaurant favorites as well. I substitute tofu for the non-veg protein and add extra seasonings to the sauces and end up with dishes that make both me and DH pretty darned happy. It might not be authentic Chinese food, but it IS authentic Chinese-American restaurant food, and sometimes that’s all this not-so-picky gluten-free-veg-girl wants!
*Note: I know some aren’t huge fans of sugar OR cornstarch. The sugar can easily be subbed out with honey or maple syrup (for a true vegan conversion), but cornstarch is just one of those magic ingredients that makes this dish all the more authentically “restaurant-esque” and makes DH’s heart pitter patter faster. *shrug* If you prefer, you could try arrowroot starch, potato starch (although this will result in a different texture) or okara… but for us, it’s 5 tsp. of cornstarch all the way, baby! ;)
Explore all of Book of Yum’s Chinese Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes
And don’t forget this poor little unloved post about vegetarian hot and sour Chinese soup. It may not be the prettiest dish in the world, but it was darned tasty!
Orange Sauce Tofu with Baby Bok Choy
1 firm tofu package in water (around 14 oz)
2 tbsp sherry
1 egg white
5 teaspoons cornstarch, divided
1/4 cup water
5 teaspoons orange juice
2 tsp. wheat free tamari (san-j)
1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp chili garlic paste (vietnamese)
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 white portion of a green onion (cut into two pieces and halved) and/or 1 or two halved, peeled garlic cloves
Slice your tofu in two or three horizontal slabs and press in a towel up to thirty minutes. Cut into cubes OR cut each slab in half to make a tofu “Steak”. Combine your sherry, egg white. Last, add three teaspoons of cornstarch to the sherry and egg white mixture. Place your tofu in a dish with high sides and marinate it in the sherry, egg, cornstarch mixture for fifteen minutes or so.
Combine your sauce ingredients (water through sesame oil) and add two teaspoons of cornstarch to the sauce. (You may want to add a small amount of liquid to the cornstarch, whisk it, and then add it to the sauce).
Heat your oil in a wok and add the white portion from one green onion or garlic cloves to the oil and let them cook, seasoning the oil. When the garlic clove turns light brown (don’t let it burn), remove it from the oil. When the green onion wilts, remove it from the oil. Check your wok oil heat. Tendrils of white smoke coming from the wok are a sign that it is very hot, and is a good thing, as long as it doesn’t turn into clouds of black smoke or a small fire.
Ready? Ok! Make sure all your ingredients are close at hand and that you have cooking chopsticks or a wooden stick for stirring.
Throw in your minced ginger and garlic and, moving it around quickly, let it release its fragrance but BEFORE it burns, add your marinated tofu (without the marinade). Let it brown on each side, turning as needed, until golden brown. Then push it up the sides of your wok slightly, add and heat a tsp. more of oil if needed and throw in your baby bok choy, stir frying until bok choy loses the edge of its crunch but before it gets mushy. Halfway through this process, toss in your green onion white bits. When the bok choy looks good, toss in the green portion of your green onion (to taste) and then create a well in the middle of your wok. Stir your sauce one more time and then pour into the well space in your wok. Let the sauce begin to thicken and then fold through the dish so that all your ingredients are covered in yummy sauce. Remove from heat and serve with rice!