♥ Crispy fried breaded 'chicken' with a soy sauce gravy and toasted almonds ♥
You know what's winning? Having a massive craving for this crispy almond chicken you used to get from your local Chinese takeaway in Canada ages ago and instantly veganizing it to perfection. Word. I simply cannot get over how perfect this turned out, it really is just as I remembered! I really have no idea what made me think of this dish I used to love so much, but I did, and had to make it then and there.
So I had a search online and discovered that it's actually quite a uniquely Canadian-Chinese dish. Sometimes just called 'Crispy Almond Chicken' or 'Soo Guy' it is usually a chicken breast, either breaded or battered, fried and served sliced on a bed of shredded lettuce with a brown gravy and toasted almonds. Back home when we would order Chinese this was always what I looked forward to the most. So much so that my mom used to have to buy two because despite ordering a large selection of food I would pretty much eat just the crispy fried almond chicken. Yeah...she's surprised I'm now vegan too.
Despite there not really being a lot of recipes out there for this I got the general idea: fried breaded chicken, gravy - probably soy sauce based, lettuce and toasted almonds. As I mentioned in the Vegan Chicken, Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Sausage Roll post I have finally found ready made vegan chicken I love - Fry's chicken strips and thought to base this on those. Similarly to the rolls I first lightly boiled the frozen chicken to defrost, soften and to make a chicken stock which I then used to make the gravy.
As for the breading part - this I am most excited about. I have been struggling to get breaded items to have a really crispy coating that does not fall apart whilst frying without eggs. For these I tossed the lightly boiled chicken strips in cornflour, then my homemade 'egg' mixture of cornflour, baking powder, xanthan gum, water and vegetable oil then into the breadcrumbs. Once fried these came out perfect! Thick, super crispy breadcrumb coating that does not fall apart. I really can't wait to try this with other foods too.
Without the gravy - look how crispy!!
Altogether this was such a win. I cannot convey to you how much this reminded me of that dish I used to love so much. The best part is having that gravy soak into the crispy breaded coating - heaven!
Crispy Fried Almond Chicken with Gravy (Soo Guy) - serves 2 as a side
50g Fry's chicken style strips, or similar, frozen
1 Tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp vegetable oil
50 ml water
*OR just some unsweetened soy yogurt
25g breadcrumbs, I like to use freshly made from stale bread here, or panko.
2 Tbsp chopped almonds
extra cornflour to coat
shredded lettuce to serve
vegetable oil to fry
2 Tbsp cornflour
3 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp vegan butter
4 tsp soy sauce
1 1/2 cups water
* 2014 EDIT - I've recently discovered that dipping the "chicken" into unsweetened soy yogurt after some cornflour works just as well as my homemade egg replacer and is, less face it - easier!
First toast the chopped almonds in a wok until lightly golden and fragrant. Set aside and give the wok a wipe with a dry towel as you'll be using it to fry later.
In a small saucepan bring the 1 1/2 cups of water for the sauce to the boil. Add the frozen chicken strips and lightly boil with the lid on for 3 minutes. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon or a couple of forks and drain on a clean kitchen towel. Do not dump the water! Add the vegan butter and soy sauce to the chicken stock and heat until the butter melts then turn off the heat. In another saucepan mix the cornstarch with 3 Tbsp water until smooth then slowly add the chicken soy stock until all is added. Heat and stir until thick and glossy. Check seasoning, turn off heat and set aside.
In a small bowl add the cornflour, baking powder and xanthan gum and whisk. Add the water and vegetable oil and whisk really well until it is smooth and really thick. Toss the drained chicken strips into some more cornflour, then coat them in the batter (or some unsweetened soy yogurt) then into the breadcrumbs. It's easiest to have one hand for the batter and the other hand for the breadcrumbs here. Keep going until all the strips are coated and place them on a plate ready to fry.
Heat about an inch or two of vegetable oil in the wok you used to toast the almonds until it is very hot. Gently place the breaded chicken into the oil and fry until crisp and golden on both sides. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all the chicken is fried.
Reheat the gravy and give it a whisk- if it has thickened too much, you can also add a bit more water. Place some shredded lettuce on a plate, top with the fried chicken then spoon over the gravy generously. Sprinkle over the toasted almonds and serve immediately. These are nice on their own, with a bowl of rice or as part of a larger Chinese style buffet.
The only photo I got of them cut open, too busy eating!!
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