When I think of good Chinese food, I think of sticky sauces and fresh noodles with crisp veggies. I think of subtle and not-so-subtle flavours, of greens and bright peppers and simple but powerful flavours. I think of these, and I get pretty damn hungry.
Unfortunately, many Chinese places in the Western world rely on MSG-packed sauces to bring the stickiness and the flavour. To keep things speedy and cheap, they throw that horrible white powder in there to bring the sauce together and to imbue it with fake flavouring. It makes you think that you can’t produce something more authentic in your own kitchen – and the truth is that you can!
This dish is a vegan take on Sticky Orange Chicken; or rather, the sauce is! Apart from the sweetener, which you can use less of if you prefer, this is a simple and healthy sauce, cooked down to be sticky rather than relying on awful additions to coagulate the juice. It’s easy to make and way more fresh and delicious than additive-packed store-bought sauces.
I’ve also made the noodles a feature in their own right with this recipe. Vermicelli noodles are often just another ingredient, but by infusing them with sesame oil and sesame seeds, as well as stirring in wilted bok choi, the noodles here are fantastic all by themselves. Topped with the orange tofu and veggies, you’ve got a show-stopper of a dish that you can make any night of the week.
enough firm tofu for 2 people; either buy the pre-fried blocks or chop it and fry it in a little oil until crispy
1 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup agave nectar / brown sugar
1 tbsp freshly-grated ginger
1 tbsp soy sauce (remember to use GF soy sauce if you’re GF)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red pepper, roughly diced
1 small head broccoli, chopped
vermicelli noodles (enough for 2)
1-2 tbsps black sesame seeds
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 large handful bok choi leaves, shredded
In a non-stick pan, stir together the orange juice, agave nectar / brown sugar, ginger, soy sauce and the garlic
Cook over a medium heat, uncovered, and allow it to reduce
In another pan, heat some water and throw in the vermicelli noodles
Allow to soften, but not too much, then drain and set aside
In a large frying pan, heat 1 tbsp oil then throw in the red pepper, broccoli and fried tofu
Cook until just tender, then add in the orange sauce and a little salt
Let the sauce cook off and reduce in the hot pan, stirring well
While this is happening, heat 1 tbsp sesame oil in a smaller frying pan
Add in the bok choi and stir fry for 30 seconds
Add in the vermicelli noodles, stir to mix, then add in the sesame seeds, mix, and plate
Top with your sticky orange tofu and vegetables, a few more sesame seeds, and serve!
I loved this so much that I made it 3 times in 3 days last week. You don’t need huge portions of this meal to get nice and satisfied, and it keeps well overnight, so feel free to double the recipe and take some for lunch the next day!