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Hakka Chili Chicken

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  • Hakka Chili Chicken

    Chili Chicken (a Hakka dish) is a Toronto institution. Few people have lived or worked in the suburbs of the largest city in Canada and not had Chili Chicken delivered to their home or office. Usually, we are introduced to it as teenagers by friends who are in the know, and we become addicted shortly thereafter. The dish can come from only one of a small handful of popular restaurants, known by name (and quality) to any Chili Chicken connoisseur.

    Here is a photo of the dish from a popular area restaurant:
    Chili Chicken | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    Here is another photo of Chili Chicken over rice:

    The problem? Restaurant Chili Chicken uses wheat and corn ingredients, sugar, and high-PUFA frying oil. It also usually includes MSG.

    This is my take on Hakka Chili Chicken. It can be made either low carb or moderate carb primal. It is completely gluten free, and doesn't include corn.

    6-8 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs.
    1-2 Large Onions (I used Sweet Onions, but you can use another type for a sharper taste)
    1 Bulb of Garlic (you can use more if you like a lot of garlic, less if you prefer less garlic)
    2" of Ginger Root (if you like just a hint of ginger, reduce to 1")
    1 tsp. Cumin
    1 tsp. Coriander
    Salt & Pepper (to taste)
    Cooking Oil (I used Olive Oil, but you could use anything... Virgin Coconut may not be good)
    1-2 tsp. Crushed Red Chili Peppers (or use chopped fresh Green Chilis, adjust to taste)
    1 Cup of Bone Broth (you can substitute water if you must)
    1/2 Cup of Tamari (I use San-J brand, gluten free and organic... For a less salty gravy, choose the reduced sodium Tamari)
    Optional Ingredients:
    Rice Flour (enough to dust your chicken pieces before frying)
    Potato starch (to thicken the gravy, Xanthan Gum will work to remain low carb)
    Basmati Rice (Broccoli or Cauliflower is also a good base if you're staying low carb)


    - Cut chicken thighs into 2-bite pieces. Salt and pepper. Let sit for 1-2 hours, or longer.
    - Chop onions, either into pieces or leaving them as long threads (as I prefer).
    - Finely chop garlic and ginger.
    - Coat chicken pieces in rice flour (if using) and deep fry (as I did) or fry in a pan. Set aside.
    - Cook onions in a bit of oil until any degree of brown, up to caramelized (I am less patient).
    - While onions are cooking, pre-mix your thickener (either Potato Starch and water 1:1 or Xanthan Gum as per directions for thickening gravy) and set aside.
    - Add garlic, ginger, Cumin, and Coriander to the onions in the pan, and fry a bit more.
    - Add chili pepper (be conservative, you can always add more later!)
    - Add your pre-fried chicken, and stir around a bit to mix pan contents and heat chicken.
    - when sufficiently mixed, push the pan contents to the edge of the pan, leaving a crater in the middle.
    - Pour Bone Broth and Tamari into the crater, and let heat up.
    - Remove from heat, add Potato Starch (or Xanthan Gum) mixture to thicken as desired.
    - When a gravy has formed in the crater, stir entire pan contents to coat.
    - Serve over/alongside Basmati Rice, Broccoli, or Cauliflower. Leftovers are even better than fresh.

    Note that I try and remain as low carb as possibe, as often as possible. Yet I determined that, for me, the rice flour on the chicken pieces is necessary for the meal. So little sticks to the meat, and though I feel the dish would be good without it, it would possibly not be close enough to fast food Chili Chicken texture to satisfy me. Similarly, the Potato Starch thickens the gravy just right... Xanthan Gum, while it will work, is not exactly the right texture. As written, the recipe is still quite low carb. Maybe 1/4 cup of flour sticks to the chicken pieces, and about 1 Tbsp. of Potato Starch is more than enough to thicken. So not a huge amount of carbs.

    You will also note that there is a lot of leeway on ingredient amounts. This is because if you are crazy about garlic or ginger, you can use more. Similarly, if you like a subtler flavour, you can use less. You can even make the dish saucier or less saucy depending on how much Bone Broth you want to include. There is a ton of flexibility, like with curry.

    Enjoy! Feel free to ask any questions.
    Last edited by GrokON; 04-07-2012, 05:17 PM.
    5'6" Female, 29 Years Old, 260/195/120

    "Discipline is choosing between what you want NOW, and what you want MOST!"