Pineapple Chicken

It’s a bummer that I can’t get Chinese take-out any more, especially since I love it so.  Even if I’m willing to consume a big, fat dose of industrial seed oils and white rice, I simply cannot tolerate the gluten in the soy sauce, to say nothing of the MSG that’s probably lurking in there.  (I know a lot of them say they don’t use monosodium glutamate, but it’s been my experience that THEY LIE.)

As a result, I’ve gotten quite good at making the kinds of dishes you get at your typical Chinese take-out place (see here, here, here, and here), and this recipe is a very good one.  The males in my household don’t share my love of cheap, Americanized Chinese, but they both inhaled this, with Beloved going back for seconds and telling me how tasty it was (he was also a bit bummed when I grabbed what was left for my lunch today).

I was a little worried the dish was going to be too sweet, but it really wasn’t; the acidity of the pineapple and the savory chicken – which was just delicious on its own, so juicy and tender – really toned down the sweetness of the sauce and created what was really a lovely, harmonious dish.

The list of ingredients is long, but many of them are for the marinade and sauce, and this really comes together quickly when you begin cooking it.  From the moment I began frying the chicken to the time I plated this for the photo, the time was probably 20 minutes all told, if not less.

This isn’t Whole30 by any stretch of the imagination – I did serve it over white rice, since I was in the mood, but grated cauliflower “rice” would work just as well if you are so inclined, and there’s coconut sugar and gluten-free tamari in it as well.  However, as cheap, Americanized Chinese goes, this is pretty darn clean.

And pretty darn tasty.

Note:  You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand – bell peppers might make it more authentic (well, as authentic as cheap Americanized Chinese can be) – I just happened to have zucchini and onion in the fridge.

Pineapple Chicken

Pineapple Chicken
Serves: 6
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 4 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 1 cup lard or palm oil shortening
  • 2 cups zucchini, unpeeled, thickly sliced and cut into half-moons
  • 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 can (14 oz) pineapple chunks, liquid reserved
  • water
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  1. Whisk the 2 tablespoons tamari, sesame oil, egg, pepper, ginger and 4 tablespoons tapioca flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the cubed chicken and toss to coat the meat. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
  2. Heat the lard or palm oil shortening in a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Drain the marinade from the chicken and discard. Fry the chicken, in batches if necessary, until browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside and keep warm.
  3. Combine the reserved pineapple juice with enough water to make 1 cup. Whisk in the coconut sugar, remaining tapioca flour and tamari until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
  4. Heat the ghee in a wide, shallow sauté pan over medium high heat and stir-fry the onion and zucchini until tender crisp. Add the pineapple and juice mixture to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens enough to coat a spoon, about 2 or 3 minutes.
  5. Add the fried chicken to the sauce in the sauté pan and toss to coat. Serve over steamed jasmine rice or steamed, grated cauliflower.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 459 calories, 22.4g total fat, 149.7mg cholesterol, 367.3mg sodium, 515.9mg potassium, 25.1g carbohydrates, 1.4g fiber, 15.7g sugar, 37.6g protein

8 thoughts on “Pineapple Chicken”

  1. I love cheap Americanized Chinese food but am scared of what goes in it. Even when you ask; is there meat/msg/cat I’m sure they are not telling me the truth. Or maybe they are tell me the truth as they know it. Which isn’t the truth at all. Did that make sense?

  2. But of course ACTUAL Chinese people, particularly those from the North, would pretty much throw up at thought of meat cooked with fruit.

    You are a savant of the authentic so you know this already, I am sure.

  3. Oh my goodness, I love cheap chinese. It’s its own food category, as far as I’m concerned. This looks like a great craving substitute.

  4. I made this last night, and its awesome. I used some zucchini I had, but also an orange pepper and some mushrooms. Worked really well. I also had thighs, not breasts, but they worked wonderfully.

    Just one note, – I couldn’t find coconut sugar anywhere, so I used stevia – found a conversion calculator and it said 1/10 of a cup of stevia would be about equal to 1/4 cup of coconut sugar. Not so much – it came out too sweet, and the taste definitely took over the dish a little.. Next time I think I’ll probably just leave it out entirely. Unless I can find coconut sugar. Or you have a better idea for substitutions. Because I absolutely think there will be a next time for this one.

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