Low Syn Salt and Pepper Chicken - create this popular Chinese dish in your own home, perfectly Slimming World friendly
One recipe I get many requests for is Salt and Pepper Chicken, so this is my version on the ever so popular Chinese take away dish.
If you were to search salt and pepper chicken right now, the amount of hits you would get is unbelievable. There are so many variations out there, no two recipes are the same. Even if you were to order this dish from the local Chinese Take Away, and then try a different take away the next week, they probably wouldn't taste the same.
The majority of the recipes, use a salt and pepper mix that consists of Pepper, Salt, MSG, Chinese 5 spice and sugar. The salt is dry fried in a hot wok, before being mixed with the other ingredients.
I am not a huge fan of MSG and generally avoid any ingredients that use it (although it can be increasingly difficult to avoid it altogether as it is hidden in somany foods). It is fast becoming an unpopular ingredient to use, and many Chinese restaurants etc will now omit it from their recipes, because of the reactions certain people can have to it.
Wok cooking is a amazing cooking technique and a hard one to learn. Most households nowadays cook on electric hobs, and electric hobs are just not designed for wok cooking. A wok cooker is a specialist piece of equipment - large gas burners with a water tap.
You may be wondering how on earth I know about these, well, my Dad used to own his own business designing, building and installing Wok Cookers for restaurants across the UK and Ireland. I often used to accompany him when he would go out to these restaurants to do an install or maintenance, so got to learn how they would work and get a sneak peak behind the scenes in the kitchens! Often sampling the food too - yum!!
Unfortunately as much as I would love one, I don't own a wok cooker, or a gas hob for that matter (one thing I hope to upgrade to when the current electric cooker decides to stop working) and wok cooking just isn't great on an electric hob, as you do not get the same distribution of heat.
So I compromised for this dish and used my Tefal Actifry for the chicken and small wok for the vegetable part of this dish. An actifry is one of the many air fryers available, there are various different brands to be found.
If you don't have an actifry, I recommend placing the coated chicken on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, spray over the top with spray oil and bake in the oven at 200c or 400f for about 20-30 mins until lightly golden. Then follow the rest of the steps.
Generally Salt and Pepper chicken doesn't have a great deal of vegetables. Mostly onion, chilli (red or green) and spring onion are the chosen ones, but I like to try and get as much speed foods as I can into a dish, and so I also added some finely chopped bell peppers and julienned carrot. I used my fantastic julienne peeler to shred the carrot - if you don't have one of those you can just finely slice into matchsticks.
I didn't dry fry the salt, like is authentically done for Salt and Pepper chicken. Instead, I premixed the salt and pepper mix and then added into the actifry onto the chicken just as it was almost done, before mixing it into the vegetables. This technique worked out really well. Plus because the actifry is constantly rotating that chicken it gets a beautiful golden colour.
All that is then left to decide is what to serve with the Salt and Pepper chicken. I chose some plain steamed rice, but it would be equally good served with noodles or even Syn Free Chips or Roasted Cauliflower Rice for an SP/Original day
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For the chicken:
- 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs (approx 650g/23oz) , trimmed of all visible fat and cut into chunks
- 4 tbs of cornstarch (or tapioca or arrowroot powder)
- salt and black pepper to season
- 1 egg
- spray oil
For the vegetables:
- 1 red onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 red chilli, sliced
- ½ red pepper
- ½ green pepper
- 1 small carrot, julienned (or sliced into thin matchsticks
- ¼ cup (60ml) of chicken stock
- 1 tbs of soy sauce
- 1 tbs or rice vinegar
- 2 spring onions, sliced
For the salt and pepper mix:
- 2 tsp of fine sea salt
- 2 tsp of black pepper
- 2 tsp of Chinese five spice
- 2 tsp of sweetener (I use sukrin:1
For the chicken:
- Add the chicken to a large bowl and season generously with salt and black pepper
- whisk the egg in a separate bowl and pour into the chicken, toss well to coat thoroughly and drain off the excess.
- Gradually sprinkle in the starch tossing as you do, until the chicken is well coated.
- Add to the actifry, spray over the top with spray oil and set for 30 mins, until it is lovely and golden in colour (it may take slightly less or longer).
For the vegetables:
- Spray a frying pan or wok over a medium high heat with spray oil.
- Add the onion and garlic and fry for 1 minute to soften.
- Add the peppers and chilli and gradually add a little stock at a time, continuing tossing as you do, until it is all absorbed.
- Add in carrots,soy sauce and rice vinegar and heat until it evaporates off.
For the salt and pepper mix:
- Mix the salt and pepper mix ingredients together in a bowl
- When the chicken is done, sprinkle with some of the salt and pepper mix and turn back on the actifry, keep doing this with the salt and pepper mix, until it is seasoned to your liking. I don't recommend adding it all in at once, as you may want less depending on your taste.
- Once it is to your desired taste. Add the chicken into the frying pan/wok with the vegetables and toss all together.
- Sprinkle with chopped spring onion
- Serve with your choice of sides.
This recipe is gluten free, dairy free, Slimming World and Weight Watchers friendly
- Extra Easy - 1.5 syns per serving
- Original/SP - 1.5 syns per serving (serve with cauli rice)
- WW Smart Points - 4
- Gluten Free - use gluten free soy sauce
If you don't have an actifry, I recommend placing on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, spray over the top with spray oil once you have done the coating and baking in the oven at 200c or 400f for about 20-30 mins until lightly golden. Then follow the rest of the steps.
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Nutritional information is an estimate and is to be used for informational purposes only. Ingredients can vary greatly from brand to brand and therefore it would be impossible to give accurate information.
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Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1 serving
Amount Per Serving Calories 249Total Fat 6.8gSaturated Fat 1.7gCholesterol 150mgSodium 1882mgCarbohydrates 17.4gFiber 2.1gSugar 3.2gProtein 32.7g