Couple years ago (or more than a couple maybe) we’ve had phase for Chinese food. We loved going to small oriental restaurants with kind of mix of Chinese, Thai and Korean food served in giant portions for reasonable money. At that time I was trying to mimic our favourite oriental meals, so we could enjoy them more often at home (and having more control over what’s inside). Chinese food have this unique flavour, difficult to achieve at home. And I remember there was a time when people was gossiping about secret ingredient, that was added in this kind of restaurants, that was responsible for this specific almost addictive (!) flavour. I’m taking about monosodium glutamate (MSG). I think now it’s nothing new or surprising, China is known from their weird ideas in terms of food. So I wasn’t surprised when I found this article about Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.
According to this study “Chinese food and soups contain monosodium glutamate (MSG) as the main addictive ingredient. A sensitive individual may suffer from headache, giddiness, sweating, abdominal pain, and urticaria within a few hours of consumption of MSG. Angioedema may be delayed up to 8–16 h after the consumption of MSG and it may persist for 24 h.” Study refers to a case report about a 23-year-old man who was brought to the General Hospital at Mahad, with complaints of difficulty in speaking, inability to swallow saliva, and continuous spitting. “The patient said that he ate only Chinese triple fried rice for dinner the previous night 10 hours earlier. Within an hour of eating, he had giddiness, sweating, and itching all over the body which subsided without any medication. Two hours earlier he had woken up due to difficulty in swallowing and speaking out a few words. He communicated with his family with hand gestures regarding his inability to speak and swallow.” – we can read in the study.
That’s quite interesting.
According to this Korean study from 2014, “most respondents (55.2%) perceived harmful to take excessive amount of MSG contained food. The 37.9% of respondents had experience of MSG symptom complex after eating out. Respondents’ self recognized MSG symptom complex were thirstiness (84.5%), drowsiness (55.7%), weakness (34.5%), nausea (30.2%), tightness (20.7%) and headache (14.7%)“.
The 19.9% of respondents like MSG contained food. The reason for disliking MSG contained food were “bad for health” (66.3%) and “MSG symptom” (33.2%). The reason for liking MSG contained food were “good taste” (83.6%) and “habitual eating” (14.8%).
The most interesting for me here, is it’s addictive property. It’s not only addition that intensifies the taste, but more importantly it’s causing addiction (habit). Maybe that’s why we love Chinese food so much.
I don’t want anyone to be afraid of oriental food, just to be more conscious about the way it works. Or if you will ever feel these kind of symptoms after oriental dinner, you will know why this happens.
But if you’d like to make your own homemade “take away” meal, I recommend this recipe. I have couple of them on my list, but this one I think is the most popular. Great combo of honey and garlic. Juicy pieces of chicken in finger-licking good sticky-garlicky sauce. Yummy! And MSG free! 😉
I was thinking about keto version of this meal, although I have to admitt I haven’t try. But I think honey could be replaced with some kind of keto appropriate substitute, there’s so many of them right now on the market. Potato starch could be substituted with xantan gum. And gluten free soy sauce. But as I said, I haven’t try to make it this way, so if anyone tries, please let me know in the comments how it works.
honey & garlic oriental chicken
- 500 g boneless chicken thighs
- 2-3 brown onions
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 2-3 tbsp honey
- 3-4 tbsp dark soy sauce
- pinch of salt
- about 100ml water
- 2 tsp potato starch or cornstarch
If you have a wok – that’s great! if not, take large skillet and put the heat on pouring some coconut oil. Cut your chicken thighs in stripes. Wok or skillet should be very hot, so the chicken will fry not simmer. Be careful not to burn your self, toss the chicken on the skillet/wok and fry for 5-7 minutes until golden, stirring occasionally.
In the meantime cut onions lengthwise and add to chicken. Keep the heat quite high so the onions will fry and won’t begin to start getting soft and mushy. Fry for another 3-4 minutes. Add pinch of salt (soy sauce is very salty so don’t add too much salt in this step not to oversalt) and chopped garlic.
Right now you can lower the heat, so garlic won’t burn (it will get bitter). Give it a good stir and add honey and soy sauce. Stir again and add water. Bring to boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes, check if chicken is tender.
In a small cup mix potato starch with 2-3 teaspoons of water. Add this mix to your skillet/wok and stir quickly not to get the lumps.
Chicken is actually ready. Just check if its sweet and salty enough, add some honey and salt if needed.
Serve as you like: with rice, noodles or cabbage salad and chilli sauce.