My husband has been asking me to make Chinese Chicken Balls with plum sauce. He has fond memories of this dish from the one Chinese restaurant in the small town where he grew up. My childhood memories are of a Chinese take-out dish of chicken balls and pineapple in a red coloured sweet sauce. Jim wanted the sauce on the side so that’s what we made. Finding a jar of plum sauce with no gluten containing ingredients was easy.
Tips For Crispy Gluten Free Batter
I have one recipe for gluten free batter so it was the obvious choice for my chicken balls. Over the years I’ve learned a few tricks for deep frying and so my Chinese Chicken Balls were perfect on the first try. Here's what you need to know:
- Letting the batter rest for 30 minutes allows the gluten free flour and starch to fully absorb the liquid.
- The high starch content of most gluten free flour blends creates a tough batter. The combination of brown rice flour and cornstarch creates a crunchiness with a smooth texture.
- Club soda and baking powder help lighten up the batter.
- Dredging the pieces in cornstarch first helps the batter adhere to the meat.
- Double frying creates a sturdy, crunchy, golden crust.
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Deep Frying at Home
Deep frying food at home is a task many people avoid because they think it’s difficult. It’s not difficult; it simply requires a set up. Some people buy a deep fryer as soon as they go gluten free to safely enjoy foods they like at home. I’ve never owned one but it sounds like a great option. Others are raving about the new air-fryer and posting photos of the food they’ve cooked. In my kitchen I’m sticking with my tried and true method of deep-frying in my wok.
You get to decide what works best for you but don’t deprive yourself of anything you want to eat. Whether you deep fry every week or twice a year, a healthy gluten free lifestyle needs to include food that feeds your heart and soul, not just your appetite.
Get The Tools for Deep Frying
I created a set up to deep fry in my wok and I’ve written about it in the recipe description of several posts. For the best step-by-step instructions check out the post for Battered Fish and Chips. If you're ready to deep fry here are some tools to consider.
- Electric deep fryer
- Air fryer
- 13-inch flat bottom wok with long handled mesh strainer
- Long clip-on thermometer
- Baking sheet and cooling rack
Cooking with a seasonal strategy is the best way I know include variety in your diet. As you learn what's in season you can repeat favourite dishes at certain times of the year. There's no reason to ever be bored on a gluten free diet, just chose more dishes.
Once you include holidays into that seasonal strategy your meal rotation will expand again. Holidays are associated with traditional and non-traditional dishes so there is no end to ideas of what to eat. Chinese New Year is what got me thinking of some of my old favourites.
Chinese New Year always falls between January 21 and February 21. I don’t typically have a party to mark the occasion but it’s a good reason to make something different. Whether it's simple or elaborate, pick something that sounds exciting to you and have fun making it.
I’d love to hear in the comments below if you made these Chinese Chicken Balls and what you learned.
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More Recipes - Chinese and Asian Fusion
Chinese Chicken Balls
- 1 cup brown rice flour*
- ½ cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ pepper
- 1 cup club soda use more if needed
COATING CHICKEN BALLS
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces (I got 36 pieces)
- ¼ cup cornstarch for coating
- salt and pepper
- 4-6 cups vegetable oil
- store bought gluten free plum sauce
- Combine brown rice flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
- Add club soda stirring until no lumps remain.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Put cornstarch in shallow bowl.
- Pat chicken dry with paper towel. Season with salt and pepper.
- Dredge in cornstarch shaking off excess. Set onto clean plate.
- Pour oil in wok and heat to 375°F. Prepare paper towel lined plate to set chicken on when removed from oil.
- Prepare a baking sheet with metal rack and preheat oven to 200°F to keep chicken warm before serving.
- Dip chicken into batter letting excess drip back into the bowl. Place into hot oil and fry for 1 minute. Work with 6-8 pieces at a time allowing the oil to come back to 375°F between batches. Repeat until all chicken is cooked once.
- Repeat the whole process. Dip chicken into the batter again, cooking until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to paper towel lined plate.
- Serve immediately with gluten free plum sauce or keep warm in 200°F oven until serving.