Although I’m not an advocate of buying an ingredient that will only be used for one recipe, I recently broke this unwritten rule when trying a new dish. It is spring - the time things start coming back to life - so why not try something new?

The ingredient wasn’t too extravagant. The recipe called for tamari sauce. Technically, tamari is a type of soy sauce. What differentiates the two are the ingredients and processing that takes place to make the sauce.

Traditional soy sauce is made using four main ingredients: soybeans, water, salt and wheat. The ingredients are fermented for several months and finally the mixture is pressed to extract the liquid.

Tamari is a thicker and darker sauce. It is richer in flavor than traditional soy sauce. Tamari sauce is the byproduct of making miso. Unlike soy sauce, tamari does not contain wheat, making it a great condiment for gluten free recipes.

Besides Asian dishes, tamari can be used for seasoning in soups, stews, roasts, sauces. It can also be used in dressings and marinades. Start by adding a small amount to your dishes instead of soy or Worcestershire sauce, and then get creative and experiment with other dishes.

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It’s spring, so why not stir things up by trying something new? Adding a dash of tamari to your dishes adds a splash of a salty, rich flavor to foods. So pick up a bottle instead of soy sauce and jazz up your dishes. Happy Eating.

Tamari sauce is just one ingredient that adds a splash of flavor to Sticky Chicken. Donna Evans / Echo Journal Correspondent
Tamari sauce is just one ingredient that adds a splash of flavor to Sticky Chicken. Donna Evans / Echo Journal CorrespondentDonna Evans / Echo Journal Correspondent

Sticky Chicken

  • ½ cup toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange zest
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 6 tablespoons tamari sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1-2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced; use 2 if you like more onion flavor
  • 8 ounces baby carrots
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

In a large bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, orange zest, orange juice, tamari, lime juice, ginger, garlic and honey to combine. Add the chicken and onions and toss to coat. Place in the refrigerator. Marinate for at least 2 hours; it can be left in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the carrots in the bottom of a baking dish. Place the onions on top of the carrots and then arrange the chicken skin side up on top of the onions. Pour ½ cup of the marinade over the chicken. Lightly sprinkle the paprika over the top of the chicken. Discard the rest of the marinade.

Roast the chicken, turning the pan once halfway through. Bake until the skin is browned and crisp and the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 165 degrees. Depending on your oven, this can take 40 minutes or up to 60 minutes.

Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

Chicken:

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

Orange sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon tamari sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons jarred garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon hot sauce

For serving:

  • 2 cups cooked white rice

For the chicken:

Mix the cornstarch, salt and pepper together in a gallon-sized zip-type bag or a medium sized sealable container. Add the chicken pieces, seal the bag (or place the lid on the container) and shake until the chicken is well-coated.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken, just 10 to 12 pieces at a time. Do not overcrowd the chicken or it will not cook properly. Cook 2 minutes per side. The chicken may not brown as you would expect. But the cornstarch coating will make the chicken crisp and dry.

Place the chicken in a 4-quart slow cooker and repeat the cooking process with the remaining pieces of chicken.

To make the sauce: Place all the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until the ingredients are well combined. Pour over the chicken.

Cook over low or medium heat until the chicken reaches 165 degrees. This will take approximately 1 1/2 hours on the medium setting or 2 to 3 hours on the low setting.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a bowl. Pour the sauce into a large skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the sauce is reduced by about half and becomes slightly thickened. This will take about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the chicken back to the sauce and lightly toss so the pieces are again coated with sauce.

Place a half cup rice on a plate. Top with the chicken and sauce.