Boxes containing eight four-pound bags of ginger-citrus sauce, each with a refrigerated shelf life of about four months, are shipped to Chili’s restaurants to accompany the chicken. The ingredients in the sauce sound relatively benign: sugar, hoisin sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, chili paste, modified food starch, and orange juice concentrate. But sugar is the dominant nutrient, and salt is listed three times.
About the Boneless Shanghai Wings, he said, “Taking it off the bone is like taking the husk off the nut.” That processing step reduces the need for chewing, making the food faster to consume. Those wings contain a solution of up to 25 percent water, hydrolyzed soy protein, salt, and sodium phosphate. The water is in there for several reasons. First, it bulks up the chicken-the industry calls this “reducing shrinkage.” Second, water is cheaper than chicken breast, so it’s less costly to produce. And finally, water makes the food softer and chewing easier. Before the chicken is shipped from the manufacturing plant, it’s battered, breaded, predusted, and frozen. This creates a salty coating that becomes crispy when fried in fat. “All this stuff absorbs fat, dries out this batter and breading, and replaces water with oil. So now you’ve got batter and breading that is probably 40 percent fat,” according to the food consultant. The crispy coating, which also contains corn-syrup solids, dried yeast, and soybean oil, may represent up to half the volume of the nuggets on the plate.