I have been craving Chinese food for weeks. Sometime I just HAVE to have it! Growing up in San Francisco, Chinese food is just as comforting as meat and potatoes with gravy. And I would have to throw Mexican food in there too. I love them all and sometimes a girl has to do what a girl has to do. Today I made Chinese!
General Tso’s chicken is an American concoction served in one form or another in nearly every Chinese restaurant in the country. At the Naval Academy where my father and one of my brother’s went to college, they call it Admiral Tso’s chicken … maybe I need to rename mine in honor of my family, LOL!
There are nearly as many variations as there are Chinese restaurants, but they all have a similar foundation of soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar with dried red chili peppers and garlic. A little like sweet and sour, but less sweet and not red. The chicken is fried separately and then combined with the other ingredients and sauce so it remains crispy.
You can add just about any vegetable you like or leave them out entirely if you have picky eaters. I chose broccoli for today’s version because it photographs so well, but asparagus, snow peas, snap peas and bok choy all make fantastic options. If you are serving this to children, you can either leave out the Sriracha and chile flakes or add them only to the adult portions.
Most General Tso recipes include dried red chile peppers such as serrano, Thai or arbol that add tremendous heat. I wanted the heat but didn’t have any of these chiles on hand, so I used dried chile flakes and Sriracha. Sriracha adds its own flavor to the sauce and packs a punch. I love the sweet undertones that combine so well with the sugar in this sauce.
This recipe seems to be naturally gluten-free but you will have to check the labels on the soy sauce and chicken stock to make sure they are safe for you. It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to gluten-free cooking!
When the mood strikes you and you too HAVE to have Chinese food, I hope you will look up this recipe and give it a try. And then let me know how it turned out. You know me, I Love to hear from you!!
Have a terrific day my friends!
General Tso’s Chicken
© 2012 Jane Evans Bonacci, The Heritage Cook. All rights reserved.
Inspired by a recipe on allrecipes.com
Yield: about 6 servings
1/2 cup cornstarch
1-1/2 cup chicken broth (check label to make sure it is GF, if needed)
1/4 cup soy sauce (use GF Tamari for gluten-free option)
1/4 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
3 tbsp sherry, champagne, or rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
1-1/2 tsp peeled and minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp Sriracha or other hot chile sauce
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
Vegetables and Garnishes
1 cup broccoli florets, blanched until bright green, drained and patted dry with paper towels
2 tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
1-1/2 cups chopped green onions, tough tops discarded before chopping
2 tbsp dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 cup sliced enoki mushrooms, rinsed and patted dry
Steamed white or brown rice, kept warm
White sesame seeds, for garnish
Make Sauce: In a large bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, broth, soy sauce, wine, and vinegar. Add sugar and whisk until dissolved. Stir in garlic and ginger. Set aside until needed. This can be made a day or two ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Whisk again before using.
Prepare Chicken: In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, pepper, Sriracha, beaten egg, cornstarch, and oil. Whisk until smooth. Add chicken, turning until evenly coated.
In a wok or deep skillet with high sides, heat oil until it reaches 350°F on an instant read thermometer. Fry chicken in small batches, leaving plenty of room between pieces so they can brown on all sides. Cook until crispy and deep golden brown.
Using a slotted spoon or spider, transfer the cooked chicken to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Continue with remaining chicken, adding more oil if needed and bringing it back up to temperature before adding chicken.
The chicken can be fried earlier in the day and stored in the refrigerator. Thirty minutes before preparing meal, set chicken out to come to room temperature.
Finish Dish: Blanch broccoli and pat dry on paper towels. Set next to the stove. Reserve a few of the green onions for garnishing; set aside.
Place 1 tsp oil in a wok or deep skillet over high heat until oil is just below the smoking point. Add scallions and dried chile peppers and stir-fry briefly, keeping them moving constantly for even cooking. Add the broccoli and cook 30 seconds. Add sauce to wok. Then add fried chicken and mushrooms and cook until sauce thickens and all ingredients are evenly coated.
Serve immediately over hot steamed rice. Garnish with reserved green onions and sesame seeds if desired.
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