Sunday, July 10, 2011

General Tso's Chicken

General Tso's Chicken. Who doesn't  love this classic. Oh my gosh. My mouth waters just thinking about it. Growing up in Rockford, there was a Chinese take-out place called Happy Wok. "Happy Wok" makes you shake your head a little, but it doesn't hold a candle to Ying's Chinee Takee Outee in Jacksonville. That, my friends, is appalling....but I digress.

G.T.C (General Tso's Chicken) and some fried rice were my absolute favorites. Just fantastic. Surely, there is nothing authentic about the dish, but it's a universally-recognized dish. And, it satisfies a specific craving.

A couple weeks ago I made a slow cooker version of General Tso's Chicken from the blog: A Year of Slow Cooking. It was okay, but was more of an Asian-tasting chicken dish than G.T.C. It certainly didn't satisfy the taste I was looking for. Well, leave it to the Bitten Word boys (what is there not to love from that picture?!). They pitted their favorite Chinese take-out G.T.C against this recipe from Food and Wine. When all was said and done, their recipe beat out the take-out competitor. Home-cooked Chinese beat out restaurant food??? I wanted needed to cook this dish in my kitchen!!!

For such a complex flavor, the preparation was fairly simple. I had all the ingredients on hand. Bonnie's notes:
- Ensure the ingredients are organized as to whether they went in the chicken marinade or the sauce. Some of the same ingredients are used in both.
- The sauce came together faster than I thought it would. That was a welcome surprise!
- Pork is a perfect substitute for the chicken thighs (in the skillet, they cook up the same)
- Be prepared for oil splatter while cooking the meat! It was pretty explosive at times!!
- I would not make this dish for a dinner party because you have to cook the meat in batches as to not crowd the pan.

The result was AWESOME!!!! The taste was very close between this recipe and its restaurant cousin. And, of course, since I cooked it at home, it just felt healthier. I will make this again and again (and again and.....)!

Gen tsos8
Photo courtesy of The Bitten Word

General Tso's Chicken
from The Bitten Word

Total time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4

1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 large egg white
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon Chinese chile-garlic sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for frying
2 tablespoons very finely chopped fresh ginger
2 large garlic cloves, minced
4 scallions, thinly sliced

In a medium bowl, combine the toasted sesame oil with the egg white, 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch. Add the chicken, stirring to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the chicken broth with the chile-garlic sauce, sugar and the remaining 1/4 cup of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.

In a large saucepan, heat the 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the ginger and garlic and cook over high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir the broth mixture, add it to the pan and cook until thickened and glossy, about 3 minutes. Keep the sauce warm over low heat.

In a large, deep skillet, heat 1/2 inch of oil until shimmering. Carefully add the chicken, one piece at a time, and fry over high heat, turning once or twice, until very browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. Beware of oil splatter!!

Drain the chicken on paper towels and immediately add to the sauce along with the scallions. Cook just until coated, about 30 seconds. Serve right away.

No comments: