Saturday, January 14, 2012

General Tso's Chicken

When I'm not cooking/baking/thinking about food, I work as a third grade teacher about 20 miles outside of the city. It's a tiny school, so teachers and students have lunch together, "family style". Each table has about one adult to a group of about 7 students. While I've been amazed at the eating habits of our students, (some that come to mind include one child who only wanted to eat peas for lunch, another who alternated bites of meatballs with bites of italian ice), some of my students pay close attention to my habits as well.

I don't think of myself as a strange eater, but my students are often surprised by how often I consume spicy foods. "You put hot sauce in your clam chowder?!" (Try it, I swear it's delicious!) I never thought too much of it, until I started making foods at home that were too spicy for the boyfriend. This recipe falls into this category.

This week's challenge was to cook a Chinese recipe. While I don't expect the recipe to be very authentic, I really liked the chicken's crunch and the consistency of the sauce. Depending on how much chicken you're making, and the size of the pan you're frying in, the recipe can take quite some time. It was a late dinner for us, and only to find out from the boyfriend that it was "too hot to taste" Womp, womp.

I'm sharing my recipe anyways, considering the fact that I made some adaptations to the original recipe (found here), which could again be altered for a lower spice tolerance. I think where I went wrong was since I was using 2.5 times as much chicken, I thought that required 2.5 times the amount of red chili peppers......nope!

General Tso’s Chicken

2.5 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into 1-inch cubes
- 2 cups cornstarch
- 1/3 cup salt
- 6 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- vegetable oil for frying, plus 2 tablespoon for stir-frying
- 10 dried red chilis, roughly chopped
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- Scallions, green parts thinly sliced, for garnish

- 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 3 egg whites

In a large bowl, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, and egg whites. Coat the chopped chicken in the marinade mixture and let sit for 10 minutes.

- 5 oz chicken stock or broth
- 3 tablespoons tomato sauce
- 3 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 3 teaspoons hoisin sauce
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 2 crushed red peppers
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

In a small bowl, combine the chicken stock, tomato sauce, sugar, sweet soy sauce, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, chili powder, peppers, sesame oil, and the 1 teaspoon of cornstarch. Stir until well combined. Set aside.

(1) In a large ziploc bag, mix the cornstarch with salt and pepper. Add the marinated chicken and toss to coat. Shake off any excess before frying.
(2) In a large thick-bottom pan, heat vegetable oil on high until it begins to bubble and sizzle/pop. Turn heat down to medium, and start frying your chicken.
(3) Working in multiple batches, add the first batch of chicken pieces (about 8 per batch) and fry until golden brown on the outside and cooked through, about 3-5 minutes. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all your chicken is cooked.
(4) Turn stove off, discard the oil.
(5) Reheat the pan with 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped dried chilis and garlic, and stir-fry until just fragrant, about 20 seconds.
(6) Pour in the sauce, add remaining cornstarch, and stir until it begins to simmer and thicken, about 1 to 2 minutes.
(7) Add fried chicken to the pan and coat with sauce. Turn off stove, and transfer chicken to a serving dish.
(8) Garnish with chopped scallions. Serve with white rice and vegetables.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds very tasty, I'll have to try this when I feel like Chinese again!