Thursday, October 6, 2011

Recipe: General Tso's Chicken

I promised it and here it is, General Tso's Chicken with the recipe I use to make it.  I cannot take credit for the recipe as it's been floating around the internet for years as the General Tso's Chicken (Modified) Recipe.  It really takes the best elements of the different General Tso recipes and combines them.  The result is something akin to the original incarnation of the recipe that was created around 1973 for a Chinese Restaurant in New York.  It is a non-traditional recipe, meant instead to capture the highlights of Hunan Cooking.  Hunan cooking is inherently spicy and uses fresh ingredients.

General Tso's Chicken

15-20oz Boneless, Skinless Chicken cut into 1" chunks

2 Egg Whites
2T Cornstarch
2T Soy Sauce
4T Sugar
4T Soy Sauce
3T Rice Vinegar
4T Cornstarch
1/2C Chicken Stock
2 Scallions Cut up
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Thai Finger Peppers, Sliced Thin *(Or Serrano peppers)
1T Ginger, Grated
1T Orange Peel, Fresh Grated (optional)

Sesame Oil
Broccoli, 1 Head Cut into Florets and steamed

First cut up your chicken and mix well with the marinade ingredients.  Set in fridge for 4 hours.  Mix ingredients for sauce and set aside.  Prep all Ingredients and set aside so they are ready when you need them.  Heat Vegetable oil in wok and dredge chicken in Cornstarch *(see notes) a few pieces at a time.  Deep fry in oil until golden brown and crispy and set aside on paper towel to drain.  Continue until all chicken is cooked.  Reserve 4T oil and toss the rest.  Clean wok and dry then reheat and add the reserved oil.  When hot, add the scallions, garlic, ginger, orange peel and hot peppers, stir fry quickly for a minute then add in chicken, steamed broccoli and sauce mixture.  Keep stirring until sauce is thick and everything is well coated then remove from heat and drizzle a moderate amount of sesame oil over it and stir.  Service with steamed brown rice.

*Notes:  I could not find thai peppers here in Jacksonville so I used dried Kung Pao peppers.  If using dried peppers add to reserved oil before heating it up and just leave them in the finished dish. The heat will not be as hot as using fresh peppers but it's still divine.  The original recipe called for coating the chicken in Water Chestnut Flour, however it's impossible to find anymore.  Rice flour is an excellent alternative and the taste is the same.  If using Rice Flour make sure you keep an eye on the chicken as it cooks, it will brown very quickly.

I steam the broccoli over the rice as it's cooking.  Don't overcook the broccoli as it will get finished when you add it to the wok.  Oh and a final word, use real brown rice, not instant, not microwave.  It really saves you no time to use the quick stuff and the loss in nutrients makes it not worth the time saved.

Final Tidbit: Ever wonder the difference between Hunan and Szechuan?  Hunan uses fresh ingredients and Szechuan uses more dried ingredients (hot peppers, mushrooms, etc.)  These of course are the most popular of the Chinese cooking schools, the others being Pekin, Cantonese, Mandarin/Mongolian, and the least well known, Anhui.  If I missed any let me know, I'm not perfect.
Yield, 4 Servings. Includes Rice 1C cooked person

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