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A picture is worth a thousand words.

August 22, 2010

But unfortunately, not everything photographs well. 😦

This is one of those cases where you’ll have to put your faith in a food blogger you may not have even met.  You’re going to have to take the words (maybe less than a thousand) but trust me… this is worth it.

I haven’t attempted making much Chinese food at home because…well, it never turns out and intimidates me.  What possessed me to think this time would be different?  I’m not entirely sure.  I think I saw the recipe originally came from Proceed with Caution and was adapted by Katie over at Good Things Catered.  Neither of those ladies have ever steered me wrong, so both of them?  I thought this recipe had a good chance. 🙂

Wow… what a difference between this and other attempts!  This was AWESOME.  Both of us thought the flavors were spot-on; I thought the sauce was comparable to our favorite Asian restaurant.  Mr. Cheesehead said it was almost refreshing…it was a light dish with such fresh flavors.  He did add that once you got past the chicken not being crispy (read: breaded & deep-fried) like the General Tso’s we’ve had, it was great.  Definitely a “make again” or even weeknight meal.

(Side note: maybe it’s supposed to be a bit crispier, but I had so much chicken and should’ve used a bigger pan. To get all the chicken in the pan, there wasn’t enough surface (or oil) for every little bit of chicken.)

This is a big statement for me (and now I fear I’ll have jinxed myself should I attempt this), but I’d even make this for guests.  It’s not the prettiest meal, but the flavors?!  OMG, delicious.  Plus my kitchen smelled of fresh ginger and garlic for hours… it was fantastic!

I made two minor changes to Katie’s recipe, which probably made it slightly less “lighter”.  I made the sauce a few hours before dinner and threw the chicken in to marinade until I cooked it.  (Because there wasn’t much sauce left with the chicken, I made about an extra half recipe of just the sauce and added it during cooking like Katie’s recipe.  I encourage you to go check out her original version and decide for yourself if you want to marinade it or not.)

I also upped the amount of red pepper flakes.  Next time, I’ll add even more because it was just spicy enough for us to recognize there was a little heat potential somewhere in there, but not really enough to make it outright spicy.

Lighter General Tso’s Chicken

Source: adaptation from Good Things Catered

  • 1 T. cornstarch
  • 1/2 c. cold water
  • 7 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 3 1/2 t. fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3 T. light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 1/2 T. reduced-sodium soy sauce (we used Kikkoman’s because I’m not a fan of the taste of La Choy’s)
  • 1  t. red pepper flakes
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into pieces (I did more strip-like pieces)
  • 1 t. sesame oil
  • 1 T. Canola oil
  • Fresh steamed rice or vegetables, for serving (we planned on doing broccoli, but forgot)

Mix together garlic, ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes.  Toss chicken pieces with 1/2-3/4 of the sauce and refrigerate for at least an hour.  Refrigerate remaining sauce for cooking.

When ready to cook, dissolve cornstarch in water until smooth.  Add reserved sauce and stir to combine.

In large skillet (or wok) over medium heat, heat oils until almost smoking.  (This instruction threw me… how would I know when it was almost smoking unless it began smoking?  So I heated the oils until the pan was very hot and the oils seemed thin and slid around the pan fluidly.)

Add chicken to hot oil carefully (it will splatter) and cook until bottom side is cooked through.  Stir chicken pieces to cook the other side.

Increase to almost high heat and add cornstarch-reserved sauce mixture.  Allow to finish cooking until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened.  Remove from heat and let sit; sauce will continue to thicken.  (Looking back, I increased the amount of the sauce but not the amount of cornstarch so my sauce didn’t thicken much at the final cooking step.  It did thicken after I removed the pan from the heat and let it sit for a few minutes.  It was fine since we ate it over rice.) 


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Susie Duffy permalink
    August 23, 2010 2:33 pm

    Wow Paula – I have only just discovered your blog, it is fantastic. You are such an inspiration to would-be cooks everywhere! I may fight with Tony about the number of garlic cloves (he’ll say ‘bring ’em on’ and I’ll say ‘oh no, fewer please, cos I work open-plan and my colleagues will cry’), but we will definitely try this one. Keep up the excellent work – your posts are so well-written and witty, and very informative too. Someone really should start paying you to do this full-time!

    • August 23, 2010 2:39 pm

      Thank you, Susie! I will point out that I actually increased the amount of garlic as I’m in the same camp as Tony – I’ll always err on the side of more garlic! 🙂

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