Sunday, February 22, 2015

General Tso's Chicken

In honor of the Chinese New Year, I whipped up General Tso's chicken to warm up my heart and soul on a recent freezing Friday night. While the traditional cooking method calls for deep frying the chicken in vegetable oil, I baked it for a lower fat version that tastes anything but.

I paired it with Gwyneth Paltrow's (amazing) Salad with carrot and ginger dressing to start and Food & Wine's Kung Pao brussel sprouts. The only thing missing was fortune cookies. 



Recipe for General Tso's Chicken after the break 

PC: CookingClassy, Goop, Food & Wine

General Tso’s Chicken

1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
3 Tbsp packed light-brown sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into 1-inch pieces
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 green onions, sliced, greens and whites divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste

3 egg whites
1 1/2 cups cornstarch
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
Salt and white or black pepper, as desired
4 cups vegetable oil, for frying

In a mixing bowl, whisk together hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, 2 Tbsp cornstarch and the chicken broth. Place chicken in a large Ziploc bag and pour 6 Tbsp of the hoisin mixture over chicken, seal bag and allow to marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil over medium heat. Once hot, add chopped whites of green onions, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and saute 1 minute. Add 2 cups of hoisin sauce mixture (reserve remaining little bit) to skillet, season with salt and white pepper to taste (you may not even need salt) and cook, stirring constantly until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat, cover with lid.

In a shallow dish, vigorously whisk egg whites until foamy, set aside. In a separate shallow dish, whisk together cornstarch, flour and baking soda, then add remaining hoisin sauce mixture and stir until mixture resembles coarse meal.

You have two options for baking it:

1) Lower Fat Version (what I did):

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Coat the chicken in egg and then the cornstarch mix. Heat the 3 tbsp vegetable oil in a large skillet and cook the chicken in two batches until browned (the chicken will not be fully cooked through). Place the chicken in a greased 9x13 pryex. Bake for thirty minutes turning half way through. Check for doneness.  Toss to coat with sauce (that should be warm).  Serve with brown or fried rice. 

Traditional recipe:
Heat 4 cups oil in a dutch oven over medium heat to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, remove chicken from refrigerator and remove chicken from marinade, shaking of excess marinade, and transfer to a large plate lined with several paper towels. Cover with more paper towels and pat dry. Place half of the chicken into the egg whites and toss to coat, then lift and allow excess to run off and immediately transfer to cornstarch mixture. Toss in cornstarch mixture (separating pieces as they stick together or working with just a few at a time) to evenly coat then transfer to a plate and repeat coating process with remaining chicken. Fry coated chicken in batches in hot oil (I did three batches for all of the chicken, just so it's not overcrowded and dropping the oil temperature), until chicken is golden brown and has cooked through, about 3 - 4 minutes, turning chicken once during frying. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain and repeat frying process with remaining chicken.

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