We had a busy weekend including a Groundhog Day pizza party with friends and a Super Bowl party with more friends. While I brought monster cookie dough dip to the Super Bowl party like a proper bad influence, I did manage to navigate both events this weekend without having to go up a pant size. Moderation was a good friend this weekend. Even still, I like to know that I have lighter options available. I’ve said before that there’s only so far I’m willing to go to lighten up a recipe. I’m not going to replace real ingredients with fake, processed stuff to save calories but I will skip a step like frying if I can get a similar result using another method. I’ll also usually skip Chinese takeout in favor of eating something homemade, but I find that often I can make my favorite takeout dishes right at home.
General Tso’s Chicken, a popular dish on American Chinese restaurant menus, is actually believed to have been invented in New York during the 1970’s. If you’re not familiar with it, it consists of deep-fried chicken pieces mixed with a spicy and slightly sweet sauce. The sauce tends to be more toward the spicy side, and depending on the restaurant it’s served with dried whole red chili peppers that most people discard before eating this. This version skips the deep-frying and dried peppers and is every bit as great as any I’ve had from a restaurant. It doesn’t hurt that because the chicken is baked instead of fried, there’s no guilt involved. The most difficult part of this at-home version is watching the sauce carefully. Sugar gets very hot and can quickly become the culinary equivalent of napalm if you don’t handle it with care. Watch the sugar mixture constantly so it doesn’t burn and pour in the rest of the sauce mixture all at once but carefully to avoid splatters. I made the recipe as stated below and didn’t find it to be all that spicy so if you like it really hot, add more chili paste or sauce.
Baked General Tso’s Chicken
for the chicken:
- 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts (I used breasts), cut in strips
- 1 egg, whisked with 2 Tbsp. water to make an egg wash
- 1 C. flour
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- 3 Tbsp. ground ginger
- 2 tsp. salt
for the sauce:
- 4 Tbsp. light soy sauce
- 4 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
- ¼ C. water
- 2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seed oil
- 2 Tbsp. hot chilli paste or sauce (use more or less to taste)
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 3 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger
- 1/2 C. sugar
- 2 Tbsp. water
Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or lightly oil with olive oil.
To make the chicken combine the flour, black pepper, cayenne pepper, ground ginger, and salt.
Dip the chicken pieces in the egg wash, then dredge them in the flour mixture and place them on the baking sheet.
Spray with more non-stick cooking spray or lightly drizzle with more olive oil and bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping the pieces halfway through.
Prepare the sauce while the chicken bakes (do not walk away from the sauce, it can get very hot and burn easily).
Mix together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, 1/4 C. water, sesame oil, chili paste or sauce, salt, cornstarch, garlic, and grated ginger.
In a small saucepan, boil together the sugar and 2 Tbso. water over medium heat.
WATCH CONSTANTLY until the mixture starts to turn a light amber color and starts to smell like caramel.
Give the soy sauce mixture a quick stir to re-combine the ingredients and carefully add it all at once to the caramel mixture. The mixture may foam up for a few seconds, and will be very hot.
Simmer for a few minutes, then remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes.
Toss the sauce with the cooked chicken pieces, and serve hot.
Makes 6 servings.
Source: Rock Recipes