Sunday, July 15, 2012

General Tso Good!

Ok, so I've had some trouble this week with Pinterest recipes I've made not panning out for me.  I've served up some rather bland fried chicken that was supposed to be amazing, I've made some "man pleasin' chicken" that didn't please any of us, and I tried out a blueberry bar recipe that was flat out weird.

So when I came across a baked General Tso chicken recipe on Pinterest, I knew I had to give it a shot regardless of my recent culinary failures.

Yeah, that's kind of what I had to do through this recipe, continue to tell myself that the many steps were nothing to worry about...and guess what???

They weren't anything to worry about!

This is not a 30-minute meal, and if you don't have the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, chili paste, ginger, garlic, or half a dozen other ingredients, it may run up your grocery bill.

However, if you're looking for a recipe that will allow you to involve your family members, or, if you are simply looking to eat a healthy version of an American-Asian classic, then this is worth trying.

I served this General Tso Chicken with jasmine rice and a cucumber salad.  It was a hit with the fam!

Baked General Tso Chicken

For the chicken:

3 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts; pounded and cut into strips or chunks
2 eggs, 1/4 cup water, whisked together
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour (rice flour or unbleached flour works)
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. red pepper
2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. ground ginger (don't skimp here!)

For the sauce:

4 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
4 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp. toasted sesame seed oil
2 tbsp. hot chili paste (not Sriracha)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cornstarch
3 cloves minced garlic (FRESH!)
3 tbsp. freshly grated ginger
(you may need an additional 1 tsp. cornstarch in 1 tbsp. water, so keep handy)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 375.  Line a large cookie sheet with non-stick foil, drizzling a little olive oil onto the foil.  Take chicken pieces and dredge through egg mixture, then flour mixture. Space pieces on foil.  Drizzle a little more oil on top, then bake for 30 minutes, turning halfway through.  

While chicken is cooking, prepare sauce.  Add soy sauce through ginger into a small bowl and whisk well.   

Add the sugar and 1/4 cup water into non-stick saucepan.  Heat on medium until sugar water turns into a caramel-colored sauce. STIR CONTINUOUSLY.

The recipe I followed said to keep stirring until it smells like a caramel sauce.  Yeah, I couldn't smell it, but the bubbles on the edge of the pan were sticky and caramel-like.  When this happens, turn off heat. Whisk your soy sauce/chili mixture one more time to make sure the cornstarch didn't separate, then very slowly, add it to the caramel sauce.  It can foam up and burn you, so please use caution.  Place back on heat, whisking all the while, until it thickens.  If this does not happen within the first two minutes or so, add the 1 tsp. to 1 tbsp. water mixture and it will thicken quickly.

When chicken is done cooking, ladle sauce over the chicken pieces while they are still on the sheet.  Serve over rice and with a side cucumber salad.  

Cucumber Salad

1-2 English cucumbers, washed, and cut as desired
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 packet Ideal sweetener or 1 tsp. sugar


Slice cucumber as desired.  Whisk salt through sweetener in a serving bowl.  Add cucumbers, tossing them to coat, and then refrigerate until dinner is ready.  Enjoy!

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