I used to be the first one to suggest we get Chinese take-out, but in the last year or so I've found that I often feel like crap after I eat it. I don't know whether it's the MSG or the deep-fried-ness or just the fact that I tend to eat more of it than I should, but it's definitely not my first choice these days. For the Super Bowl, Andy and the kids wanted it, so I went along with the idea, but I tried not to go overboard. I didn't have any appetizers, just some veggie lo mein and a few scoops of General Tso's Chicken (or, as it's usually known in the Boston area, General Gau's chicken*). I felt fine afterward, so that makes me think there's hope.
It also made me think that it was a good time to try making my own General's Tso's Chicken, albeit a version that is not heavily breaded and deep-fried. I made it tonight and it was awesome. We ate every last morsel.
General Tso's Chicken
1½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 large egg white
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon soy sauce, divided use
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons cornstarch, divided use
1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch pieces (This was a bit more work than I expected—lots of little bits of fat to cut off and tricky to cut into the right size pieces.)
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon Chinese chile-garlic sauce (I used a scant teaspoon of sriracha.)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for frying
2 tablespoons very finely chopped fresh ginger
2 large garlic cloves, minced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
Steamed broccoli and white rice, for serving
In a medium bowl, combine the toasted sesame oil with the egg white, 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, and ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch. (This was the weirdest mixture ever—I was sure I had done something wrong! It looked like peanut dipping sauce for satay and had the consistency of Elmer's glue.) Add the chicken, stirring to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the chicken broth with the chile-garlic sauce, sugar, and the remaining ¼ cup of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.
In a large saucepan, heat the 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the ginger and garlic and cook over high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir the broth mixture, add it to the pan, and cook until thickened and glossy, about 3 minutes. Keep the sauce warm over low heat.
In a large, deep skillet, heat ½ inch of vegetable oil until shimmering. Carefully add the chicken, one piece at a time, and fry over high heat, turning once or twice, until very browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. (Someone on the F&W website left a comment because they thought it was a pain to cook each piece individually—um, you just add them one at a time, but then you cook them all at once!) Drain the chicken on paper towels and immediately add to the sauce along with the scallions. Cook just until coated, about 30 seconds. Serve right away, with steamed broccoli and rice.
Oh yum, so good.
*This is something I happen to know: Chinese used to be transliterated into English following the Wade-Giles system but was eventually replaced by the Pinyin system, which more closely follows the actual Chinese pronunciation. That's why, for instance, we no longer say Peking, but rather Beijing.)