General Tao Chicken

I remember seeing this recipe for a healthier General Tao Chicken in my Coup de Pouce magazine back in November and thinking OMG, I sooo have to give that one a try! (ok, ok, I confess… I didn’t actually remember that the recipe had been published in November, I had to go check my magazines!)

Then, I don’t know, life happened and I stored the magazine and forgot about trying that recipe. Looks like I get that problem a lot, which is why I created my must try list. That way, the recipes that I want to try are all kept together in one place. Well, so long as they appear on the Internet somewhere, that is. I still have to think of something for those recipes that are on paper…

When I saw this recipe last week on Taste and Tell and saw that it had been adapted from the very recipe that I’d been wanting to try earlier, it immediately found a spot on my must try list. And this time, I didn’t wait! I gave it a go right away.

Me being me, though, I had to clean it up even more. I have to say that I was extremely sceptical with the results of my little experiment before I plated it. I think the sauce didn’t look shiny enough, and the chicken didn’t look… well, it didn’t look like it had been deep fried enough! Somehow, it looked all wrong and I thought to myself “there’s no way this dish is going to turn out good enough to earn the right to be called General Tao. I’ll have to come up with a new name…”

Well, much to my surprise, it was very good. Nice balance between sweet, sour and spicy, the chicken had a great texture to it. Not quite as crispy as the deep fried stuff, but still very decent. At least, you could taste and feel the chicken, which I really appreciated. The sauce lacked a little bit of “stickiness”, but its wonderful flavour really made up for it. Hey! Even my son liked it. He ate a whole plate!!! I was stunned! Now THAT really means something. If he ate it and said it was good, then it really passed the test.

I say this dish is good enough to be called General Tao (or General Tso, whichever you prefer) and healthy enough to be served at my table, yet it will please even the fussiest of eaters!

By the way… does anyone know why the two names? Tao? Tso? Which is right?

INGREDIENTS
(serves 3)

SAUCE

  • 3 tbsp mirin
  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp miso
  • ½ tsp sambal oelek
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 4 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated (I went half and half)

CHICKEN

  • 1 tsp olive oil (to pan fry chicken)
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Pinch black pepper
  • 450g boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes

OTHER

  • 4 green onions chopped, to add to chicken
  • Toasted sesame seeds, to garnish
  • 1 green onion, chopped, to garnish
  • 2 cups cooked brown basmati rice, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix corn starch, salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in this mixture and shake off any excess.
  2. In a large non-stick pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in the olive oil until browned on all sides. The key here is to leave your chicken alone until it forms a crust. Be patient. Don’t touch it. Just lift the pieces once in a while to see if a beautiful golden crust has formed. If not, put it back. Once you have a crust, then you can flip your pieces, one by one. Make sure you get that beautiful crust all around. This will take at least 10 minutes.
  3. While your chicken is browning, keep busy by preparing your sauce (just mix all the ingredients together), chopping your green onions and toasting your sesame seeds.
  4. When your chicken is ready, add the green onions and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the sauce and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 2 minutes, or until the sauce thickens a bit.
  5. Serve with cooked rice and garnish with green onions, and sesame seeds

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Comments

  1. says

    Oh, this looks so good! Your photographs are so appealing as well. I love that this recipe serves 3. As a person who’s always cooking for one, I won’t have to modify this one.

    • says

      Sambal Oelek is a chili paste which can be found in pretty much all grocery stores, at least where I live. If you have no luck with your local grocery store, try an Asian market, or other ethnic food store.

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