Subscribers and frequent visitors to this site don’t come here for my take on Asian cuisine, No, as much as I love food from that part of the world, I must confess that up until recently, I very rarely prepared it, much to the joy of the local Thai, Japanese, Korean, and Indian restaurants. Now, however, there are four dishes that I prepare at home and enjoy very much. One, a chicken dish, is today’s recipe, General Tso’s Chicken. The others can be found on blogs that I follow. The first of these, a delicious lamb dish called Karma Khorma, is from my blogging friend David’s decidedly delectable blog, Cocoa and Lavender. The second, a Korean pork dish, one of the first Asian dishes that I made with any frequency, is from Cam’s wonderful blog, Geukima, and is called Crispy Stir-Fried Pork Ribs With Caramelized Fish Sauce. The third is a very tasty Indian dish, Chicken Biryani, and can be found on The Insatiable Gourmet blog. You cannot go wrong preparing any of these and a visit to any of the 3 blogs is very rewarding. (Unfortunately, as of this writing, Geukima and The Insatiable Gourmet seem to be on hiatus. Cocoa and Lavender, thankfully, is still going strong.) Not very long ago, the only Asian dishes I enjoyed were set before me at nearby restaurants. These days, hardly a week goes by that I do not prepare one of these four dishes. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
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Now before going any further, it’s probably best to mention the origins of today’s dish. In my last post’s Comments section, I had mistakenly stated that the dish was created by Chinese immigrants in California. A comment from Eha got me googling its origins. Although I could not find the source stating its California origins (I should know better than to rely upon my memory for anything), I did find much to confirm Eha’s account. It is widely accepted that this dish was a creation of the Hunan chef, Peng Chang-kuei, in Taipei, Taiwan, after he had fled the Chinese mainland. Created in the ’50s, he once served it to Chiang Kai-shek. Chef Peng brought his recipe to America and introduced it in New York City in 1972 following Nixon’s trip to China. Since then, the dish has continued to evolve, in ways not necessarily pleasing to its creator. That is the simple version of the tale. You can find more information on Wikipedia or NPR or, for those who’d rather look at pictures, you can watch the movie, “The Search for General Tso“.
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The Favorite Family Recipes website is the source for today’s recipe. I was attracted to it because I love both General Tso’s Chicken and my slow cooker. I can already sense some of you thinking how much easier it would be to stir-fry this dish. Well, I haven’t a wok and I am certifiably stir-fry challenged. For me, the slow cooker is the way to go. Even so, I did make a few changes. most notably replacing the original’s pineapple juice with orange juice and its cayenne pepper with ground chipotle. In both cases, I used what I had in supply. While searching for the cayenne pepper, I came upon a seldom used container of arrowroot and used it as a thickening agent instead of cornstarch,
I did make a couple of additions, as well. When I order General Tso’s Chicken from my neighborhood Chinese restaurant, broccoli is always included. Even though the original recipe makes no mention of it, I always include some form of the vegetable in my dish. Here, there was a package of broccolini in the vegetable crisper and it ended up being sautéed in garlic-flavored oil before being mixed with the cooked rice. About the same time the broccolini was grabbed, a few mushrooms were found. They had matured into the “use ’em or lose ’em” stage of crisper life and became the most unconventional addition to the dish.
Now that’s all settled, let’s take a look at the recipe.
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General Tso’s Chicken Recipe
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 1 cup flour
- 1½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ cup lite soy sauce
- ½ cup orange juice
- ½ cup white distilled vinegar
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
- ½ tsp ground chipotle pepper
- approx. 4 oz sliced “baby bella” mushrooms (forgive me, Chef Peng)
- 2 tbsp arrowroot, mixed with 2 tbsp water – flour or cornstarch may be substituted
- 4 scallions/green onions, sliced
original recipe from Favorite Family Recipes
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for the rice and broccolini
- 1 cup jasmine rice
- 2 cups water
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp butter
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 8 oz (225 g) broccolini, roughly chopped
- salt & pepper to taste
- Place the flour, salt, and pepper into a sealable plastic bag. Working in batches, add the chicken pieces to the bag, shake to coat, and place the now-coated chicken on a plate. Continue until all the chicken is coated with the seasoned flour.
- Add 2 tbsp of oil to a hot, large frying pan over med-high heat.
- When oil is hot begin adding the chicken pieces. Do not overcrowd. It should take you 2 batches, at least. You may need to add a bit more oil between batches. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Chicken needn’t be cooked through, only browned.
- When the chicken is browned on all sides, remove to a plate and begin the next batch.
- Meanwhile, into the slow cooker, add the sugar, soy sauce, orange juice, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne pepper. Stir to completely combine.
- Add the mushrooms and stir.
- When all the chicken has been browned, add to the slow cooker and set it to low. Cook for 3 to 4 hours or until chicken is cooked thoroughly.
- About 30 minutes before completion, check to see if the sauce has thickened. If not, combine the arrowroot and water to make a slurry. Add to the pot and gently stir. Cover.
- Bring 2 cups of water to the boil in a medium sauce pan with a lid.
- Add salt and butter, stir, and then add the rice.
- When the water returns to the boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan.
- After 20 minutes, remove the pan from the heat. Rice will be ready in 5 more minutes.
- While the rice cooks, add 2 tbsp olive oil to a large frying pan and heat over med-high heat.
- Add the smashed garlic and cook until brown.
- Remove the garlic, add the broccolini, and reduce the heat to medium.
- Continue to sauté the broccolini in the garlic flavored oil until cooked to your satisfaction.
- Add the cooked rice to the frying pan and stir until fully combined. (See Notes)
- Serve the cooked chicken atop a bed of rice with broccolini. Garnish the dish with the chopped scallions/green onions.
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Although broccolini was used here, I have used broccoli and broccoli raab in the recipe. In all cases, I added the cooked rice to the pan in which the vegetable was sautéed so that the rice could absorb as much flavor from the pan as possible. Of course, you could steam the broccoli and add it to the dish however you wish.
The amount of arrowroot slurry needed will vary depending upon how much liquid is in the pot. No matter whether you use flour, cornstarch, or my oft-forgotten arrowroot, mix an equal amount of water with the thickening agent.
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It’s déjà vu all over again …
Very soon we’ll be coming to an end of our tomato growing season. Each of us probably has a favorite method for dealing with the green tomatoes left on the vine with no hope of ripening. My Grandpa placed them in the drawer of an old dresser on the patio where they slowly ripened. Others wrap them in newspaper, while some place the green orbs in paper bags. That’s great if you want to ripen them but what if you don’t want to invest the time, paper, or drawer space? Today’s look back will give you a totally different option Take this LINK to learn how to make green tomato relish. Your hot dogs will thank you.
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Coming soon to a monitor near you …
The Kitchens Salute Awburr-what? … Melanzane!
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