I have worked on this for almost a month. I started with an American Test Kitchen version. It was an absolute disaster. Yes, I do have those. Over one hour of hard cooking. I created the biggest mess I have ever made in the kitchen. Plus I hated it. Way too much vinegar and just otherwise not outstanding. With that much work, it needs to be great. I was very disappointed. My wife was likewise unimpressed. It went down the sink.
Several more recipes and it was starting to get really old. What others thought was great and wonderful just wasn’t. All had too much vinegar and too many unusual ingredients. Plus, they all took too much work for my “cooking for two” world.
Ultimately Lighter General Tso’s Chicken from Tracey’s Culinary Adventure came to the rescue. While I still changed a few things and cut the vinegar, this is definitely the inspiration piece. She used a Martha Stewart recipe as inspiration. The chicken was coated with some egg white and corn starch than pan-fried. Definitely healthier than deep-frying and easier.
Yep a five but a lower five. There is some room for improvement but not much. I will be doing this over and over.
Notes: The Martha method of cooking the chicken is a little fussy with turning each little piece to brown over and over. Plus doing it in two batches. This involves standing there continuously for about 20 minutes. I put it all in at once and stirred occasionally. A little of the coating came off (some even came off in the Martha method also) but most stayed on and your sin is hidden by the sauce anyways.
Ultimately I took the vinegar out completely. There is some vinegar in the Hoisin sauce and that was enough. I left in some dry ginger but many recipes call for fresh ginger which I don’t usually have and don’t really like that much.
A heat note. I used 1 tsp of crushed red pepper. 1/2 tsp is mildly spicy and 1 tsp is hot which is how I like my Tso’s. My wife picked up some Tien Tsin peppers at Penzey last week to try. More on this later.
I have more brown sugar in this than may be needed and I will be cutting that down some in futures cooking’s. I really think it can cut in half without much effect. If your really want light, check the Tracy and Martha recipes.
The only “special” thing is Hoisin sauce. I’m now going to stock it in my refrigerator.
Start by rinsing, pat dry and trimming two skinless boneless chicken breast. Then cube into about 1 inch pieces.
Heat 2 t oil over medium high heat in a large non stick skillet or a wok. Whisk together 2 egg whites, 3 T corn starch, 1/2 t salt and 1/4 t pepper.
Add chicken to the egg mix and stir to coat.
Shake excess coating off the chicken and add one piece at a time. You can be a perfectionist and do half turning them nicely for 8 to 10 minutes and repeat. OR put them all in and stir occasionally like lazy me for about 12-14 minutes. Be sure the internal temp gets to 165 by checking multiple pieces.
While the chicken is cooking, mix the sauce. 1/2 cup water with 1 T corn starch. Whisk. Then add 1/2 cup brown sugar (decrease if you want). 3 T Hoisin sauce, 3 T ketchup, 2 T soy sauce, 1/4 t dry ginger and crushed red pepper. The red pepper is more to taste. 1/2 t is a mild heat (3/10) and 1 t is what I think of in Tso’s chicken (7/10).
When the chicken is done, transfer to a bowl and decrease heat to medium-low. Add the sauce and whisk continuously while boiling until well thickened 2-3 minutes.
Add the chicken back in and stir to coat.
December 6 2013