Saturday, February 21, 2015

General Tso's Chicken

Keeping on the Chinese theme, here is another new dish that I had to try.  It's a very popular dish in Chinese restaurants in America, which of course made me very curious.
Doing some research (once again thank goodness for Google) this simple chicken dish became more intriguing as it seems that this dish named in honour of a Qing dynasty general from Hunan, General Tso Tsung-tang, or Zuo Zongtang, has no known connection to him.  The food has been associated with his name  even though] the dish is found neither in Changsha, the capital of Hunan, nor in Xiangyin, the home of General Tso.  And even more interestingly - apparently descendants of General Tso who still live in Xiangyin, when interviewed, say that they have never heard of such a dish. 
Further reading there are many versions of where this dish originated but I am guessing it was in the early '70s in New York rather than in the 1800s when General Tso lived.  Obviously linking this dish with a famous man adds to the intrigue when ordering meals outside of ones culture!!

This dish itself, was very much like one of our all time favourites, Nice Chicken, although I didn't find it as spicy.  Using the dried chillies added a different texture, and a direct heat upon eating but I would keep the seeds in next time to increase the heat.
Anyhow this is our take on the dish that I found on Rasa Malaysia, fast becoming one of my favourite food sites.

General Tso's Chicken
(recipe adapted from Rasa Malaysia)
Serves: 6
ProPoints per Serve: 12
600 grams skinless chicken breast fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoon rice wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar
5 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 teaspoon Hoisin sauce
1/2 cup water
5 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup cornflour
3/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons ginger, finely crushed
2 cloves garlic, finely crushed
8 - 10 dried red chillies, rinsed and deseeded
4 spring onions, cut into 2 cms lengths

In a bowl marinate the chicken with 1 tablespoon of rice wine and salt for 15 minutes.
In a jug place rice vinegar, soy sauces, hoisin sauce, water, sugar and 2 tablespoons of cornflour.  Mix well and set aside.

Coat the chicken generously with the remaining cornflour. Add oil, reserving 1 tablespoon, to a wok or frying pan. When oil is hot cook the chicken, in batches, until they turn light brown. Remove from oil and drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

Heat up a wok with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil. Add the minced ginger, garlic, and dried chilies into the wok, stir-fry until the chilies are fragrant. Pour the sauce into the wok. When the sauce boils and thickens, add the chicken, stirring to ensure all is well combined. Add the spring onion and stir 1 - 2 minutes. 
Place on a serving platter or dish and serve immediately.

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