I adore Chinese takeout. I pretty much order the same two dishes every single time: General Tso's Chicken and a bowl of Hot and Sour Soup. We rarely eat out, so it seems that whenever we do I am unwilling to venture away from my typical favorites for fear that the experience will be disappointing. Paul is normally a little more adventurous than I, but has usually ended up gazing longingly over at my plate of food while slowly gulping down whatever poor menu choice he made. I think last time he chose Kung Pao Chicken and was highly disturbed that the dish contained peanuts (even though it clearly stated this in the menu description!).
I found this recipe online for a healthy, homemade version of General Tso's. Since I have been absolutely craving Chinese and Indian cuisine lately, this seemed like the perfect thing to whip up for dinner.
If you are expecting the flavor to be exactly like your local Chinese takeout, let me tell you right now that it is not. I mean, c'mon...the chicken is not deep fried. However, it will satisfy those takeout cravings without the guilt. This is still not exactly health food due to the high amount of sugar in the sauce, but a little goes a long way.
I pumped up the nutrition of the dish a little by adding a TON of lightly steamed broccoli. I also added some red pepper flakes to the sauce, since we normally like ours a little on the spicy side. You can certainly choose to omit this if the heat bothers you.
Lighter General Tso's Chicken
adapted from Coup De Pouce Magazine
For the Sauce:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1 pound broccoli florets, separated into small stalks
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
3-4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
6-8 green onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons peeled, fresh ginger, grated
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (optional)
Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and set aside.
Place the cornstarch in a large, plastic ziploc bag and add the chicken pieces. Shake until the chicken pieces are completely coated. Shake off any excess.
Steam the broccoli in the microwave or on the stovetop just until tender. Cover and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl to completely coat the pan. Add the chicken in a single layer and allow to brown (about 2-4 minutes). Flip to the other side and allow that side to brown, watching carefully (about 2 minutes more). Remove the chicken to a plate and a tent with foil to keep warm.
Carefully wipe out the pan with some wet paper towels and return to medium heat. Add the sesame oil, green onions, ginger, and red pepper flakes and stir-fry for 1 minute or until very fragrant. Add the sauce to the pan and bring to a boil. Allow to cook about 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add the chicken back to the pan and coat completely with the sauce. Let simmer for a minute or two, until the chicken is cooked through. Add the steamed broccoli and stir to coat with the sauce.
Serve hot over freshly cooked rice.