Thursday, March 13, 2008

JOHN CHUCKMAN'S VERSION OF GENERAL TSO'S CHICKEN

I love Chinese food. This recipe is my version of a classic.


CHUCKMAN’S VERSION OF GENERAL TSO’S CHICKEN

INGREDIENTS

Chicken – Use either traditional cut-up Chicken Breast (about a pound – cut into bite-size pieces) or Drumettes or Drumsticks – drumettes or legs are unconventional but delicious – you need a greater weight to compensate for bones.

Broccoli – One medium head

Canola or Peanut Oil for frying

Dried crushed Chilli Peppers

Garlic – 1 medium-to-large clove, finely chopped

Ginger – a good-sized chunk (about the size of an average thumb), finely chopped – fresh is valuable for this recipe for its aromatic quality, but in a pinch, use bottled

Chicken Broth – 3 Tablespoons

Rice Vinegar – 2 Tablespoons

Hoisin Sauce – 2 Tablespoons (available in any Asian market and many supermarkets)

Sesame Oil – 1 Teaspoon

Sugar or Sugar Substitute – 2 Teaspoons Sugar or equivalent Substitute - the Substitute works nicely in this recipe

Dark Soy Sauce – this is the thicker type that has molasses in it

Cornstarch – a few Tablespoons

Dry Sherry – a good splash


METHOD

Spread Chicken pieces on a plate or platter and sprinkle lightly with cornstarch, a generous splash of Sherry, and a smaller splash of Soy Sauce. Toss lightly together and let stand briefly.

Blanch broccoli in a Covered Saucepan with a small amount of water on bottom. Bring water to a rapid boil, continue a minute or two, remove from the heat, and cool with cold running water. Broccoli will be bright green and par-cooked. Chop into florets and thin stalk slices. Set aside.

The sauce consists of 2 Tablespoons of Rice Wine Vinegar, 2 teaspoons of sugar or equivalent of sugar-substitute, 2 Tablespoons of Hoisin Sauce, 1 Tablespoon Dark Soy Sauce, a large clove of Garlic finely chopped, a chunk of fresh Ginger finely chopped, 1 Teaspoon of Sesame Oil, 3 Tablespoons of Chicken Broth, and a generous sprinkle of crushed Chili Peppers. Set aside.

Mix about 1 Teaspoon more of Cornstarch and a splash of cold water. This will thicken sauce when cooking. Set aside.

GENERAL NOTE ON STIR-FRYING

This ingenious, fuel-saving method of cooking is done in a hierarchy of cooking times, the ingredient requiring the most time being first – when all ingredients are together, they are cooked with the sauce briefly.

In this case, start with the Chicken. Saute the Chicken pieces lightly (do not overcook or flesh looses its succulence).

If you are using drumettes or legs, you will need a more substantial cooking time, especially legs – they should become golden and no blood should run.

Add blanched Broccoli and stir briefly.

Add Sauce ingredients. Add thickener.

Let simmer together a few minutes.

OPTIONS

Make the flavour very hot with plenty of chili peppers or use a Teaspoon of genuine Chinese Hot Chili Oil (this is very hot stuff, available in any Asian market). Or add Whole Dried Chilis (a dozen or so) to stir-fry after Chicken – this is a traditional ingredient.

Sprinkle servings with finely-sliced green onions and/or crushed peanuts.

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