Thursday, May 5, 2011

General Tso Good

We miss greasy Chinese (food, that is).

Germany has just about every gastronomical choice you would find in the States with the noted exception of greasy American-style Chinese food and palatable Mexican. The Mexican dilemma is easy enough to solve with store bought tortillas and enough cheese to send all of Baden-Württemberg into cardiac arrest, but the greasy Chinese is another story. I don't own a wok and I just can't seem to find MSG's anywhere. Maybe it's in the snack isle? Clearly a lost cause.

Or IS it?

Turns out, NO! Husband and I had been particularly desirous of one, General Tso's Chicken, of late but I was wary of attempting a homemade reproduction due to generally disappointing quality issues with other fakey-Chinese recipes attempted in the past. But I had a husband to feed, and his recent bout with some kind of particularly nasty cold virus made him such a sympathetic cause that I just couldn't say no. So together we trod (trodded? trode?) through endless online recipes with obvious flaws (hoisin mixed with sweet and sour? Ugh. My teeth rot just thinking about it.), complicated ingredients and photos of completed recipes that could have doubled as a crime scene. 

But then, shining like a beacon of pure white meat chicken breast in a sea of reconstituted poultry parts, it stood. So deliciously possible I couldn't resist. My heart lept, my stomach growled, the frozen chicken in the freezer quivered with anticipation- a culinary delight was born. 

Yes, I know it's blurry and washed out, but I was hungry. So hungry.

with a few variations

I followed this recipe as closely as I could with the ingredients I had, and let me say, it was perfect. Absolutely perfect. The flavors and textures were exact replicas of what we would order at our favorite Chinese place back home. 

That being said, here are my variations:

1. Right away, double the sauce. Just do it.

2. I didn't have Rice Wine, so I used the same amount of cooking sherry instead.

3. To prevent the breading from falling off the chicken or getting soggy when mixed with the sauce, I dipped my chicken pieces in the egg/cornstarch mix as in Step 1, but then also dredged them in flour before frying (I pan fried my chicken in olive oil). Oh, and I also used chicken breast instead of thighs.

3. I didn't have green onion or dried red chili peppers, so I sliced half a yellow onion instead and sprinkled it very liberally with crushed red pepper and then sauteed that in olive oil in Step 4, cooking just until the onion started to soften.

4. The double batch of sauce just coated my chicken (I used more than a pound though), so I made another single batch of sauce and heated in in a separate saucepan until thickened (1-2 minutes after boiling) to pour on the rice.

I will never buy this dish again. Too easy, too good.

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