I’ve long been a proponent of the “If you’re going to eat it, make it yourself” school of thought. Want cake? Bake one – from scratch. Want ice cream? Make it yourself – again, from scratch. Want biscuits and gravy? Ditto.
Want some wonderfully sauced, deep-fried Chinese food? I can do that.
Despite the fact that I love it, I’ve never been real huge on Chinese take-out. Oh, we’d get it once in a blue moon, but it wasn’t something we’d get on a weekly, or even monthly, basis. But when we did, you can be sure General Tso’s Chicken was one of the dishes we’d order. It’s probably Beloved’s favorite, right behind crab rangoons and barbecue spare ribs. I won’t turn my nose up at it, either, although The Young One usually did, opting for chicken fried rice.
I can’t remember the last time we ordered it, though – certainly not in the last two years, and it was probably quite some time before that. But once in awhile, it just sounds good, so I thought I’d look around on the interwebz for a reasonable recipe. And boy, did I find one.
The original recipe calls for corn starch, sugar, hoisin sauce and vegetable oil, but we all know I’m not going there, so I made suitable substitutions of a little extra wheat-free tamari, some honey, tapioca flour (potato starch would probably also work quite well, if you’re so inclined) and non-hydrogenated vegetable palm oil shortening, simply because it has such a neutral flavor. The results were better than I hoped for – the chicken was suitably moist, yet crunchy, and the sauce was spicy but not too sweet. The three of us – yes, even The Young One, who went back for more (something that is almost unheard of) – scarfed it down with great pleasure.
Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients; it really came together pretty quickly – frying the chicken was the hardest, most time-consuming part, and even that took maybe 10 minutes, tops. I also added some sliced carrots, onion and tatsoi we’d picked up at the farmer’s market, stir-frying them briefly before adding the garlic and red pepper flakes to the wok – you could use just about any vegetables you like. Or none at all, if that’s what you want. (Michele, I totally see this working with some tofu.)
All in all, this was really very good – I can easily see making this again sometime. Or maybe turning the recipe into Orange Chicken. Or Sesame Chicken. Mmmmm…
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 cups tapioca flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 – 3 cups palm oil shortening
- 1 tablespoon wheat-free tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 2 egg whites
- 1/4 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon wheat-free tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon chili paste
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon tapioca flour or arrowroot powder
- In a large bowl, combine the marinade ingredients. Add the chicken, and stir to coat; set aside for 10 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients until well combined. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, stir together the 1 1/2 cups tapioca flour with the salt and pepper. Toss the marinated chicken in the tapioca mixture to coat; shake off any excess before frying.
- In a wok or large, deep skillet, melt the palm oil shortening over high heat to 350 F. Working in batches, fry the chicken cubs until golden brown outside and just cooked through inside, about 4 minutes per batch. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all of the chicken has been fried.
- Drain the hot oil into a heat-proof container, reserving one tablespoon; discard the rest once it has cooled. Wipe down the inside of the wok with a paper towel, but do not wash.
- Reheat the wok or skillet over medium-high heat; add the reserved tablespoon of oil. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir-fry until fragrant, about 15 to 20 seconds. Add the sauce mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the chicken to the sauce mixture in the wok and stir to coat well. Transfer to a serving dish; garnish with sesame seeds and sliced scalliions, if desired. Serve with the vegetables of your choice.
- Nutrition (per serving): 504 calories, 31.4g total fat, 73mg cholesterol, 1052.6mg sodium, 601.1mg potassium, 28.3g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 10g sugar, 27.9g protein