Sunday, November 20, 2011

Lighter General Tso's Chicken

Here at the Birchwood, I don't do a lot of "light" eating.  I eat hard and balance it out by working out hard.  However, the annual Birchwood Pecan Pie bake off is coming, so the chance to save a few calories is appreciated right now.  And honestly, this was so good that it's now my go-to General Tso recipe.

Yield: 4 servings
(Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart)

  • 1 cup rice
  • ¼  cup cornstarch (divided)
  • ½ pound snow peas
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • red pepper flakes to taste 
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (may substitute 1 pound tofu)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Cook the rice according to your preferred method and set aside.

Measure out the ingredients for the sauce: 1 tablespoon cornstarch, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes.  Yes, that's fresh garlic and jarred minced ginger.  That's just where I am in my cooking journey right now.

Mix the ½ cup water and 1 tablespoon cornstarch together, making sure that the cornstarch is completely smooth.

Add the rest of the sauce ingredients.

Mix with the snow peas.  The original recipe used a full pound of the snow peas and had many comments that the recipe didn't make enough sauce.  Due to a shopping error, I only had ½ pound of snow peas and no complaints about the amount of sauce.

 Prepare the chicken.  Trim any fat off the breasts.  If you're not a fan of chicken, substitute tofu.  Just blot it dry and cut into one-inch pieces.

The chicken needs to have a consistent thickness.  Sandwich it in wax paper and get out your meat mallet.

Unleash your frustrations with the smooth side of the mallet.

Don't you feel better now?

Slice the chicken into one-inch pieces and set aside while you  prepare the batter for the chicken.  Skip the batter if you're using tofu.

Separate the eggs.

Mix the egg whites with the remaining 3 tablespoons of cornstarch and a little salt and pepper.  Hmm, why is it yellow when it's made from white cornstarch and egg whites?  OK, so I had a little accident when separating the second egg.  Which is why a professional would separate each egg into a separate bowl.  But the extra yolk is no big deal here.

Mix the chicken pieces in the batter and coat completely.

Coat a skillet with vegetable oil and heat on medium.  Test the skillet by splashing a few drops of water.  When it sizzles, add the chicken in small batches.  Cook a few minutes per side until browned. 

Set the cooked chicken on paper towels.  It took three loads to cook all the chicken, but I never needed to add more oil.  Based on experience, I would guess that additional oil would be required for tofu.

Add the peas and sauce to the skillet.

 Cover the skillet and let it cook for five minutes.

It's ready when the peas are tender and the sauce thickens a little.

Add the chicken and stir to combine.

Serve over rice.

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