Personally I’ve never heard of General Tso, but his chicken sounds a lot like the sweet and sour dishes we order from takeaways. Not normally the healthiest of dishes… but thanks to America’s Test Kitchen and their Comfort Food Makeovers book, this version is half the calories of the original, and without any trans fats!
I first found this recipe online and I think it might be what turned me on to America’s Test Kitchen in the first place. However yesterday was the first time I actually cooked it – and I’ll certainly be cooking it again as it was amazing: proper sweet & sour Chinese taste, with really crispy chicken you’d think had been deep fried.
The main trick to making this healthier is baking the chicken rather than deep frying it. The secret to faking the crispiness of deep frying it to coat the chicken in crushed cornflakes. I actually used crunchy nut cornflakes, both because that’s what I had, and because I liked the idea of the nutty taste with the chicken.
So you start by chopping chicken breasts into chunks, then coating with flour, then egg whites, then the crushed cornflakes.
To get them as crispy as possible you want them heated from all sides, so I’m using a lattice mat to cook on. The recipe suggests using a wire rack, but the only wire racks I’ve got are cooling ones, and I’m not sure they’d be safe in the oven.
The cooked chicken gets added to the sweet & sour sauce. The recipe suggests making the sauce while the chicken cooks. This seemed a bit ambitious, so I made it first then cooked it down while the chicken cooked. This made a really thick sticky sauce, so I’d certainly do the same again next time.
The recipe calls for 1/8 tsp of chili flakes.
The recipe wanted to serve with just rice, but I decided to add some veg, so I stir fried some baby corn, mange tout, beansprouts, onions, spring onions, mushrooms, and water chestnuts. For seasoning I used garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, Chinese 5-spice and Szechuan pepper.
Finally I served it up with some nice cold British ales :)