A Higher Rank of Chicken*
One of my favorite dishes to order has always been General Tso’s Chicken. General Tso was a Qing dynasty military leader (if you couldn’t have guessed from the title) who is said to have celebrated each victory by having this dish prepared so he could dine on it while reflecting over the battle. Of course this dish is as authentically Chinese as my origin story is accurate.
For most North Americans, dishes classified as ‘Chinese food’, like Chop Suey, Sweet and Sour Pork, Egg Rolls, fortune cookies, are actually creations of Chinese immigrants who made their way to America. Anyone spending time inside the Middle Kingdom with quickly find that food there neither tastes nor smells like anything found in a Panda Express or a Kinai Bufe… which may be a blessing. Having spent over a year living and traveling through China in the early 90’s, I can attest that there is some fantastic food there.
Of course growing up with only Americanized Chinese food there will always a soft spot in my heart for many of these dishes, especially General Tso’s Chicken. When I saw this recipe online somewhere I knew I had to give it a try. The recipe gets bonus point since it doesn’t require a wok or deep frying, which is not only a hassle but also unhealthy. You won’t be missing out on any crunch or spice, as this version still has the crispy outer layer (made with crushed up corn flakes), and and a sauce that you can easily adjust the heat level to your taste. Served on a bed of rice and garnished with sesame seeds or green onions, it is quite filling. The meal was quickly eaten up by my family including toddler who recently had become a more fussy eater. Give it a try!
Recipe courtesy of Shared.com
- 1 kg boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 5cm chunks
- 35g cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 3 cups crushed corn flakes (you may need more)
For the sauce
- 175ml chicken broth
- 8 ml tomato paste
- 30 ml tablespoons soy sauce
- 25 ml tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 8 ml teaspoon sriracha sauce
- 45 ml rice vinegar
- 20 g tablespoons granulated sugar
- 25 g tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water
- 5 ml toasted sesame oil or regular sesame oil (optional)
- 2 Chinese dried red chiles, finely sliced (optional)
- sesame seeds (optional)
- Move one of the oven racks to the upper-middle part and preheat oven to 220 C degrees.
- Cover a large cooking tray with parchment paper. (don’t use foil unless you don’t have parchment..it sticks)
- Place three large bowls one next to another and fill the first one with flour, the second with the beaten egg mixture, and the last one with crushed corn flakes.
- Dip each piece of chicken in flour, then egg, then coat with crushed cornflakes; you’ll need to gently pressing on to coat.
- Place on cooking tray. Bake in the oven for about 11-13 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and corn flakes are golden brown.
- Meanwhile put all the sauce ingredients – except for cornstarch – in a medium size pot and bring to a gentle boil.
- Mix cornstarch with couple of spoonfuls of cold water and stir. Slow add to the sauce while stirring. Cook for a minute until sauce thickens and turn the heat off.
- Take chicken out of the oven and transfer to a large pan. Turn the heat on to low and pour sauce over the chicken, coating each piece evenly while tossing. If you are adding sesame seeds, sesame oil and/or dried red chiles, this is the time to add them.
- Turn the heat off, transfer to a plate and serve immediately.
Did you know?
- Chinese food has 5 key flavor elements that should be balanced according to ‘Traditional Chinese Medicine’ — sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and spicy?
- China Uses 45 Billion Pairs of Chopsticks a Year, mostly made of bamboo or other softwoods. That’s a forest close to 300 square kilometers!
- The dish ‘Ants climb trees’ actually is vermicelli-like noodles with spicy minced pork.
- Almost everything is bite-sized so it may easily be eaten with chopsticks.
- Unlike the rest of the world, the soup is part of the last course at the Chinese table. The Chinese say that it allows for better digestion.
- Ketchup is actually a Chinese invention. It was originally a pickled fish sauce called ke-tsiap
*the other being the Colonel’s fried chicken