Monday, January 26, 2009

General Tso’s Cashew Chicken

This is a special treat to have fantastic Chinese food at home! Seriously good stuff, this is. I sort of combined two recipes to come up with this and it is a keeper—the whole family liked it.
Don’t be put off by the two-step method; the first bit can be done ahead of time and held in the fridge.
Also, do not skip the first step of frying the chicken—it makes the dish! I replicated the same recipe without the initial frying and it was not nearly as good. I measured the oil as I added it into the pan, then again after fried— not much oil is used per serving.

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (the best) or breasts (good, too), cut into bite-size pieces
6 eggs or 8 egg whites
1 cup corn starch (aka- corn flour)
Vegetable or peanut oil

6 tablespoons soy sauce
6 tablespoons sugar (castor or table sugar)
3 tablespoons rice (or plain) vinegar
4 tablespoons mirin, rice wine
2 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons, heaping corn starch (corn flour)

Stir Fry
1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil
3 tablespoons chopped, fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh garlic
5 birds eye chills (small and hot), seeded and chopped fine (use more or less, this amount just gives a gentle heat)
8 green onions (scallions), sliced, excluding the top 2 inches
Chopped cashews (or peanuts of you’d rather)—optional

1) With a whisk, mix up the corn starch and eggs until smooth then add the chicken pieces. Set aside for 15-30 minutes while you make the sauce.

2) Shake all of the sauce ingredients in a jar and set aside.

3) Set a very large sauté pan or wok over medium heat and pour oil to come 1-2 inches up the side. Cover and allow to reach about 375F (it should spit when water is flicked into it). Fry the chicken chunks in batches, turning over just once (this will keep them crispier and soak up less oil)— for about 2 minutes per side (depending on size of chunks). Remove to a rack or paper-towel lined platter. Do not worry about keeping the chicken warm. All of this may be done up to 8 hours ahead of time—just store the cooked chicken in the refrigerator until ready to stir fry.

4) Time to stir fry! Place a clean, large sauté pan or wok over high heat and allow to get very hot. Have everything ready!! Pour 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil into the pan and immediately add in the ginger, garlic and chills. Stir fry for 30-60 seconds then add in the fried chicken and stir fry for a minute. Now add in the sauce and green onions—stir fry, string constantly until the sauce is thick. Sprinkle chopped nuts over top. Serve immediately over plain white rice.

Serves 6

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