Meat and Poultry

General Tso’s Chicken + Book Review and Giveaway

Loreto September 6, 2016

General Tso’s Chicken: a blend of Asian spices coating morsels of crispy tapioca battered chicken. Textually magnificent, and beautifully flavored. Give us a comment on the post and like our page on Facebook, and you are eligible to win a fabulous cookbook by Kian Lam Kho, published by Clarkson Potter,  Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees, essentials techniques to authentic Chinese cooking.

General Tso's Chicken

{Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of the Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees cookbook by Clarkson Potter in order to conduct this review and giveaway, but all opinionjs are my own.}

General Tso’s Chicken has been something that I have wanted to do for a long time.  Chinese cooking is in one of my top ranked ways of cooking next to Italian and just before Indian cuisine. When I heard of the opportunity to receive this cookbook by Kian Lam Kho, Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees I was enthralled and so excited to dive right in and create and learn more about the cuisine of China, and to be a part of the mid Autumn  harvest moon festival for the Chinese culture.

 

 

It is that time of year and harvests are coming in , and in the Chinese culture is is the second biggest celebration next to New Years. Mid Autumn Festival, families gather for feasts to celebrate the harvest moon. It is something that I think most cultures celebrate and even in Italian tradition a middle of August celebration is called Ferragosto. People take weeks off going to their country homes, preparing course after course of food, fireworks every night on end and piazza’s full of people together united giving thanks and enjoying what the earth has given them. This is the part I like best when knowing that as diverse as culture is, one thing is congruent. Celebrating and the love and gratitude of food! In the Chinese tradition of mid harvest moon, moon cakes are made. These elaborately designed cakes in the round shape of the moon with intricate patterns stamped on top,dense in texture packed with a rich slightly sweet almond flavor. Don’t quote me on that as I am not the expert in this department, but it is what I tasted when eating them. In any culture there is always one recipe that represents the celebration and the moon cake is one that signifies for me plentiful harvest. Maybe one day we will do a post on the making of moon cakes, but today it is going to be savory and spicy.

I love when there is a celebration and everyone brings something to the table. People proud, and passionate about their dish. Laughter and sharing, stories and moments of silence because mouths are full enjoying the offerings of dishes made by family and friends. A collaboration of effort and love. Today it is with great gratitude and passion, that we bring our dish of  General Tso’s Chicken to the table.

Spicy and sweet, crispy and saucy, General Tso’s Chicken!

General Tso's Chicken

I have never attempted to make this dish before, not out of lack of passion, because if anyone knows me I have a passion for Chinese cuisine, but more out of ignorance and lack of knowledge on technique and product. Well that was rectified with this cook book Phoenix claws and Jade trees. For one I love the title, mystic and deliciously cultural with a hint of spiritualism, my take on it of course. I am not a professor of humanities, just curious and fascinated, more like that of a child like mind. This book offers technique upon technique of masterful Chinese culinary authentic tradition, introducing you to a plethora of Asian ingredients and spices which take you on a journey through culture and gives your taste buds an awakening liberating you from the hum drums of what we think day to day meal preparation or lack there of is. In outlining the differences among various techniques such as pan-frying, oil steeping, and yin-yang frying, and instructing which one is best for particular ingredients and end results, culinary expert Kian Lam Kho provides a practical, intuitive approach into this unique cuisine. Kian is the founder and operator of  a food blog also, Red Cook adventures from a Chinese home kitchen.

The General Tso’s Chicken is a blend of spices and flavors  like ginger, garlic, white pepper, red chili peppers, sesame seeds, Shoaxing wine, lite soy sauce, sugar, hoisin sauce. All these ingredients introduced in stages from marination to final glazing of those crispy tapioca starch battered chicken morsels. I would have to say that we had no troubles finding the ingredients at one our local Chinese markets called T&T. Nicoletta and I always have fun there. We are like kids in a candy store gazing at all the interesting products, spices, and ingredients.

The first stage marinating the chicken thighs: a toss in some shaoxing cooking wine, egg whites, white pepper, salt for seasoning, massaging all that flavor into the flesh of the chicken. In to the fridge it goes for some time so it can be infused and tenderized.

Stage two blending the ingredients for the sauce, a combination of vegetable broth, Shaoxing cooking wine, Chinkiang black vinegar, lite soy sauce, hoisin sauce, tapioca starch, sugar. Whisked vigorously to bring all those flavors together and set aside.

Stage three, taking the chicken and tossing in in the tapioca starch, coating it well, ensuring that the juices of the chicken will stay in as it fries in that golden oil, remaining moist and tender.

General Tso's Chicken

The next phase, stage four, frying. In goes the oil in a wok, brought to a nice shimmery sheen on top, roughly 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In goes those ghostly looking chicken pieces and cooked until they turn a golden brown in color. When done onto a plate  with some paper towel to catch any excess oil. I fried the chicken in two batches to keep the oil temperature constant and also to prevent any mishaps with hot oil spilling out.

Stage five, get another wok, take a few spoonfuls of the oil used for frying the chicken and drizzle it in. Bring to a nice high heat and toss in garlic and ginger. A quick 30 second stir fry as you don’t want to burn the ginger or garlic, which would give the sauce a bitter taste. Stir the sauce mixture again as the tapioca would have settle to the bottom of the bow. When the sauce is well blended, into the wok it goes, stirring frequently. As the sauce starts to thicken in goes those golden crispy chicken bites, and the chilies, A splash of sesame oil, and some speedy wok work till the chicken is well coated and onto a plate it goes.

Final stage, garnishing. Sprinkling a good small handful of sesame seeds and sliced scallions, giving this dish  some perspective and vibrancy in look and color. The best part, ready to serve, let’s eat!

General Tso's Chicken

The flavors of this dish are amazing, the initial crunch of the crispy tapioca coated chicken come in, along with the hits of spice from the red chilies, ginger, and garlic. Sweetness coating that surface, a medley of hoisin sauce, sugar, shaoxing wine. A nice back drop of acidity coming in from the soy sauce and black vinegar, not too strong, balanced by the sweetness. Nice subtle hits of  toasted sesame seeds gives you that nuttiness that is well welcomed in each bite, along with that freshness from the scallions. Just when you think your taste buds are done, in comes the juice released as you bite into each morsel. The chicken, moist, juicy, tender beyond belief. The fried tapioca coating has sealed the moistness in creating a pouch of deliciousness,infusing the chicken even further with the marinating sauce blending with the natural sugars and juices from the chicken, beyond incredible.

We served General Tso’s Chicken on a bed of crispy fried Chinese noodles, with a surround of stir fried cabbage and onion. I loved the combinations of textures and flavors. I was telling Nicoletta as we were eating, how each flavor and texture came through, not overpowering,  but complimenting each other in a perfect balance , one would say would be comparable to Yin and yang. Happy Mid Autumn harvest moon, and our remake of Kian Lam Kho’s General Tso’s Chicken.

So there you have it as we settle to the table with this feast for the mid Autumn festival, glancing at each other and at the lovely food that has been prepared, in deep gratitude for our presence in this life, and respect for the nature that provided it to us.

I would like to thank Kian Lam Kho, for his wonderful cookbook Phoenix claws and Jade Trees, and his wonderful recipe for General Tso’s chicken. It has opened me up even deeper to the world of Chinese cuisine and technique. There were so many recipes that we wanted to share and in time we will. Dishes like Cucumber Salad with Garlic, Red Cooked Pork, Stir Fried Beef with Black Pepper, Mapo Tofu, and so many more I could list. My suggestion is to get the book. I highly recommend it.

Enjoy!

Song of the day: “1901” by Phoenix. I love this song, it always gets my energy going.

Not only am I sharing this amazing recipe with you, from the book ” Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees: Essential Techniques of Authentic Chinese Cooking”, but we are giving away a copy of the book that will be sent to you courtesy of Clarkson Potter. To be eligible, just like Sugarlovespices on Facebook and add a comment to this post  on  or before October 2 and We will draw for the winner on October 3, 2016.

PhoenixClaws_bookcover-440

This giveaway is open to all residents of Canada who have reached the age of majority at the time of the contest in the province or territory in which they reside. No purchase necessary to enter. Giveaway will run from September 6th to October 2nd at 12:00pm. 
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General Tso’s Chicken + Book Review and Giveaway

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Serving Size: 3-4 servings

General Tso’s Chicken + Book Review and Giveaway

Ingredients

    Main Ingredient:
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • Marinade
  • 2 Tbsp Shaoxing cooking wine
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • Sauce
  • 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock or water
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing cooking wine
  • 2 Tbsp Chinkiang black vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce (we use light soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • Frying:
  • 4 cups vegetable oil
  • Flouring:
  • 3/4 cup tapioca starch
  • Final seasoning:
  • 3 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup dried red chiles
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 Tbsp thinly sliced scallions greens

Instructions

  1. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add the chicken cubes and stir well. Let marinate for 20 minutes.
  2. Combine all the sauce ingredients in another bowl and mix well.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over high heat until it is shimmering, about 375° F.
  4. Put the tapioca starch in a large bowl and roll the marinated chicken cubes in the starch. Be sure to coat each piece generously.
  5. Fry the chicken cubes in the hot oil in two batches until they are golden brown, about 4 minutes.
  6. Drain the chicken cubes and set them aside on a double layer of paper towels.
  7. Remove all but 2 Tbsp of the vegetable oil from the wok. Add the garlic and ginger to the wok and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Stir the sauce mixture so the starch is blended completely and pour it into the wok. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Return the chicken to the wok and quickly toss the pieces in the sauce. Add the sesame oil and stir into the chicken.
  8. Garnish with the toasted sesame seeds and sliced scallions greens.

General Tso's Chicken

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16 Comments

  • Reply Cindy September 6, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Love this book! Only had a couple weeks with it from the library before I had to return it but I definitely need to try more recipes from it!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto September 9, 2016 at 9:07 am

      Hi Cindy, it is nice to know that it is available at the library. I couldn’t help looking through it and finding the recipes that resounded with me. The General Tso’s Chicken really screamed out to me and I always wanted to do a crispy chicken with a sweet and spicy sauce keeping the chicken crispy and leaving the sauce for the surface. Good luck with the recipes in this book would love to hear you input on them.
      Have a great day!
      Loreto

  • Reply Lillian T September 6, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    Wow you did an awesome job with this dish! I may be Asian but I think we would definitely need to learn some cooking techniques and Asian recipes to add to our repertoire! We currently cook way more on the French/Italian side of things.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto September 9, 2016 at 9:04 am

      Hi Lillian
      Isn’t it funny how things work, Italians craving Chinese cuisine and Chinese craving Italian cuisine. I am honored that you think I did an awesome job. I worked fiercely on this and put my heart and soul into it, so thank you! Sorry for replying so late being in Italy especially in the country has some obstacles and finding internet reception is one that is almost non existent.
      Have a great weekend.
      Loreto

  • Reply annie@ciaochowbambina.com September 7, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    General Tso’s Chicken is actually the first Chinese dish I ever ordered at a Chinese restaurant. And I’ve loved it ever since! I’ve yet to make it…the only Chinese dish I’ve made from scratch is Chicken & Cashews… but I really need to try this! Thanks for sharing!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto September 9, 2016 at 8:56 am

      Hi Annie
      I love hearing about first experiences with ethnic foods. I have some stories about trying new ethnic foods but we will waite to share them on posts.This General Tso’s Chicken is a great recipe. I love the tapioca starch it is totally different from corn starch and lighter to ingest, plus the crispness of the coating on the chicken was amazing and the flavors with the cooking wine, black vinegar, chilies, was amazing. My first dish that I had was stir fried beef and seasonal greens with steamed rice. I loved it, and so my journey into making Chinese food began.
      Sorry for responding so late. Nicoletta and I have been in a small mountain town a ways from Rome and I only have to say this Technology, What technology!
      Have a great weekend
      Ciao Loreto

  • Reply karrie @ Tasty Ever After September 7, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Love that book cover! And a huge wow on your General Tsos chicken! It’s gorgeous 🙂 Definitely trying this ASAP. I adore anything Chinese related and always get so exited when I visit my local markets too. I go into Boston’s Chinatown once every 4-6 weeks, just to surround myself with the authentic food, shops, and people. Love it and it makes me so happy 🙂 Hope you guys are enjoying Rome!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto September 9, 2016 at 8:48 am

      Hi Karrie, I have been to Chinatown in Boston and I loved it. I was like a kid in a candy store, the ingredients, spices and especially the food was like being in ethnic heaven. I was a late bloomer to being introduced to Chinese cuisine and once I tasted it on my pallet I was hooked. Having said that preparing this General Ts’s Chicken was an absolute joy and passion and the different things I learned as far as ingredients will definitely go into my Chinese book of techniques and cooking. Thank you so much for the comment and Nicoletta and I are enjoying Italy very much. It has been busy with all the people we are seeing but the next few days we are in Tuscany and doing a cooking course.
      Have a great weekend!
      Loreto

  • Reply jackie @ superman cooks September 8, 2016 at 6:58 am

    Bravo Loreto! This looks fantastic!! I am a huge fan of Asian cuisine in general, and I always beg Keith to try new recipes. This looks like a winner.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto September 9, 2016 at 8:41 am

      Thank you so much Jackie, sorry for the late response we have been in the country side of Italy where technology is non existent and wi fi may be mistaken for a gelato.I would highly recommend this book the recipes are authentic and I found that the ingredients were easy to find. The thing I remember most about this dish is its balance in flavor with such a vast flavor profile and also it wasn’t really spicy just enough so that it was enjoyable and not excruciating.

  • Reply Redawna September 13, 2016 at 1:13 am

    What a fantastic dish! It sounds delicious.
    I agree with what you say about not cooking these types of dishes because a lack of knowledge on technique.
    And yes, I just recently discovered the T&T market. I spent over an hour exploring all they had to offer. I can ‘t wait to shop there again!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto September 13, 2016 at 5:42 am

      Hi Redawna, for us foodies going to places like T&T is like heaven and curiosity running high. It is unbelievable how many different spices dried herbs there are there. I remember going to a Buddhist temple for meditations and they would prepare a vegetarian lunch after and it was so so good, you could even bring Tupperware and fill up with any left overs. That is where I learned about different vegetables and roots and also sauces and spices. This cookbook is a blessing for me and I am so excited to try many of the dishes. Stay tuned! Thank you so much for commenting I appreciate it so much and as you can tell I am not short on things to talk about, lol.
      Cheers Loreto!

  • Reply Shelagh September 13, 2016 at 5:11 am

    I would love to have this cookbook. Your review has encouraged me to try cooking this cuisine at home.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto September 13, 2016 at 5:46 am

      This is why we do what we do, to inspire and encourage people to try different things. Walk past the fear and feel free to explore the different ways of cuisine from every pillar to post. It is truly a wonderful journey. I hope you get this book and dive into the world of Chinese cuisine. Thank you Shelagh for your comment and good luck!
      Loreto

  • Reply Jennifer Essad September 15, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    I’m intrigued with this cookbook and would love to try the Stir Fried Beef with Black Pepper recipe, thank you for this amazing giveaway – I liked you on facebook & will sign up for your newsletter too

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto September 19, 2016 at 12:47 am

      Thank you so much Jennifer. You are so spot on with being intrigued by this cook book. It is well written and easy to follow , and so far the recipes have been delicious, like this General Tso’s Chicken. I saw the beef stir fry with black pepper sauce, I drool when I see recipes like this, they get me so hungry!
      Cheers, and a great day for you!
      Loreto

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