I've been watching 'Chinese Food Made Easy' on The Cooking Channel and love Ching He-Huang recipes. They look good, healthy and quick. My husband and I joke and call her 'Shaoshing Rice Wine' because it's one of her most-used ingredients.
Then my friend Mumtaz gifts me her book and every recipe looked like I wanted to make it now!
Today I made General Tso's chicken from her cookbook. It was delicious and definitely a recipe worth blogging and repeating, except it wasn't what we expected. However, Ching does say that everyone has a different version of it.
Here is a fun piece of information that she shares with us in her book: Its inventor was from Hunan, a chef named Peng-Chang Kuei who fled with the Nationalist Party to Taiwan during the Second World War. Cooking for state banquets and official events for the Nationalist Party, he first came up with this dish in the 1950's, calling it after the a Hunanese general from the Qing dynasty. Its original flavors were typically Hunanese– hot, sour, salty and heavy– but when he moved to New York in 1973, he adapted the recipe for the American palate. Peng was a friend of Henry Kissinger and it was he who believed to have popularized Hunan cuisine in America. The dish's popularity has spread back to China where, ironically, Hunan chefs now claim it as a speciality of their region!
The taste should be sweet and spicy with a slight zing from the chilies– Sichuan sun-dried chilies if you can find them. You might be surprised by the use of ketchup, you can also use tomato purée if you prefer, adding a bit of sugar.
Although I am fast in the kitchen, I was skeptical of the prep and cook time mentioned below. But after making this dish, without rushing it, I can vouch for the fact that it is indeed true! If you're buying chicken from a butcher, ask him to slice it for you ready for a stir-fry. Makes it even quicker!
Below is the recipe with minor tweaks. It called for dark and light soy sauce, but since I just had regular soy sauce that is what I used.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 9 minutes
Serves: 2–4 to share
2 skinless boneless chicken breasts or 4 thighs, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tbsp potato flour or cornstarch
1 tbsp of peanut oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 dried red chilies
1 tbsp of Shaoshing rice wine or dry sherry
4 scallions, chopped into 1-inch lengths
For the sauce
1 tbsp of yellow bean sauce
2 tbsp of light soy sauce
1 tbsp of tomato ketchup
1 tbsp of chili sauce (I used Sriracha)
1 tsp of light brown sugar or honey
- Place the chicken in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the cornstarch and mix well.
- Place the ingredients for the sauce in another bowl and sit together.
- Heat a wok over high heat until it starts to smoke and then add the peanut oil.
- Add the garlic and dried chilies and fry for a few seconds, then add the chicken and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
- As the chicken starts to turn opaque, add the rice wine or dry sherry. Cook for another 2 minutes, then pour in the sauce and bring to a boil.
- Cook the chicken in the sauce for an additional 2 minutes, or until it is cooked through and the sauce has reduced and thickened until it slightly sticky.
- Add the scallions and cook for just under 1 minute, then transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately.