Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lighter General Tso's Chicken

I’ve always been a fan of Martha Stewart. I love her style, her crafts, her perfectionism. But I never delved very deeply into her recipes. The few that I perused in her magazine while waiting in line in the grocery store, were too long, too complicated and called for exotic ingredients that I don’t normally keep in my kitchen and might have to spend some time tracking down.

Then, last spring when I was on my soup kick, I discovered her website. What an eye-opener! There are a lot of simple recipes, easy to make, that don’t require expensive or scarce ingredients. Now, when I am searching for a recipe, Martha Stewart’s site is one of my regular stops.

Sometimes, I just poke around for fun. I find lots of interesting recipes like Lighter General Tso’s Chicken. Who doesn’t like General Tso’s Chicken? And in this case “lighter” apparently means using egg whites instead of breading. I printed it out and tucked it away until I figured out a way to use the leftover egg yolks. I just hate wasting ingredients!

When I finally got around to making the Candy-Corn Cookies which use egg yolks, I first went through my recipe basket looking for a recipe that used egg whites. This recipe was a perfect fit. I made it first. After separating the eggs, I put the yolks into the same containers that I use to store seeds, one yolk per container to be used later in the cookie batter.

Coating the chicken with the egg white mixture was no problem. It was cooking it where I ran into trouble. The egg whites wouldn’t stick to the chicken. They ran off of the top of the chicken while the bottom was cooking. When I turned it, it all stuck to together.

My other complaint was the taste. I didn’t have fresh ginger so I substituted 1 teaspoon of dried ginger. Maybe that made a difference but this didn’t taste like any General Tso’s Chicken that I have ever eaten. It’s delicious spicy chicken, but it’s not General Tso’s Chicken.

I liked the snow peas but in my opinion, 1 pound is too much. I bought an 8 oz package of snow peas and it was the perfect amount. 1 pound of snow peas would have overwhelmed the chicken, making it more General Tso’s Snow Peas than General Tso’s Chicken.

Verdict: Not bad, but I won’t be making this again.

Lighter General Tso’s Chicken

(source: Martha Stewart)

1 ¼ cups long-grain brown rice
¼ cup cornstarch
1 pound snow peas, trimmed and halved crosswise
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated and peeled
3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 large egg whites
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower

Cook rice according to package instructions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon cornstarch and ½ cup cold water until smooth. Add snow peas, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, and red-pepper flakes; toss to combine, and set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together egg whites, remaining 3 tablespoons cornstarch, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add chicken, and toss to coat.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Lift half the chicken from egg white mixture (shaking off excess), and add to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining oil and chicken, and set aside (reserve skillet).

Add snow-pea mixture to skillet. Cover; cook until snow peas are tender and sauce has thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Return chicken to skillet (with any juices); toss to coat. Serve with rice.

Recycle: soy sauce bottle, vegetable oil bottle

Compost: snow pea strings, garlic skins, ginger peels, egg shells

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