If I want Chinese food around here, I usually have to make it myself. We have one restaurant with a few decent Chinese dishes, but it’s only open a few months a year (when the tourists are here). I used to love eating General Tso’s Chicken, but it’s often fried first and then coated in a sticky sweet sauce that doesn’t really make it heart-healthy or diabetic-friendly. When I saw this recipe for a healthier version in Ching’s Everyday Easy Chinese by Ching-He Huang, I knew I had to try it.
Ching’s recipe is quick and easy, always a plus, but it calls for yellow bean sauce, which I couldn’t find in any of my local markets. In the back of her book, Ching includes a glossary that says yellow bean sauce is “made from fermented yellow soy beans, dark brown sugar and rice wine.” Once I read that, I decided hoisin sauce would be a decent substitute. If you can find yellow bean sauce, by all means, use it.
This delicious dish is both sweet and spicy. It has some heat, but it’s not overpowering. (The Grillmaster’s head didn’t even sweat while he was eating it.) You should serve the chicken with the chiles, but you shouldn’t actually eat the chiles. I’m sure you already knew this, but just in case …
I hope you’re sitting down for this next part. An order of General Tso’s Chicken in a typical Chinese restaurant has more than 844 calories, 40g fat, 2100mg sodium and 60g carb! Ching is my kind of chef – she has managed to shave off more than 570 calories, 30g fat, 970mg sodium and 20g carb without sacrificing taste. Her version is still a bit high in sodium due to all of the bottled items in the sauce. Using low-sodium tamari or soy sauce will help. I prefer tamari to traditional soy sauce because it seems less salty to me and it contains no wheat. You could also skip seasoning the chicken with salt at the beginning.
This recipe is a good source of Protein, Vitamin K, Niacin, Vitamin B6 and Selenium. Serve it with some steamed broccoli, edamame or snap peas. It’s so much healthier than what you’d get in a restaurant and almost as easy as ordering take-out!
Adapted from Ching’s Everyday Easy Chinese by Ching-He Huang
2 Tbsp low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp Thai chili sauce
1 tsp light brown sugar
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into ½-inch cubes
ground white pepper
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp peanut oil
1 clove garlic, minced
4 dried red chiles
1 Tbsp dry sherry
4 scallions, chopped
In a small bowl, combine ingredients for the sauce. Mix well and set aside.
In a medium bowl, place chicken and season with salt and white pepper. Add cornstarch and mix well. Set aside.
Heat a wok over high heat, then add peanut oil. Add garlic and red chiles, stirring for a few seconds, then add chicken. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes. When chicken begins to turn opaque, add the sherry. Cook for another couple of minutes, then add the sauce and bring the mixture to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium and cook until chicken is done and sauce has thickened, another minute or two. Turn off heat and stir in scallions. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 servings
Per serving: 271 calories, 9g fat (1g sat), 69mg cholesterol, 1122mg sodium, 18g carb, 2g fiber, 8g sugar, 29g protein
Disclosure: I received a free review copy of Ching’s Everyday Healthy Chinese by Ching-He Huang from HarperCollins Publishers.
This recipe has been linked to The Hopeless Housewife’s Link Party.