General Tso chicken is kind of a funny thing. You won’t hear anybody (at least not that I know) try to argue the cultural validity of the dish, but at the same time, you won’t find many people who don’t simply love the stuff. With very few variations at the “China Woks” and “Empire Palaces” of the chinese food world, it’s no wonder it’s an american favorite. Fried pieces of dark meat smothered in a silky sweet and spicy sauce served with white rice and some steamed broccoli may be what you were looking for, but don’t forget, my version was supposed to be a re-do!
And a top chef like re-do (is there anything better than those “classic to new twist” challenges) is only successful if the familiarity is not immediately obvious. Only after a few bites, should the meal guide your thoughts to the “ah ha” moment. Well, bite by bite, flavor by flavor, and texture by texture, my version of general tso chicken really worked!
First I roasted the broccoli lightly seasoned with a chinese five spice blend. Using this broccoli, held together loosely by egg and bread crumbs, as the filling for these chicken breast roulades brought the bold flavors of the general tso chicken into each and every bite. Developing the sauce from soy, ginger, garlic, sugar, and a touch of sesame oil, I wanted to ensure the chicken breast was sufficiently coated without a goopy mess so typical of the dish’s inspiration. With just a hint of spice coming from fresh chilis, and a bit of roasted scallion for garnish, my general tso chicken was only missing one thing! Toasted rice cakes not only added the starch so needed for a good chinese dish, but even more importantly added a bit of crunch we so love in the classic, from those crispy fried chicken pieces.
I’m really liking this idea of classic re-dos, so stay tuned for much more to come! Any dishes you want to see re-done?