Challenge accepted and completed!
OMG, I can eat this? aims to reconstruct your favorite No Go meals and turn them into delights you can chow down on without feeling terribly afterward.
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A little while ago, we issued a challenge: to see what you have been SALTing at home. The winner of that competition was Kate whose prize was a professional SALTing job: Create a healthy version of her favorite indulgence – General Tso’s Chicken.
Now, for those of us who didn’t grow up in North America, General Tso’s Chicken is not something we’re familiar with. It’s definitely a westernized dish that’s cloyingly sweet, incredibly salty and deep fried. That’s also what makes it so addictive.
This dish was named for a Qing dynasty military leader but there isn’t a definitive conclusion on when it was invented, but one claim is that a Chinese chef who fled to Taiwan and then moved to New York in the 1970s created the dish for American palates.
Smart man. If this was true, he positioned this squarely in the sweet x sour x salty region and rounded it out with some spice. It’s this combination, I think, that makes this dish so addictive. The smoky chili is immediately softened by the sugar which is enhanced by the salt and the crunch adds the textural element that our mouths crave.
So, if we were to SALT this, we still need to maintain the balance of sweet, salty and spicy and add some sort of crunch because, let’s be honest, we ain’t deep frying this.
I’ve actually attempted this twice. The first time, I did a relatively faithful recreation of the sauce thickened the traditional way so that it coats the pieces of meat. I found that to be too much because I wanted to grill the chicken to add smoky flavor to the mix and the clingy sauce just took over like a bad relationship.
So, I dialed it back to its base components and took it back to more of a simple dipping sauce and DAAAMN son, that did it. The salty sweet flavor profile shone through in a more pure form, without having to compete with starchiness.
Being me, I also needed to add a lot of vegetables to this and took inspiration from the most impressive Teriyaki Chicken dish I’ve ever seen which was by the skilled chefs at Nare Sushi in midtown Manhattan. They presented it like a beautiful roast dinner with the fixings (in the form of roasted vegetables). This led me to plate like this:
Pretty, huh? It was so deliciously good, too. Try it out:
General Tso's Grilled Chicken – ‘OMG, I can eat this?’ series
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 serves
Maintaining the balance of sweet, salty and spicy in the original, but lightened, grilled and veg'ed!
Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
Combine the chicken ingredients together in a bowl. Leave to marinate while you work on everything else.
Mix the miso paste, Japanese pepper and sesame oil. Brush onto zucchini slices and carrots and place on pan lined with baking paper. Roast for 25 mins, flipping halfway.
In a saucepan over medium heat, make the sauce by heating the oil then adding the garlic, ginger and chili until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer, then pull off the heat and set aside.
Heat a grill pan or heavy fry pan. Toss the bok choy in salt and sesame oil then grill, being sure to char each side. Set aside.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry with paper towel. Make one slice from the bottom of the breast into the thickest part of the meat about 2 inches in. Add a touch of oil and rub it in to the breasts. Grill until cooked through, turning the meat 90 degrees before flipping then turning again. Allow to rest while you plate everything else.
Construct the plate by laying down a bed of bok choy and arranging the vegetables. Slice the chicken on an angle and then arrange half of a single breast on top of the bok choy. Serve sauce on the side.
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