Friday, May 4 –
To tell you the truth, I thought that there would be more interest in this potluck. Maybe Chinese food is so accessible in this city that it wasn’t as interesting? I don’t know. We had five people this time: ZombieMode (lychee vodka drinks), BestieExtraordinaire (shrimp and veggie stir-fry), GingerNuts (crab rangoon), and NoPoots. I made general tso’s chicken and rice.
Making the general tso’s chicken was an interesting process. First, you coat the chicken in an egg and cornstarch mix. Then you fry them, cool them, and then fry them again (just like regular fried, battered chicken). It was a little deceiving though, because the recipe tells you to watch for it to turn light brown the first time and then deep brown the second time. The cornstarch didn’t really turn light brown the first time, but the chicken did. The second time the cornstarch and chicken both turned a nice golden brown color, so it was easier to tell when it was done. If you aren’t used to frying chicken, that’s definitely something to pay attention to. The sauce was incredibly easy to make, following exactly as the recipe is written. I did change the amounts a little, however, and would probably recommend doing the same. The recipe calls for 1.5 pounds of chicken for one batch of sauce and I made 2.5 pounds of chicken for two batches of sauce – and it was barely enough. I would recommend making double the sauce it says for the same amount of chicken (if you like yours gooey and saucy like I do).
The lychee vodka drinks were a little sweet for me, but I’m not such a huge fan of lychee flavor. ZombieMode and GingerNuts seemed to like them quite a bit. BestieExtraordinaire was drinking sake and NoPoots and I drank wine. The crab rangoon was good, but by the time we got to eat it they were a little soggy. Unfortunately, GingerNuts lives pretty far from us, so sitting in a Tupperware for the drive wasn’t very kind to them. If they had been crispy, they would have been amazing. Real crab meat in them makes a huge difference! The shrimp and veggie stir-fry was really good. He used rice noodles to make them gluten free, and the texture of the veggies and the shrimp was a perfect combo. And finally, the general tso’s… was AMAZING. That recipe makes the flavor exactly like the best I’ve had at some of the restaurants around here. If you like the flavor of the sauce, I would highly recommend saving this one. I will be making it again soon with sauteed chicken rather than fried. Double yum!
Like last week, I was taking these photos as quickly as I could so people could eat. I apologize for them being so hurried. Food quality before photo quality in my house, so if you want to enjoy the full experience you will just have to come over! The next dinner will also be a potluck for Columbia (Sat. 5/12). Hopefully more people will come to keep the potluck idea alive for some of these dinners. Stay tuned for more amazing dishes!
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.allrecipes.com)
General Tsao’s Chicken II
- 4 cups vegetable oil for frying
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1 pinch white pepper
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons chopped green onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 6 dried whole red chilies
- 1 strip orange zest
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3 tablespoons chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/4 cup water
Heat 4 cups vegetable oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Beat the egg in a mixing bowl. Add the chicken cubes; sprinkle with salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, and white pepper; mix well. Mix in 1 cup of cornstarch a little bit at a time until the chicken cubes are well coated.
In batches, carefully drop the chicken cubes into the hot oil one by one, cooking until they turns golden brown and begin to float, about 3 minutes. Remove the chicken and allow to cool as you fry the next batch. Once all of the chicken has been fried, refry the chicken, starting with the batch that was cooked first. Cook until the chicken turns deep golden brown, about 2 minutes more. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Stir in the green onion, garlic, whole chiles, and orange zest. Cook and stir a minute or two until the garlic has turned golden and the chiles brighten. Add 1/2 cup sugar, the ginger, chicken broth, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and peanut oil; bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes.
Dissolve 2 teaspoons of cornstarch into the water, and stir into the boiling sauce. Return to a boil and cook until the sauce thickens and is no longer cloudy from the cornstarch, about 1 minute. Stir the chicken into the boiling sauce. Reduce heat to low and cook for a few minutes until the chicken absorbs some of the sauce.