I love it when recipes enter our culinary zeitgeist under a shroud of mystery. The Indian dish Chicken 65 is one example - was it #65 on the menu of a now closed restaurant? Does it have 65 ingredients? General Tso’s Chicken is another example. The theories on its origin vary. Some say it’s a traditional Hunan dish, while two competing restaurants in New York City claim to be the first to serve it.
We may never know the truth. It’ll remain as much of a mystery as what lies beyond the event horizon of a black hole, or why cats are the way that they are, or how magnets work. What we do know is that the dish is comprised of crispy chicken coated in a sweet and spicy sauce. So here’s my version of General Tso’s Chicken with a twist - it’s made with tofu (though you could substitute chicken if you like).
You will need:
- 1 14 oz package firm tofu
- 3 tbsp flour
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup broccoli or ½ cup peas and/or carrots
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1" piece ginger, grated
- 1 stalk green onion, sliced
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- sesame seeds, for serving
For the sauce:
- 3 tbsp ketchup
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp Vietnamese chili garlic sauce
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp cornstarch
Start by cubing the tofu into 1" pieces and laying on paper towels to dry. Coat the tofu pieces lightly in flour and fry in the vegetable oil over medium heat until light brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
Next, cook your vegetables in a small pot of boiling water and set aside. I used frozen peas and carrots for convenience sake.
In a separate bowl, combine the sauce ingredients and whisk until smooth.
Heat the sesame oil in a wok or large pan over medium heat and add the garlic, ginger and green onions. Stir for about a minute. (Here’s a tip - ginger keeps very well frozen. When I need fresh ginger, I pull it out of the ziploc bag I keep in my freezer and grate what I need over a microplane. I end up with what looks like ginger snow, and it works beautifully.)
Add the vegetables and stir for 2 minutes.
Next add the sauce. Once it bubbles, gently add the tofu and toss to coat. Serve on rice with a sprinkling of sesame seeds. As you eat it, try to imagine your own version of this recipe’s origin.