I have always wanted to cook the Chinese dish General Tso’s Chicken. It has always been a favorite of my sons when we order from the Chinese take-out menu. But each time we order from different restaurants, I noticed the General Tso chicken’s colors had varied hues of red and the taste and textures were not consistent. I knew we had been eating the Americanized General Tso’s Chicken far too long. There was a better way to serve this dish to my family, I said to myself. So I have been in search of an authentic recipe for a long time. That search is over. I found the right recipe in the cookbook Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees.
My good friend, fellow IACP member and award-winning author Chef Kian Lam Kho sent me his beautiful cookbook Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees: Essential Techniques of Authentic Chinese Cooking. It is a cookbook that helps you learn how to properly cook authentic Chinese food. This is definitely the book for serious culinary aficionados. I am not surprised this cookbook has won highly coveted and prestigious awards in the culinary industry.
What makes this recipe different? This one is savory and spicy altogether. Do not expect a sweet, red dish which is likely the westernized version. The cookbook itself is for the culinary enthusiast who takes traditional cooking to heart.
In the cookbook’s recipe Chef Kian says “This version of General Tso’s Chicken resembles the original created by Peng Chang-Kuei in Taiwan. It is not a traditional Hunan dish, but the technique and flavors are inspired by the chef’s Hunan background. It is NOT as sweet as the American version, and is laced with lots of garlic.”
As I swirled the hot oil inside the shiny Anolon braiser, I dropped the chicken cubes coated with cornstarch and watched the sizzle of the deep frying method in awe. The aroma and the sound of the chicken popping was enough to elicit questions from my family “What’s happening in the kitchen?”
While the newly deep-fried chicken cubes were draining on parchment paper, I prepared the sauce paying close attention to the recipe’s instructions. The dark brown sauce mixture was salty and took on a shiny glazed, thick texture once I reduced it in the Anolon. I quickly added back the chicken cubes, sprinkled the sliced scallions all around and called my family to the table. This is a dish you want to serve while it is warm and the chicken has its crunch. The silky, savory sauce sent out a soft, fragrant aroma of hoisin and soy sauce combined while I arranged the entrée at the center of the table with a bowl of boiled rice. The Anolon cookware was so breathtaking that it is a piece you can cook in and bring straight to the table, while looking elegant and magnificent.
Give this recipe and the cookbook a try. Not just once but for a few times in the kitchen. After all, one does not always get to perfect a dish at the first attempt. When you do, you will wonder why you didn’t discover this version of a crisp, spicy-savory General Tso sooner.
To make my kitchen experience with this cookbook more enjoyable, Anolon sent me a gorgeous, elegant stainless steel Anolon Covered Braiser to make the dish with. This is a 13-inch, heavy duty two-piece gourmet cookware.
I’d like to share the same wonderful kitchen experience with you, my readers, too. So I am giving not just one, but TWO GIVEAWAYS to two lucky winners. There will be two chances to win. You can win a free copy of the cookbook Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees or a free Anolon Stainless Steel and Aluminum 3-Quart Covered Braiser.
How to win the Giveaway:
- Leave a comment below and tell me why you like Chinese dishes like General Tso’s chicken.
- If you can, share this blog post on any of the following: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram or Pinterest with your friends telling them about the giveaway. Please include a link to this blog post.
*I will pick two random winners on October 10, 2015. *Contest ends on October 9. This is for USA entries only.
Cookbook cover photo provided by Chef Kian Lam Kho.
*The giveaway offer has ended as of October 9, 2016. Winners will be notified soon. Thanks for participating.