Monday, September 20, 2010

Lighter General Tso's Chicken

I have a weakness quick takeout food like Chinese and neighborhood pizza (by "neighborhood" I mean locally owned businesses, not national chains).  When possible, I also love to pick up Thai or Vietnamese.  There's something about the salty, slightly-greasy flavor of not-so-healthy takeout food that is really appealing after a long day at work.  As much as I love to cook, I will break down and buy a $7.99 neighborhood pizza and enjoy it with a bottle of wine or indulge in a couple of Chinese takeout combos with fried rice every now and then.

General Tso's Chicken is one of those yummy Chinese takeout food choices that you know isn't good for you.  The chicken is fried and then doused in this sweet and spicy sauce.  As far as vegetables, you're lucky if they put three broccoli florets in your takeout dish.  Yummy?  Yes.  Good for you?  No.

I've recently started following Good Things Catered and in searching through the archives I found this recipe for Lighter General Tso's Chicken.  The recipe was originally featured in Everyday Food.  I made this a few weeks ago when fresh green beans were still plentiful at the roadside markets in my area.  You can get fresh green beans all year at the grocery store and I highly recommend fresh over frozen.  The original recipe didn't call for any veggies, but I was trying to made this a bit healthier. 

I enjoyed this dish.  My husband found it to be a bit sweet, but I don't agree.  Plus, it must not have been too bad because we ate it all and there were no leftovers for lunch the next day!  I love the way the sauce thickens up like real Chinese takeout with the addition of cornstarch.  This was easy to make and the only fresh ingredient I had to pick up on my way home from work was green beans. 

Here's my adaptation of Lighter General Tso's Chicken

Lighter General Tso's Chicken
as seen on Good Things Catered, originally from Everyday Food, modified by Keeley

1 Tbsp cornstarch
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated and peeled
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
2 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp red-pepper flakes
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 3), cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2" pieces
1 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Fresh steamed rice for serving

-In medium bowl, add 1 Tbsp cornstarch and 1/2 c. cold water until smooth; set aside.
-Add garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, and red-pepper flakes.
-Toss to combine, and set aside.
-In a work or large skillet, over medium heat, heat oils to almost smoking.
-Meanwhile, season chicken pieces well with salt and pepper.
-Stir pan to coat bottom with oil and add seasoned chicken pieces.
-Once bottom side cooks through, about 3 minutes, flip chicken pieces to cook other side.
-Cook chicken until almost done, then toss in green beans.
-Cook for about 3 minutes until chicken is done and green beans are crisp-tender.
-Turn to almost high heat, add cornstarch mixture and stir to combine well.
-Finish cooking, stirring constantly, until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened.
-Remove from heat and serve on fresh steamed rice.


  1. I love some takeout too...nice way to lighten it up!

  2. We love us some takeout Chinese but we always regret it the next day (hello salt and poofy face!). I am going to try your recipe ... looks delicious in the photo.


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