Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Double-header: General Tso's Chicken and Veggie Lo Mein

I think it's safe to say that it's no surprise that two of my favorite things to order in a Chinese restaurant are also two of the most fat and calorie-laden choices. It's nice how things work out like that.

Given those circumstances, it's also fairly safe to say that these two items are high on my list of things to master cooking and to lighten up. :)

As you know, I have the cookbook collecting bug and have recently been trying to make actual use out of the ones I have rather than letting them taunt me from the bookshelves with their glossy pictures and their "someday" potential.

I dug out one of the few Weight Watchers cookbooks that I've actually cooked out of before -- Take-Out Tonight, which is an excellent source of . . . you guessed it, take-out favorites.

There was a recipe for General Tso's Chicken in there I wanted to try, since I had decided I was going to cook dinner for my friends when they got here Friday night. I found the recipe and was promptly paralyzed by the list of ingredients. And then, as if the book had anticipated my anxiety, the "clever cook's tip" box at the bottom of the page told me I had a quick alternative -- bottled stir-fry sauce. Yay! So using their shortcut method and what I had at home, I came up with a version of General Tso's Chicken that meets my weeknight dinner criteria -- quick, versatile, and flavorful.

General Tso's Chicken

Adapted from Weight Watchers Take-Out Tonight: 150+ Restaurant Favorites to Make at Home

Serves 4-5 people

1.5 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1.5 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 cup stir-fry sauce -- I used a spicy Szechwan sauce
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 scallions, chopped
2-3 cups of your choice of veggies -- I used broccoli florets and shredded carrots
1-2 tsp. dark sesame oil
soy sauce to taste

Take the chicken pieces and add to 1 tbsp. cornstarch and 3 tbsp. of the stir-fry sauce, mixing thoroughly and letting chicken marinate for at least 5 minutes.

Combine the remaining stir-fry sauce, cornstarch, sesame oil, and soy sauce in a separate bowl and set aside.

Heat a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add oil, once heated add ginger, garlic, and scallions. Cook for a minute or so, then add the chicken and marinade and stir-fry for a couple minutes, until the chicken begins to brown. Add the vegetables and stir-fry until crisp-tender. Now add the sauce ingredients and stir-fry as the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, about 1-2 minutes. Make sure chicken is cooked through!

And now for the lo mein . . . which is one of my throw some stuff in a pan concoctions

Veggie Lo Mein

Serves 4-5 people

NOTE: all measurements are approximate, adjust for your personal preference

8 oz. angel hair or vermicelli pasta, broken in half
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1-2 tsp ginger paste
3 scallions, chopped
approx. 2 tbsp soy sauce (more if needed)
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp teriyaki sauce (optional)
3 cups veggies -- I used frozen Japanese blend veggies and fresh coleslaw mix
2 tsp dark sesame oil
1 tsp cornstarch

Boil water for pasta. While this is going on, heat the oil in a large nonstick pan. Then add garlic, ginger, and scallions and stir fry for a minute or so. Add the veggies and stir fry for a minute. Add sauces and keep stir-frying until veggies are crisp tender. Set aside.

Cook the pasta, and drain. Reheat the pan with veggies and add the pasta, making sure to combine all ingredients thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Take the cornstarch in a small bowl and add water until you get a slurry. Add this to the pan and stir to coat and heat through. Add the sesame oil at the very end and toss.


Anonymous said...

OMG! That food was so good! I'm so happy you have the recipe here, although I'm sure it won't be as good as yours was. You're an awesome chef and you have a real knack for making things your own!
Love ya!

Brandi said...

I love that WW recipe - it's so good!

Your lo mein looks awesome. I may need to try that soon :)

Sweetie Pie said...

Oh gosh! A lightened up recipe for good ol' General Tso. Thanks for sharing it. I might have to try that the next time I am wanting Chinese take-out!

Have a great weekend!!

Lunch Buckets said...

Slaw mix in the low mein? That's a great idea!

Spiceaholic said...

Amy -- Thanks! I'm sure it'll turn out just as good when you make it.

Brandi & Sweetie Pie -- thanks!

Lunch Buckets -- I love using coleslaw mix in Asian dishes, it's so convenient.