Sweet and Spicy!
I like to apply my creativity to many areas in life. One of those areas exists in the kitchen. While I am no means a chef, I do have a few dishes that I am proud of and strongly believe in. One of my best dishes is General Tso’s Chicken. No doubt General Tso’s Chicken is a dish that is not authentic Chinese, but that doesn’t make it any less tasty. In fact, I must say that a lot of North American Chinese food can be quite amazing, even though it is simply inspired by Chinese dishes. Regardless of the origin of a dish I like, I usually seek out a recipe, then make it my own by adjusting and experimenting. I suppose my version of General Tso’s Chicken is quite a bit different than any dish of the same name in a restaurant, but that’s okay. That’s what creativity should be about: experimenation.
So in this entry I’d like to offer a recipe for another dish I’ve recently created. While this dish is inspired by my General Tso’s dish, it is still quite unique. Perhaps you can try this recipe out for yourself and help me come up with a name for it. If you like sweet and spicy Asian brown sauces, you might just want to give this one a try the next time you’re in the mood. I doubt you’ll regret it.
For the sauce, you will need the following ingredients:
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp ginger root*
Mince the garlic and shred and mince the ginger root. Keep the two separate. Also, if you want to add even more spice to your sauce, you can chop up a hot chili pepper and combine it with the garlic. I haven’t added a chili pepper the last few times I’ve made the sauce, and the sauce still turns out spicy because I add chili paste.
*Regarding the ginger root, I can tell you right now that my wife loves the stuff. If you feel the same, I would consider you add another tablespoon of it to the sauce. Ginger root is simply amazing stuff, and it does a number to sauces.
In a large bowl, combine the following ingredients:
- 5 tbsp chili paste**
- 3 heaping tbsp hoisin sauce (or just use 4 tbsp if you prefer)
- 2½ tbsp rice vinegar (you can use 3 for simplicity’s sake, if you’d rather)
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce (this might be a bit much, so do a little less if you don’t like the stuff)
- 4 tbsp corn starch
- 1¼ cup water
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 6 tbsp soy sauce (use good stuff like Kikkoman!)
- 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp rice wine
- 1 tsp sesame oil
As you can tell based on the list above, I’ve experimented and haven’t gotten the ingredients down to a precise measurement, but going by the list as is, you probably will get close to the best results. Your mileage may vary, of course. Also, for a little bit of a friendly kick to your sauce, if you have any Sriracha sauce, squirt a little of that into the bowl.
**If for some reason the store you buy from only has chili paste with garlic as opposed to chili paste without garlic, that’s fine. I would simply advise you use less garlic to even it out a little.
The ingredients in the bowl will need a good stirring before you pour them into the pan.
Now you’re ready get things warmed up and cooking!
- In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, warm the cooking oil for about 30 seconds.
- Add the garlic (and chili pepper if you chose to use one). Heat for about 30 seconds to one minute, stirring regularly.
- Add the ginger root and cook for no more than 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
- Add all other ingredients from the bowl into the sauce pan. After about three or four minutes, reduce heat to medium-low, and stir regularly until sauce thickens. The sauce will be somewhat runny, not like gravy, but this is okay.
You will see the garlic and ginger root rise to the top of the sauce. This is fine. Just remember to stir the sauce regularly because it will thicken before you know it. If, when you empty the sauce from the pan, there is thicker sauce stuck to the bottom of the pan, that’s okay. Just spoon it out and mix it with the rest of the sauce (assuming it has not burned to the pan). The sauce will come together very well and, if you have rice, it will soak wonderfully in it.
While the sauce is just part of the dish, I wanted you to first see the recipe for the sauce in case you were coming up with ideas for what you’d like the sauce to go on. If you don’t have any ideas and want to go with my suggestions, read on. If not, I hope you love the sauce on your dish!
If you have any suggestions for additions to this dish, please offer them in the comments section. I am always grateful for advice and techniques, because I want to learn how to make the best dish for the right occasion.
To make the ingredients listed below, I recommend you use a wok. I’ve had the privilege of working with a gas stove for a while now, so I’ve used a cast iron wok that I’ve seasoned after each meal. To learn how to season your wok, I highly recommend dennisminnick’s YouTube video. If you use an electric stove, that’s just fine. There are many woks designed for both electric and gas stoves. If you get a wok with a non-stick surface, never use steel cooking utensils. I would advise using something gentle, or a wooden spoon. Still, I would advise that if you’re interested in purchasing a wok and you have an electric stove, get something other than non-stick, ideally stainless steel.
Based on the variety of diets today, it can be hard to please everyone. My wife and I are not regular meat-eaters. In fact, I eat only poultry and fish. It’s really a personal choice based on a few factors that I choose this diet, but I’m comfortable with it. I honestly admire anyone who takes on the vegetarian or vegan diet, but I’ve yet to make that choice.
With that in mind, here’s the list of ingredients for the dish:
- 3 tbsp oil for cooking
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine
- 2 or 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (preferably free range), cut into small cubes (about one inch)
- 2 red peppers, cut into slices
- 1 or 2 fresh broccoli crowns, cut into florets
- 3 carrots, sliced thin (the picture shows more than 3 because my carrots were small)
- 15 cremini mushrooms, cut into quarters
Does this list look good? Great! I was hoping you’d like it. Assuming you’ve done the prepping, now you’re ready to stir fry.
- In the wok, warm one tablespoon of the cooking oil over medium heat for 10–30 seconds.
- Add the garlic, soy sauce, and rice wine.
- Immediately add the chicken and cook it through. When the chicken is thoroughly cooked, remove it from the wok (use a glass bowl), but keep most of the juices in the wok.
- Add the rest of the cooking oil and all the vegetables except the mushrooms. Stir fry the vegetables for a few minutes until they have softened up some (usually up to seven minutes depending on your stove).
- Add the cooked chicken and the mushrooms. Stir fry for one minute.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the cooked sauce. Stir constantly for a minute or two.
That’s it! You should now be able to feed six people easily with your beautiful creation. But remember, no dish like this should be served as is. The perfect complement to every Asian dish is rice. I recommend you pair the dish with Jasmine rice. If you can, use a rice cooker. It’s just so much easier than cooking rice on the stove, and the results are always satisfying. You can buy a rice cooker for quite cheap these days, and the extra couple dollars you spend on the larger size (usually 10 cups of rice) can be worth it.
What also can be an excellent complement to this dish is coconut rice. My wife would have it no other way, and I must admit, it does excellent with both the sweetness and spiciness of the dish. To make coconut rice in a rice cooker, check this simple recipe.
Thank you, and enjoy!
Be sure to comment, especially if you try this recipe out. Also, if you have any suggestions or recipes for me, please let me know. I always appreciate new ideas. Until next recipe, happy eating!Blog, Cooking. Bookmark the permalink.