It's that time of year again where everyone is making healthier choices and watching their waistlines. I like to think that I try to do this all year long, and not just in January when New Year resolutions are being made. Although there are times we splurge and indulge, it shouldn't be a daily thing, and should be done in moderation. I thought I would share a few "Lighten Up" posts on Pie Birds that we enjoy in our home.
The first is General Tso's Chicken, a Chinese take-out favorite. It is easy to make at home, and with a few little changes, you can lighten up this dish without sacrificing the flavor. We start by switching out the fatty dark chicken thigh meat with lean chicken breast white meat. Then the chicken is pan fried in a small amount of oil (instead of deep fried) and finally, the sauce is made with chicken broth to cut out the extra sugar. Fresh garlic, ginger and scallions add loads of flavor, making your kitchen smell like a Chinese restaurant and your chicken taste amazing. These small changes make a big difference in fat and calories so you can enjoy this dish guilt-free.
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 large egg white
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 pound skinless boneless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon Chinese chile-garlic sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for frying
2 tablespoons very finely chopped fresh ginger
2 large garlic cloves, minced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
Steamed broccoli and white rice, for serving
In a medium bowl, combine the toasted sesame oil with the egg white, 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch. Add the chicken, stirring to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the chicken broth with the chile-garlic sauce, sugar and the remaining 1/4 cup of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.
In a large saucepan, heat the 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the ginger and garlic and cook over high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir the broth mixture, add it to the pan and cook until thickened and glossy, about 3 minutes. Keep the sauce warm over low heat.
In a large, deep skillet, heat 1/2 inch of oil until shimmering. Carefully add the chicken, one piece at a time, and fry over high heat, turning once or twice, until very browned and crisp, about 4 minutes.
Drain the chicken on paper towels.
Immediately add the cooked chicken to the sauce, along with the scallions.
Cook just until coated, about 30 seconds.
Does that look so yummy?
Serve right away, with steamed broccoli and rice.
And there you have a favorite dish, lightened up, so you can enjoy guilt free.