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General Tso's "Chicken" (Vegan)
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General Tso's Vegan "Chicken"

A delicious spin on an American Chinese take-out dish. You'd never guess this vegan General Tso "Chicken" wasn't the real deal. Easy to make and great to enjoy!
Course Entree
Cuisine Asian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 14 oz package of firm or extra firm tofu, pressed and cubed (see note)
  • kosher salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup orange juice freshly squeezed, preferably
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth chicken broth is okay if you're not vegan
  • 2 cups canola or peanut oil for frying
  • 1 tbsp  cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp  rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 4 green onions thinly sliced (1 tbsp reserved for garnish)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 " piece of fresh ginger minced
  • 2 small oriental chili peppers dried are perfect

Accompaniments:

  • Jasmine rice
  • Stir-fried broccoli florets or green beans

Instructions

  • Liberally season the cubed tofu with salt and pepper. I typically use 1 tbsp of salt and 2 tsps of black pepper, but feel free to adjust to your taste. Set aside.
  • In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of cornstarch, the orange juice and vegetable stock. Mix with your fingers to ensure you have the right consistency. It should cover your fingers with a slightly-opaque coating.   If the batter feels like sand in the middle, or is too stiff, add more broth; but don't add more than 1/4 cup of orange juice or the tofu will taste too sweet. Set aside.
  • In a large frying pan or wok (I ain't gotta a wok), heat the canola oil over medium high heat. Add a drop of the cornstarch batter to test the oil's temp. It should begin to sizzle and rise to the top within 3 seconds. 
  • Place a handful of tofu cubes into the cornstarch batter and coat each piece evenly. It will feel funny because the cornstarch tends to lump up, however, when you remove the tofu, the excess should run off freely. Carefully place the tofu pieces into the hot oil. This may get messy, but don't crowd your pan; you want to make sure the temperature of the oil doesn't drop so low that it causes the tofu's coating to turn soggy (yuck).
  •   Once you've added all the batch of tofu you're working with, allow them to fry, undisturbed, for 3-4 minutes. You should be able to turn them without struggling to release them from the pan. If you find yourself having to tug at them or scrape them from the pan, leave them to fry a little while longer. Prying them from the pan may cause the batter to separate and make your "chicken" look ugly. 
  • Fry the tofu for a total of 8 minutes. After frying carefully remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. No need to keep them warm as you will reheat them in the sauce. Repeat the battering and frying process until you've cooked all the tofu. *If your cornstarch batter begins to dry out, add more broth to thin it*
  • Once all of your tofu has been fried, empty your pan of all but 1 tbsp of the oil. Set aside (off the heat) while you mix the ingredients for your sauce.
  • In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the cornstarch and the sugar. Whisk together to combine before adding the broth, tamari, orange juice, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and orange zest. Whisk well to ensure the cornstarch is lump free and well-blended.
  • Heat your pan, or wok, over high heat and stir fry the greens onions for 1 minute. Add the garlic, ginger and the peppers. Try not to stand directly over the pan after you add the peppers or the fumes make make you wheeze! Fry for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  • Add the sauce liquid and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken, stirring constantly to prevent it from sticking. If the sauces thickens too much, thin it with a tbsp of water until it reaches the consistency of pancake syrup.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the fried tofu.
  • Warm the tofu for 3-4 minutes. 
  • Spoon over cooked rice and serve with steamed broccoli that's been sautéed with garlic and ginger in a bit of sesame oil.

Notes

  •  Firm tofu is usually pretty well-pressed. Since we want to make this as close to real chicken as possible, I press it a second time after draining it. I don't eat tofu often enough to justify investing in a tofu press, so I place the drained tofu into a fine mesh colander and set a clean plate on top of it. Then I find the heaviest object in my kitchen (a granite mortar and pestle) and put that on top of the plate to gently squeeze any remaining moisture out of the tofu. Sense& Edibility's GEN Tso's Vegan Chicken I pat dry with a paper towel and it's ready to use.
  • The chili peppers mentioned here are commonly found in the ethnic food's section of your supermarket. Dried chilies are perfect for this because you don't have to stress about using them up before they go bad. Since they sit in the liquids for a time, and are later cooked in the liquids, they'll rehydrate and release just enough heat to enhance the dish.