General Tso’s chicken goes vegan

Healthy eating: A Chinese American favourite you can recreate at home

A Chinese classic, adapted to a vegan diet.

A Chinese classic, adapted to a vegan diet.

 

TV chef and food writer Ching-He Huang has adapted General Tso’s chicken, a staple of Chinese restaurants across the US, to suit a vegan diet, using cauliflower and sweetcorn. It’s a good alternative to a takeaway and the final installment in our #ITHealthMonth recipe series.

January is Health Month in The Irish Times. Throughout the month, in print and online, we will be offering encouragement and inspiration to help us all improve our physical and mental health in 2021. See irishtimes.com/health
January is Health Month in The Irish Times. Throughout the month, in print and online, we will be offering encouragement and inspiration to help us all improve our physical and mental health in 2021. See irishtimes.com/health

“There are many variations of this recipe all over the world. It was invented by a Hunanese man named Peng-Chang Kuei. He was a Chinese Nationalist Party chef and cooked for state banquets and official events,” writes the Taiwanese-born author in her latest book, Asian Green.

“When he first came up with the dish in the 1950s, its original flavours were Hunanese: hot, sour, salty and heavy. However, when he moved to New York in 1973, he had to adapt the dish to make it sweeter to suit American palates - and General Tso’s was born. The original dish used chicken, but here I’ve used cauliflower florets.

“This dish is very versatile, so you can experiment. Instead of cauliflower, you can use whatever you prefer: broccoli, smoked firm tofu, ready-fried tofu, meaty shiitake mushroom or seitan pieces.”

General Tso’s Cauliflower and Sweetcorn

Serves 2

Ingredients
1 small head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed, but left whole
4 whole dried Sichuan chillies
1 onion, chopped into 2.5cm pieces
340g can sweetcorn
1 large red pepper, chopped into 2.5cm pieces
1 tbsp Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
4 spring onions, trimmed and chopped into 2.5cm pieces
1 small handful of peanuts, toasted and chopped, optional
Toasted sesame seeds, to garnish
Cooked jasmine rice, to serve

For the sauce:
1 tbsp yellow bean sauce
2 tbsp tamari or low-sodium light soy sauce
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp chilli sauce
1 tsp light brown sugar
1 tsp dark soy sauce

Method
1 Blanch the cauliflower florets in 500ml boilingwater for 30 seconds, then drain and set aside.

2 Place all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl or jug. Mix together and set aside.

3 Heat a wok over a high heat. When the wok starts to smoke, add the rapeseed oil, followed by the garlic and chillies. Fry for a few seconds, then add the onion and stir-fry for 1 minute.

4 Add the blanched cauliflower florets and stir-fry for 2 minutes until softened. Stir in the sweetcorn, red pepper and rice wine or sherry. Pour in the sauce and cook until the sauce has reduced to a thicker, slightly sticky consistency. Add the spring onions and peanuts, if using, and toss to combine.

5 Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with the sesame seeds. Serve with jasmine rice.

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