Wednesday, July 18, 2012

General Tso's Chicken

Well, well, well, after starting my third week of work as a sales associate at Macy's I finally have time again to blog. So, what is this post about? What I ate at least 3 times since working at Macy's which is General Tso's Chicken. This goes way back to my post on Orange Chicken. These chicken dishes are Americanized chinese food that are simply addicting.

Maybe it's the crispy fried chicken. Maybe it's the sticky, salty, spicy and sweet sauce. Maybe it's just because it tastes really good. Whatever your motivation to order this dish, we can all agree that even though it's not real chinese food, it's damn good!

I've tried many General Tso's Chicken recipes and yet, I can't seem to pinpoint the one that I taste at the mall. Even though this recipe is good, it's not the same. It seems to be missing a little something something. But for now, it will definitely keep my wallet nice and fat, just the way I like it.

General Tso's Chicken
Original Recipe from "Mama's Kitchen (Hope)"

3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
2 cups green onion
sliced 8 small dried chilies, seeds removed (bird pepper or thai chilies are good)

Cornstarch slurry
1/4 cup soy sauce, low sodium preferred
 1 egg, beaten
 1 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sherry wine or 1/4 cup white wine
14 1/2 ounces chicken broth (a can)

Place sauce ingredients in a quart jar with a lid and shake to mix. If you make this ahead of time just refrigerate until needed, shaking it again when you are ready to use it. This also keeps your dirty dishes down.

Mix cornstarch slurry in a large bowl- the mixture will be strange but trust me it works. It will be VERY thick almost paste like. Add chicken pieces to coat. Using a fork remove ONE chicken piece at a time and let the excess mixture drip off. YES even though the mixture has a weird consistency it will not stick like paste and the excess will drip off. Add chicken to the hot (350 degree) oil and fry until crispy. Only cook 7 or 8 chicken pieces at a time. You do not want to lower the temp of the oil by cooking too many at a time. You can use a simple cooking or candy thermometer to judge the temp of the oil.
Drain on paper towels. Keep warm- I just put them in the oven with the oven off. Repeating until all chicken is fried.

In a separate wok or large skillet add a small amount of oil and heat to 400 degrees. Again, a candy thermometer works great. You can fry all the chicken, drain the oil to the desired amount and use the same pan if you like.

Add green onions and hot peppers and stir fry about 30 seconds.

Stir sauce mixture, and then add to pan with onions and peppers, cook until thick. If it gets too thick, add a little water. The thickness of the sauce should be similar to what you get when ordering this at a restaurant.

Add chicken to sauce in wok, and cook until all is hot and bubbly. The quicker this is done the crispier the chicken stays. 8 Serve over rice.

-Aaron John

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Benefits of Sriracha

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from Rachel who told me about a graphic that her and her design team at created that explained the benefits of Sriracha. Let's face it, Sriracha has become the "new big thing" over the last couple of years so why not learn about it?

I personally love Sriracha on the stereotypical things like pho or teriyaki. But whichever way you prefer it is A-OK. After reading the graphic, I began to put Sriracha on mostly everything. Sriracha is good and good for you. If you don't believe me, just read the graphic! :)

Eat Sriracha For Your Health
Created by:

-Aaron John

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Chocolate Mocha Cake On My 21st Birthday!

So, my last blog post was just about two weeks ago? I didn't think I would have that big of a gap in posting being that it's summer and all. But, I have been busy lately with the most important thing being getting my first job ever! You wouldn't believe how many times I applied for jobs ever since I finished high school and finally, the time when my summer does not involve taking summer classes, I get one! Worked out perfectly.

To think, the first time I actually get a job is the time I turn 21. I'm finally growing up. I think over the years, I've learned that life is too short to stress out. As long as you do your best and set your mind to something, everything should take it's place. Everything happens for a reason and when you keep that in mind, even the most stressful moments become a learning moment.

This is something I will always keep in mind moving forward whether it be in school, my job or just life in general.

So what does a 21st birthday mean? Alcohol. Well yeah, but it also means cake. Duhhhh. It's just like any other birthday but with alcohol thrown into the mix. But let's just focus on cake for now. ;)

Chocolate Mocha Cake
Recipes: Cake from Hershey's Chocolate Cake
Frosting adapted from Sweetapolita

Hershey's Chocolate cake (I blogged about it here)

4 egg whites
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but cool, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tsp instant espresso powder dissolved into 2/3 teaspoon boiling water
Pinch of salt

Prepare your favorite chocolate cake recipe using a 8 or 9 inch cake pan and allow it to cool completely. I used the Hershey's Chocolate Cake recipe I blogged about before.

In a bowl of an electric mixer, add the egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly. Heat until it until it reaches 160 degrees F, or until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

Remove from the heat and use the whisk attachment of mixer to whip the mixture until thick and glossy. Continue to whip until the bowl is no longer hot and it about at room temperature which usually takes 10 minutes. Switch over to paddle attachment and, while mixing on medium speed continuously, add softened (but cool) butter in chunks, one at a time, until incorporated, and mix until smooth. If curdles are formed, continue to mix. If too soft, chill the bowl in the refrigerator and take it back out to whip. If none of that works, you can add a few cubes of cool butter and whip a bit more. Add flavourings and salt, then mix well.

To assemble, place one of the cakes on a cardboard cake board flat side down. Spread about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of the frosting evenly over the cake. Next, add the second layer of cake with the flat side now facing up so you have a clean edge to the cake when frosted. Frost the cake completely with the remaining frosting. Decorate with chocolate sprinkles.

-Aaron John


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