By the Gracious Vegan
My husband adored General Tso's Chicken when he was a regular meat-eater. (He is now vegan-at-home.) I worked very hard to come up with this plant-based version, and he likes it a lot. The sauce is key, as are the nuggets. This version is significantly healthier than the meat version, because the nuggets in a meat-centered dish are deep-fried, which leads to high calories and can create cancer-causing compounds, and chicken is a leading source of cholesterol.
Make your rice. I prefer brown rice – follow rice package directions for 4 servings.
Get your vegetable ready. I prefer broccoli but feel free to experiment. Cut the crowns into florets. You’ll add these to boiling water and cook for 4 minutes right before serving.
- Two crowns of broccoli
Make the chicken-like nuggets (or use store-bought vegan chicken nuggets or strips). This recipe makes 16 or more nuggets, plenty for 4 servings.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
In a small bowl, pour water over TVP. Cover and wait 5 minutes.
- ½ cup boiling water
- 1/2 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP)
Either pulse the chickpeas in a food processor or mash with a potato masher or pastry blender until there are no whole beans left.
- 15 oz. chickpeas, drained and rinsed
In a medium-size bowl, combine the chickpeas and rehydrated TVP with these and mix with a spoon.
- 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Dash garlic powder
- Dash thyme
- 2 teaspoons agave nectar
- 1 teaspoons soy sauce
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup water
Turn the mixture out onto a clean surface and knead for a minute or so, eliminating any excess bubbles and making sure that gluten strands (little stringy threads) form. Mold the mixture into a ball. Break off small, nugget-size portions and flatten a bit in the palm of your hand. Lay the nuggets on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, flipping after the first 10 minutes.
Make the sauce. In a small bowl, combine these. Stir until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved. Set aside.
- 3/8 cup water
- 2¼ Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1½ Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1½ Tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1½ Tablespoons sugar
- 1½ teaspoons hoisin sauce
- 1½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 1½ teaspoons cornstarch
- .5 teaspoon chili paste (or more to taste)
Bringing it all together 5-10 minutes before serving. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil and swirl to coat the base and sides. Add the dried chilis and garlic to the wok and stir-fry until just fragrant, about 20 seconds.
- 1/8 teaspoon dried red chili flakes (or more to taste)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
Pour in the sauce mixture and stir until thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the vegan chicken nuggets and and stir well to coat with sauce. Transfer the balls to a serving dish. Garnish with white sesame seeds and scallions, if desired.
- 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds, for garnish
- 3 scallions, green parts thinly sliced, for garnish
Serve with brown rice and broccoli.
Timing: 45 minutes (or more if you are making brown rice to serve it with)
Nutrition: Mostly whole-food