General Tso Goes Vegan

By the Gracious Vegan

General Tso Goes Vegan.JPG

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.  

Sauce recipe adapted from Appetite for China, and nugget recipe adapted from PETA.

Serves 4

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

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