Hello friends (and March)!
A couple of days ago I put up a poll on our Instagram story inquiring about what type of recipes you guys want to see from us. The questions went something like this….
- Would you prefer more Asian dishes or Southern Dishes?
- Would you prefer more pastries or savory dishes?
- Would you prefer more quick meals or in-depth meals?
Wow, the results were a ‘lil bit surprising; each question aired predominately on one side or the other, with none of them being close to being split down the middle. The results go a little like this…
- More Asian food
- Savory dishes > Sweets
- Y’all don’t like dirtying dishes or cooking for more than 30 minutes
Well, you answered and you shall receive! Funny enough, before we even concocted this poll, we were thinking about doing a month of Chinese take-out recipes engineered to fit a vegan, lectin-limited diet. While we’re no longer going to do an entire month’s worth, we’re going to do at least four Chinese-American recipes. Cooking Chinese food is fast, simple, and hey, it’s Asian food, which is everything you guys wanted!
All jokes aside, Chinese take-out has been built from the bottom-up to be a fast-paced culinary art, as it’s designed to get hungry Americans their sweet & sour chicken before they get hangry, start complaining, and leave a poor Yelp review. This style also couldn’t be better suited for Kim & I, as she grew up working in Chinese restaurants and I grew up eating far too much Chinese take-out.
General Tso’s chicken is a staple at any Chinese-American restaurant, as it’s robust, laced with a spicy kick, and sweet for a savory dish – and you know us Americans love our sugar! To my surprise, making General Tso sauce isn’t complicated one bit, in fact, it’s essentially a sweet & spicy vinegar sauce, thickened with starch.
While the Asian pantry staple rice vinegar will work here, there’s a vinegar out there that elevates this sauce to extraordinary levels, and it’s called Chinkiang vinegar. Never heard of it? Me neither, until I started researching this dish. Essentially, Chinkiang vinegar is made with malted grains, which lend it a deep, dark, and pungent flavor; think of it like a cross between Malt vinegar and Balsamic vinegar. Don’t know where to find it and are worried it costs $8.00 a bottle? Yeah, I was too, until I went to an Asian market right up the street from my house and easily found a big bottle in the vinegar section for only $3.00.
Turns out we really overestimate the cost of foods that are “exotic” to us. Go looking for the same item in an American market and well, your wallet won’t dig the results. However, if you don’t feel like searching for a “foreign” ingredient, then you probably shouldn’t be cooking Chinese food in your hom-… I mean, you can just substitute it for rice vinegar with good, but less bold, results. That’s what I going to say.
Oh, and about the chilis and lectins and stuff. The skin and seeds are the only parts that contain lectins, so if you remove those you’ll have a perfectly acceptable source of heat. We have a hot sauce on the blog that shows you how to do this. However, if you’re not concerned about consuming a small dose of lectins, then you can use store-bought chili paste for ease of preparation (which is what we did).
Also, if you’re curious about the lectins in eggplants, here’s why I feel they’re acceptable under a lectin-limited diet (excerpt taken from an earlier post):
“Botanically speaking, eggplant is part nightshade of the nightshade family – the biological family that includes peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, etc. – all of which come from the new world, which is why their lectins are potent to humans. Old world foods – such as taro – on the other hand, contain lectins that all humans have built up a resistance to, meaning they don’t pose a threat to their consumer, because the microbiome of homo sapiens has had close to 200,000 years of evolution to mitigate their effects. However, most humans have only been eating new world foods for 500 years and closer to 16,000 years for Native Americans – both of which are a short amount time evolutionarily speaking – which is why people of Italy, France, and other European countries would always remove the skin and seeds of tomatoes before putting them in their mouths.
Eggplant is different than the rest of the nightshades, because eggplant is not a new world food. Eggplant’s ancestry is traced back to China, not the Americas, with the first written evidence of Eggplant being noted in the Qímín Yàoshù – an ancient Chinese agricultural text – in 544 C.E. Albeit, the Chinese have been cultivating eggplant for thousands of years prior to this written document, which means humans have had sufficient time to build up a resistance to the lectins found in it, unlike other nightshades.”
Never the less, if you only desire to make the sauce, I’ve added a note at the bottom of the recipe on how to create just the sauce without having to cook up the eggplant!
All in all, this dish:
- Takes 30 minutes to make, start-to-finish
- Is sweet, savory, & spicy (a.k.a. the holy trinity)
- Reminiscent of Chinese take-out General Tso’s chicken
- Sugar-free, lectin-limited, vegan, and gluten-free!
If you like what your taste buds are tellin’ ya, leave behind a nice rating, share your thoughts with us in the comments, or show us your creations by tagging @noeggsorham on Instagram.
Go Forth & Devour,
Kim & Ryan
General Tso's Eggplant (vegan, gluten-free & sugar-free)
Classic Chinese take-out style General Tso sauce with fork tender eggplant.
General Tso Sauce
- 1/4 c water
- 1/4 c Chinkiang vinegar (or sub rice vinegar)
- 1/4 c tamari
- 1/4 c + 3 tbsp erythritol or xylitol
- 1 tbsp tapioca starch
- 1 tbsp lectin-free chili paste (use store-bought if not lectin-limited)
- 2 medium Chinese eggplant (about 1 lb)
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp (about 3 medium cloves) roughly chopped garlic
- 1 tsp finely minced ginger
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced on a bias
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- pinch of salt
- resistant starch white rice or cauliflower rice
- extra General Tso sauce, if desired
- Slice your eggplant into rounds about 1/2 inch thick. Then toss them with 1 tsp rice vinegar to prevent browning and cover with plastic wrap until ready to cook.
- In an airtight container, combine all of the sauce ingredients and shake vigorously to smooth out the starch. Transfer to a small pot.
- Bring sauce to a boil over medium-high heat stirring frequently. As soon as a boil is achieved, kill the heat. Set aside while preparing eggplant.
- Heat a large non-stick wok or sauté pan over high heat. Once hot, add in sesame oil followed by eggplant rounds and a large pinch of salt. Cook, tossing or stirring frequently, for about 6 minutes.
- Toss garlic and ginger into wok and continue cooking for another 3 minutes.
- To the wok, add in scallion and 1/4 c + 2 tbsp of sauce and cook for another minute. Kill the heat.
- Serve eggplant while fresh over resistant starch white rice or cauliflower rice with as much extra sauce as your heat desires.
- Leftovers will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat over medium high heat with a touch of additional sauce to moisten it up.
*If you desire to make General Tso sauce without the eggplant, then you’ll want to incorporate the sesame oil, ginger, and garlic into the sauce. To do that, heat a small pot over medium heat. Once hot, add in sesame oil, ginger, & garlic and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes to extract the flavors without letting them brown. Then add in the shaken sauce, boost the heat to high, and follow the instructions as detailed.