General Tso’s Sauce

What do you do when you can’t find an inexpensive bottle or two of General Tso’s Sauce for your supper plans?  Well, either you go without, or spend the big bucks, right?  *BEEP*  Wrong answer.  ;D  You go to the website of your favorite brand of sauce and look at the ingredients list…and then use it to approximate amounts to create your own!  Or…at least…that’s what I did last night.  It was either that or use the veggies I had already purchased to make a very mundane stir fry instead.

My only fear came when I tasted the sauce.  MAN!!…was it salty!!!  But since I had never actually tasted the purchased sauce straight out of the bottle, I really didn’t have anything to go by.  My tofu had nothing flavoring it except the coconut oil in which I sauteed it and my veggies had no salt on them.  I took the risk.  I poured it over the tofu to marinate since it was finished first.  Once the veggies finished cooking I tossed it all together.

SUCCESS!  Best tasting General Tso’s yet!  Now that I realize just how much sweetener goes into it, I think that I will have to play around to make it more savory and less sweet just for health’s sake.  But for wow factor, this is the way to go.  😀

For comparison, here is the ingredients list from Iron Chef’s General Tso’s Sauce:  Sugar, soy sauce, water, vinegar, food starch, tomato paste, fresh garlic, dried garlic, red peppers, soybean oil, dried minced onion.

I made some substitutions and added some minced ginger.  I made a triple batch of this for my crew (and the teens were circling the empty serving dishes whining wishing for more.)  That’s why the measurements sometimes seem a bit odd.  It’s tough to split 1/2 tsp. into thirds!  Just for the sake of those of you who like to make large batches as I do, I’ll put the large batch’s measurements in parentheses after each ingredient.

General Tso’s Sauce

  • 1/4 c. evaporated cane juice crystals (or sugar) (3/4 c.)
  • 1-1 1/2 tsp. honey (1/4 c.)
  • 1/4 c. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (3/4 c.)
  • 1/4 c. + 2-3 T. water (1 1/4 c.)
  • 1 T. fresh organic lemon juice (3 T. – 1 small lemon)
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch (2 T.)
  • 4 tsp. organic tomato paste (4 T.)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced (6 cloves; 4 T.)
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder (3/4 tsp.)
  • 1/8 tsp. (rounded measure) dried red pepper flakes (1/2 tsp.)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil (1 tsp.)
  • 1/4 tsp. dried minced onion (3/4 tsp.)
  • scant 1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced (scant 1 T.)

Measure 2-3 T. water, mix in the cornstarch, and set it aside.  Place all other ingredients in a saucepan (making sure the tomato paste is thoroughly “dissolved”) and heat to just boiling.  Add the cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly until it loses it slightly milky color and begins to thicken.  Remove from heat and set aside until stir fry is complete and ready for sauce.

Makes approximately 1-1 1/4 c. of sauce.

General Tso’s Broccoli and Tofu

I have fallen in love with General Tso’s sauce!  Yes, it is bottled, and no, I haven’t figured out how to make it myself.  Which may be part of why I love it so much.  It’s easier.  We all like easier, don’t we?  (Addendum ~ necessity is the mother of invention, so I eventually made my own.  See that recipe here.)

I have 2 brands of General Tso’s sauce that I’ve used and like equally as well ~ Iron Chef’s (15 oz.) and Mikee’s (20 oz.).  Iron Chef’s is probably easier to find in the International section of your grocery store.  I scored major points by finding it in a close-out store at a fabulous price!  I was hooked.  My married daughter and I bought every bottle in the store.  🙂  I kept my eye out for the next kind that might show up – and that’s when I found Mikee’s.  Watch the ingredients label on other brands, because some contain oyster something-or-other and some have corn syrup.

Note:  The picture depicts a double batch with the larger amount of broccoli.  (Remember, folks, I’m feeding two teenaged boys!)

This takes less than an hour from start of rice to completion – and some of that time I spent writing this (and the rest I typed while I ate since everybody else was gone tonight.)  To speed things up even more, you can buy raw broccoli pieces already cut up.

General Tso’s Broccoli and Tofu

  • 2 c. uncooked brown rice
  • 1 lb. water-packed tofu
  • 1 T. oil (I prefer extra virgin olive oil)
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1 onion (the size of your onion depends on how much you like onion)
  • 6-8 c. (or more!) raw broccoli (2 medium broccoli crowns are about 6 c.) – you can use some cauliflower, as well, but the broccoli makes a more attractive dish
  • 1 T. olive oil (opt.)
  • water
  • General Tso’s sauce (Iron Chef or other brand – at least 15 oz.)

First begin cooking your rice according to package instructions.  (I use about 2 T. less water per cup of rice than most packages call for and less than 1 tsp. of salt per cup of rice.  I always make extra and keep it in the refrigerator or freezer for quick use later in the week.)  If the rice finishes before everything else, just stir it, push it to the side or back of the stove, and leave the lid on until serving time.

Dice tofu into 1″x1″x1/2″ pieces (approximately).  Heat 1 T. oil in a frying pan for a brief time at medium heat.  Toss tofu in the oil until fairly evenly coated.  Zig-zag the Bragg’s across the tofu about 8 passes (each zig and each zag is one pass) across the pan.  Stir the tofu again to distribute the liquid.  Turn the heat up to medium high.  Stir/Turn occasionally until tofu is browned.  (Tofu gets heavier as it browns causing the browned side to want to stay down, so if you see a lot of little white squares of tofu staring up at you after a while, you need to flip them over individually.)

While tofu is cooking, saute the onion and oil in another frying pan or dutch oven (you may use water instead of as much oil, but watch it carefully so that it doesn’t burn, adding more water as necessary.)  Cut up broccoli into bite-sized pieces and toss in with the onion.  If the onion starts to brown, turn the heat off until you are finished cutting up the broccoli.  Drizzle in 1-2 T. more water and cover to steam, stirring often. You may need to add more water as it cooks so that they don’t burn on the bottom – but just enough to steam the veggies, not boil them.

Continue cooking the tofu until lightly browned (a lid will speed the process once the liquid has boiled off) and the broccoli until fork tender.  When the broccoli is near completion, remove the lid to allow the remaining drizzled-in water to escape.  (If left in, it will water down the sauce.  For some reason, the broccoli holds the water hidden until the sauce hits it if you don’t do this step.)  Toss together in largest pan and pour General Tso sauce over it all according to taste.  (I like plenty so that it soaks into the rice some.

Serve rice on individual plates and cover with the vegetable mixture.

Makes a medium frying pan full.  (I can’t gauge serving sizes of this, because of the magnitude of my boys’ appetites!)