Last month, we had an excess of eggplants during one of our quarantine vegetable deliveries (minimum was 1 kilogram of eggplants). The meat available during that time was Chicken thighs. So I decided to mix both in one dish and try to hack one of my favorite dishes in “Recipes”.
The chicken is usually crunchy on the outside and juicy inside. It’s coated with a dark brown sweet-savory sauce and had eggplants that were also fried so that it was a texture contrast: soft and luscious.
I guess the dish was inspired by the American dish called “General Tso’s Chicken”, but there were many variations of the dish that I found online that don’t seem to be similar to what I taste from the restaurant’s dish. So I decided to try my best and recreate this dish.
I found a hack by pepper.ph, but after reviewing it, I made a few changes on my end. For example, while I love broccoli, I really liked how the eggplant’s taste and the texture were against the crispy chicken. Also, I didn’t have hoisin at the time.
Funny story tho, I thought we still had chicken thigh fillets but found out a few minutes too late that we only had chicken thighs with bone on it! In a frenzy (and having fried the eggplants already!), I thought of canceling and cooking something else but decided to commit to it. Here’s a link on how to debone chicken thighs. But it’s really tiring, so do yourselves a favor and buy chicken thigh fillets in your local butcher shop.
Deep Frying Tip
I find that a cooling rack keeps your fried items extra crispy, and prevents them from becoming soggy. If the fried item is a bit bigger, it’s also good practice to move the item to different sides from time to time, if possible—so that one side would not be soggy.
So now onto our recipe!
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10-15 minutes
- ½ kilo chicken thigh fillet, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 egg
- Optional: ½ tsp of rice wine
- 1 cup of cornstarch
- 2-3 standard eggplants (1 ½ cups) sliced in the middle, then cut into 1-inch pieces
- Vegetable oil for deep frying (the amount would depend on how big your pot or pan for deep frying is.
For the Sauce:
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon of grated ginger
- 2 tsp minced garlic (about 3-4 cloves)
- 1 teaspoon Black Bean Garlic Sauce (this can be bought in the grocery) or 2 tablespoons Oyster Sauce, if the former is not available. (I used black bean garlic sauce)
- 1 tbsp vinegar (plain vinegar or rice wine vinegar works, as well as red wine vinegar, which was what I used)
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sugar/2 packets stevia sweetener
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tbsp water
- Marinate the chicken in the soy sauce, egg and rice wine (if you want to add that) for about 15 minutes.
- Heat the oil to be used for deep frying to about 300-350 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer for frying, the best way to check if the oil is ready is to drop a tiny pinch of cornstarch into the oil. If it sinks then floats in 1-2 seconds, and there are some bubbles, the oil is ready for deep frying.
- Deep fry the eggplants until they are light brown in color. Set aside on a cooling rack for the oil to drip, or on paper towels, to absorb the excess oil.
- Coat the chicken in cornstarch, patting the excess.
- Deep fry the chicken for 5-6 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside on a cooling rack to let the oil drip and keep the chicken extra crispy. If this isn’t available, you can put them in paper towels as well.
- In a separate saucepan, saute the garlic and the ginger in medium heat until it becomes aromatic.
- Add the black bean sauce (or oyster sauce, whichever is available, please don’t use both!), vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar/stevia/sweetener. Wait for it to boil.
- Before the sauce boils, make a slurry out of the cornstarch and 2 tbsp water.
- Once the sauce boils, add in the slurry and mix until the sauce becomes thicker. To check if the sauce is at the right consistency, coat the back of the spoon with the sauce and run your finger through it (nappe). If the sauce is not too translucent and the shape of the track stays put and no sauce overruns it, your sauce is ready. Don’t make your sauce too thick (your ladle should not feel heavier when you mix it) or else it will be hard to coat the fried items in the sauce!
- Add in the chicken and eggplant into the sauce and toss it in the fire until everything is evenly coated.
- Serve immediately—this is best eaten with steamed rice.