Dear SOS: The Hunan Garden in Lomita, Calif., serves a chicken dish called General Tso's Chicken that I would love to reproduce at home. Any chance?
Dear Reader: Yes. The recipe was received and tested by Donna Deane, a home economist in The Times Test Kitchen. The chicken dish was too salty. Something was missing, but what? Well, a call to the chef solved the mystery. Sugar--the touch that made all the difference--was mistakenly omitted from the recipe. A lesson to the wise.
GENERAL TSO'S CHICKEN
1 pound boneless chicken
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
10 whole dry, hot red peppers
1 teaspoon grated ginger root
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons black soy sauce
2 tablespoons regular soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon white wine
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Cut chicken into 2-inch pieces. Combine soy sauce, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 tablespoon oil, beaten egg and pepper to taste in large bowl. Add chicken pieces and toss to coat well with soy mixture. Refrigerate at least 20 minutes.
Heat wok and add 1 quart oil for deep frying. Drop chicken pieces in hot oil and fry until browned. Remove chicken pieces and drain on paper towels. Remove oil from wok and store for other use.
Reheat wok, then add 3 tablespoons fresh oil. Add and stir-fry green onions and red peppers until onion is browned. Add chicken, ginger root, garlic, black and regular soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, wine and water. Stir-fry to blend flavors, then add 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with water and sesame oil. Stir until sauce is translucent. Makes 6 servings.
Dear SOS: In the late '50s I had a recipe book put out by Knudsen Dairy that had a wonderful no-bake refrigerator cheesecake recipe. Its ingredients included graham cracker crust, cream cheese and sour cream. I've misplaced the book and really miss the recipe. Do you have it in your files?
Dear Mae: We have the book and we've published the recipe in the past with great success. It's a terrific no-bake cheesecake, which novices as well as veteran cooks should adore.
KNUDSEN NO-BAKE CHEESECAKE
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon vanilla
Graham Cracker Crust
1 cup whipping cream
3 cups cottage cheese
Mix gelatin, 3/4 cup sugar and salt in top of double boiler. Add egg yolks and milk. Beat until well blended. Cook over boiling water, stirring constantly, until gelatin is dissolved.
Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice, peel and vanilla. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until mixture mounds slightly when dropped from spoon.
While mixture is chilling, prepare Graham Cracker Crust, reserving 2 tablespoons crumb mixture. Press remaining crumbs into bottom of well-buttered 9-inch spring form pan.
Beat egg whites until frothy. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until stiff and glossy. Whip cream until stiff. Set both egg mixture and cream aside.
Beat cottage cheese in large bowl with electric mixer on high speed until curd breaks. Blend in thickened gelatin mixture. Fold in whipped cream, then beaten egg whites.
Turn into crumb-lined pan. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs. Refrigerate about 4 hours or until firm. Makes 1 (9-inch) cheesecake.
Graham Cracker Crust
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Work together with fingers butter, sugar, crumbs, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Dear SOS: Some years ago I clipped a chicken salad recipe from The Times but lost it. My family is clamoring for it. I think it was called kontiki chicken salad from Scandia restaurant.
Dear Lynn: You're right. It's Scandia's chicken salad with a South Seas flair.
SCANDIA CHICKEN SALAD KON-TIKI
2 cups diced cooked chicken breast
3/4 cup diced crisp celery hearts
Freshly grated coconut
1 tablespoon chutney
of (for nutri)
Shredded lettuce, optional
Combine chicken, celery, 1/2 cup coconut and chutney in bowl and mix well. Toss with Curry Dressing. Cut cantaloupes in halves, remove seeds and fill cavities with chicken mixture. Or spoon chicken salad on shredded lettuce and garnish with cantaloupe or melon slices. Another way to dress salad is to cover with dressing, arrange 3 slices of melon on top to form crown and sprinkle with coconut. Makes 4 servings.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon lime juice
Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, curry powder, lime juice, sugar and salt and pepper to taste in bowl.