General Tso's Chicken Pot Pie

Although this may be the antithesis of my own culinary philosophy, the idea was just too indulgent to let go.  But, to do justice to this masterpiece of American-Chinese-American fusion, I felt that I really needed to commit – so most of the ingredients are premade and can be found in the freezer section!  Is this dish the epitome of the bastardization of Asian cuisine?  Perhaps.  Was it actually, shamefully delicious?  You bet.

Makes: 6 ethnically-retarded servings
Total kitchen time: 1 hour

Shopping List:

  • 1 bag frozen Mandarin Chicken (available at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 cup frozen “Organic Foursome” (carrots, peas, green beans and corn, available at Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 cups prepared sushi rice
  • 1 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 premade pie crust, thawed (available at Trader Joe’s) [Note: use 2 pie crusts if making individual pot pies]
  1. Preheat your oven to 450°F.
  2. Prepare the Mandarin Chicken according to the package directions, reserving the sauce packets.  Set aside.
  3. Thaw 1 cup of frozen vegetables, and mix together with Mandarin Chicken, sushi rice and soy sauce in a large bowl.  Add the Mandarin sauce and stir to combine.
  4. You can prepare the pot pie in either one large round casserole dish, or in 6 medium ramekins.  If using one dish, spoon in the chicken, vegetable and rice mixture and push into the dish with the back of a spoon to compress.  Top with the pie crust and crimp the edges with a fork.
    If making individual pot pies, divide the filling between 6 medium ramekins and cut the pie crusts into rounds to cover.  Poke small holes in the middle of the crusts to allow steam to escape.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until crusts are golden brown.  Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.

I’m secretly hoping that this dish sweeps the nation (well, at least the middle part) as the next big trend.  There is something delightfully Paula Dean-y about the combination, not unlike “chicken tempura with BBQ sauce”.  So, if you’ve got friends or family who prefer something semi-homemade and anti-culinary, why not pass this gem along.

Reading time: 1 min

salmon cups 2 
P.F. Chang’s ain’t got nothin on this.  Taking the lettuce wrap to the logical next level, these salmon cups are a delicious main course.  The blend of fresh, bright aromatics offset the saltiness of the salmon, and the mild crunch of the cabbage leaf cools off the spice of red chiles. 

Makes: 4 entree-sized delights of joy
Total kitchen time: 30 minutes

Shopping list:

  • 1 lb. skinless salmon fillet
  • 2 tbsp. low soduim soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. teriyaki marinade
  • 1/2 tsp. red chili oil
  • 1/4 cup green onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup water chestnuts, finely chopped (find them in a can in the Asian isle of your grocery store)
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp. peanut oil (olive oil will work if you can’t find peanut oil)
  • 1 tsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 head green cabbage, separated into whole leaves
  • 2 tbsp. Chinese barbeque sauce
  1. Pat the salmon dry.  Combine the soy sauce, teriyaki marinade and red chili oil in large ziplock bag.  Add the salmon and marinate, 5 minutes up to 4 hours.  I usually don’t have the patience for long marinating times, so I can attest that 5 minutes will still yield great results.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the green onion, garlic, ginger, water chestnuts, lime zest and sesame seeds in a small bowl and set aside.  If you want, you can coarsely chop all the fresh ingredients and pulse a few times in a food processor.  Just don’t overdo it – we still want the texture and crunch of the garlic and water chestnuts.
  3. Preheat a grill pan or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium high heat.  Add the salmon and cook 2-3 minutes, covered.  Flip the salmon cook another 2 minutes or until done.  The sugars in the marinade will start to brown and caramelize immediately.  Don’t freak out if you see [what looks like] burning.  Everything will be OK.  When the salmon is done, set it aside to rest.
  4. In the same pan (if it is clean enough), heat the peanut oil until smoking.  Add the chopped fresh ingredients and the rice wine vinegar.  Stir fry until you can start to smell the aromatics.  You want to keep everything fresh and crunchy, so don’t cook past 1 minute.  Remove the fresh ingredients into a large bowl.
  5. Break the salmon unto small pieces using your fingers and add to the fresh aromatics.  Mix everything together.
  6. Divide the salmon mixture into four servings and spoon each serving into a cabbage cup.  Top with a drizzle of Chinese barbeque sauce and roll the cabbage leaf into a burrito shape.  Chow down!

This recipe also works great as an appetizer.  Substitute endive leaves for the cabbage, or even serve the salmon mixture in spring roll wrappers.  You’ll think twice before picking up the phone to order take out again.

Reading time: 2 min