I doubt if General Tso Tsung-Tang knew his name would become a hallmark at Chinese restaurants and take-outs worldwide! Frankly, I doubt if he ever sampled the ever popular culinary namesake that fuses Chinese with American food.
While authentic Chinese food is great, American and Chinese culinary fusion has given birth to some of my favorite comfort foods. All that simplicity of sweet, sour, saltiness and chili balanced perfectly in the complex soy flavors.
General Tso’s Chicken does more; it plays with texture as well. Crunchy bites in a smooth silky soy based sauce. Personally, I don’t like to deep fry at home so I have pan-fried the chicken in this recipe but you can go ahead and deep fry all the same.
Oh… in case you are wondering about the peanuts and the chilies, those are completely optional. We are, well… a nutty and hot family. 😉
Out with the cutting board and the knife and chop the garlic finely.
Make a slurry from the water, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, salt and cornstarch and set it aside.
For General Tso’s Chicken I prefer thigh cuts from the chicken meat but you can use chicken breast as well. Cooking time of both will vary because if the breast meat is overcooked, you will end up with stubbornly chewy chicken pieces instead of crunchy, moist and succulent bites.
Marinade the chicken and then toss it into the dry coating mix.
Add 3 tablespoons of the oil to the wok and once its hot add the chicken pieces. Let them brown well for 2 minutes from one side and then flip them over to the other side for another 2 minutes. A very hot wok will cook and brown the coating of the chicken on the outside but leave it mildly pink on the inside which is what we want.
Later, when it is added to the sauce, the chicken will cook completely and quickly but will not be overdone and chewy.
If you prefer to deep fry the chicken for an actually ‘takeout’ experience then make sure that the dry coating on the chicken pieces is thick. For that, coat the chicken well, then lightly sprinkle with water and re-coat and so on. Once your sauce is ready, you can fry the chicken pieces to a lovely golden brown and toss in the sauce.
Let’s get that delicious General Tso’s sauce going! Fry the garlic in some oil till it is fragrant and golden.
Give the slurry a good stir to wake up the cornstarch that is probably sleeping at the bottom on the bowl by now and then add the contents to the wok while stirring. Yes, I like to use the word ‘slurry’…. I seriously cannot find a more suitable term to describe these mixtures! So slurry it is!
The sauce will begin to thicken and look very tempting. Keep your fingers out of it for now and let simmer till all the sugar takes on a sheen and the sauce is glossy.
Add the red chilies and the chicken broth. Although the broth does give a richer flavor and enhances the saltiness of the sauce, you can skip this if you don’t have some broth at hand.
General Tso’s sauce is nearly done!
Whenever you are ready to serve, add the semi cooked chicken pieces into the simmering sauce and let it cook for another 5 minutes.
If deep-frying, then the chicken will have to be freshly fried just before serving. The sauce however, can be made ahead of time. And just so you know, nothing beats the original deep-fried version when making General Tso’s chicken – save some extra miles on that treadmill of course!
Add the sesame oil just before serving; this gives the dish a lovely nutty flavor and aroma.
Gadget Guy loves to sprinkle his with some dry roasted peanuts from his Planters stash while I go for some fresh chilies to cut through that sweetness! Smokin’ SWEET baby!!!
- 1 lb/ 0.5 kg Chicken – Bite Sized Pieces
- ½ Tablespoon Dark Soy Sauce
- 1 Egg White – Whisked Foamy
- ½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
- ½ Cup Flour
- ½ Cup Cornstarch
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- For The Sauce
- Garlic – 1 Tablespoon Fine Chopped
- ¾ Cup Water
- ¼ Cup Light Soy Sauce
- 2 Tablespoon Dark Soy Sauce
- 1 Teaspoon Rice Vinegar
- ½ Cup Chicken Broth (Can be skipped)
- 2 Tablespoon Cornstarch
- 4-6 Dried Chilies (Dundicut Varity or Any Other)
- 4 Tablespoons Sugar
- ¼ Teaspoon Sesame Oil (Suree Brand Used)
- 6 Tablespoon Peanut Oil or any Vegetable Oil
- Note: If deep-frying chicken, make the sauce first so that the chicken coating is still crispy when served. You will need extra vegetable oil for deep frying.
- For the Chicken
- Whisk the egg white till foamy and add the dark soy sauce and baking powder while whisking.
- Add chicken pieces to this mixture and let sit.
- Mix together the flour, cornstarch and salt in a separate bowl and toss the chicken pieces in this till each piece had a good heavy coating.
- Heat 4 tablespoons of peanut oil in the wok.
- When the wok is hot, spread the chicken pieces evenly in the wok and let brown on high heat for no more than 2 minutes.
- Turn over the pieces for another 2 minutes when one side is golden brown.
- Once both sides are golden, remove the semi-done chicken from the wok onto a platter. Alternately, of course you can just deep dry the chicken to a lovely golden brown and its ready to go into the sauce.
- For the Sauce
- Combine the dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and cornstarch in a bowl and mix well.
- Add 2 tablespoon oil to the wok and the chopped garlic. Fry till it is light golden in color and fragrant.
- Add the cornstarch slurry while stirring continuously till the sauce starts to thicken evenly.
- Add the chicken broth and chopped red chilies. Stir on simmer till glossy.
- Add the semi cooked chicken and let it for 3-5 minutes on simmer till cooked thoroughly.
- If the chicken is deep dried, just toss it in the simmering sauce.
- Drizzle with sesame oil. Give a good stir and plate immediate.
- Top with red chilies and peanuts if you like.
- Serve with steamed white rice or fried egg noodles.