Sweet & Salty, Hot & Sour General Tso’s Chicken
So today I felt like ordering Chinese take-out, but then hey…. why order out, when its so easy to make at home?! My favourite take-away is Kung Pao Chicken, but I wanted to try something else for a change. General Tso’s Chicken is a staple on chinese take-out menus in the States, but I should probably mention that the dish does not actually come from China – or Asia at all. (Sidenote here, there is an interestingly fun documentary on Netflix called “The Search for General Tso” – if you like documentaries, then I really recommend this one!) The person many think it was named after, Zuo Zongtang (左宗棠, 1812–1885), is a Qing Dynasty general from Hunan – but if you ask inhabitants in Changsha, the capital of Hunan, or his descendants who still live in Xiangyin, they will tell you that they have never heard of the dish.
Anyway, back to the recipe. I like to use a whole chicken, debone it, and chop it up for parts to be used in various dishes – it really is the cheapest way to get all the different cuts that you like without having to throw most of it into the freezer. There is some debate whether freezing meat negatively impacts taste or texture, and I am one of those that believes it does – so I try not to when possible. I always save the bones and freeze them so that I can make chicken stock later.
General Tso’s Chicken
- 240 ml chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 60 ml rice vinegar
- 60 ml soy sauce
- 60 ml sugar
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 6 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 whole chicken, cut into 1.5-2 cm cubes
- Peanut oil
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 5-10 dried chilis
- 2 bell peppers, sliced (optional)
- 2 carrots, sliced (optional)
- sliced spring onions for garnish, optional
3. Heat about 1.5 cm of peanut oil in a large pan so that it is very hot. Working in batches, fry chicken for about 4 minutes, or until lightly golden, flipping over halfway through cooking time. Place on paper towel-lined plate.
(If the oil pops a lot while frying, I place a piece of kitchen paper over the pan to catch the worst of it).
4. Either discard oil and wipe pan clean with a paper towel, or use a clean pan. The oil will be very hot. Proceed with caution if you need to use the same pan.
5. Add some oil to the pan. (I used the oil used to fry the chicken.) Heat over high heat and add ginger, garlic, and chilis. Stir fry for 30 seconds. Give reserved sauce a stir and pour it into the pan. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.
6. Add chicken and vegetables, and cook 2 minutes, stirring to coat the chicken in sauce.
7. Sprinkle spring onions on for garnish and serve with steamed white rice!
Recipe adapted from Spicy Southern Kitchen.