This is our go to Chinese dish when ordering take-out. So making it at home without the gobs of sugar they pour in to the restaurant version was really satisfying, and delicious! Such an amazing sauce. It would be tasty on schnitzel if you’re looking to simplify this another degree.
Ironically, almost nobody in Hunan has ever heard of General Tso’s Chicken, the most famous Hunan dish in America. Like many other North American favorites, the roots to China are cloudy at best. General Tso’s Chicken became popular in America via some enterprising Taiwanese chefs who opened Hunan restaurants in New York in the 1970s. Hunan cuisine is traditionally very spicy, full of smoky chilis and pickled vegetables. But to appeal to American diners, the chefs started deep-frying, and sweetening the sauces. They improved upon each other’s crispy chicken dishes until they got a crunchy, sweet, sour, and mildly spicy coating.
General Tso’s Chicken
Adapted from Appetite for China
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
6 dried red chilis
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
3 cups peanut oil for deep-frying
2 cups cornstarch
1 big pinch white sesame seeds, for garnish
Scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons tomato paste, mixed with 1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoon cornstarch
6 teaspoons white sugar
4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
6 tablespoons chicken stock or water
- Mix ingredients for marinade. Slice chicken into 1-inch cubes and add to marinade mixture. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Mix ingredients for the sauce. Set aside. Drip excess marinade off the chicken, and toss cubes in the 1 cup cornstarch. Shake off excess cornstarch before frying.
- Add about 2 inches of peanut oil to your wok. Heat wok until just smoking, then add the first batch of chicken cubes and deep-fry until cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the rest of the chicken.
- Drain all but 1 tablespoon of oil. Reheat wok over Medium-High heat. Add dried chilis and garlic to wok and stir-fry until chilis begin to blacken and become fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add sauce mixture and stir until thickened, about 1 minute. Return chicken to wok and stir well to coat with sauce. Transfer chicken to serving dish. Garnish with white sesame and scallions. Serve with white rice.