General Tso’s Chicken is a dish that has become ubiquitous in American culture, consisting of deep-fried chicken pieces doused in a sweet and subtly spicy sauce and served alongside crunchy pieces of broccoli. After working in Chinese restaurants for so long, we’ve finally mastered it.
GENERAL TSO’S CHICKEN BACKGROUND
General Tso is rumored to have been named after Zuo Zongtang, a military leader from Hunan province during the Qing Dynasty. Many credits the dish’s creation and name to Chiang Kai Shek’s chef in Taiwan, Peng Chang Kuei. Because of its widespread adoration and widespread consternation, General Tso’s Chicken has inspired a documentary.
However, the mystery surrounding General Tso’s Chicken’s genesis is overshadowed by the fact that most restaurant versions of the dish don’t do the general’s original recipe justice. Many Chinese restaurants overdo it with egg, cornstarch, and flour filler, resulting in sugary, gloopy sauce and sponges coated in batter that lacks any crunch and may or may not contain actual poultry.
If you like chicken, give this General Tso’s Chicken a shot. No. 1 Hunan Garden in town may start to worry that you’ve disappeared.
FOR THE CHICKEN:
- 1 lb. of boneless skinless chicken thighs(450g, cut into 1-inch pieces)
- 1 tsp. of Shaoxing wine
- 1 tbsp. of water
- 1/4 tsp. of salt
- 1/4 tsp. of ground white pepper
- 1 tsp. of sesame oil
- 1 tsp. of toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp. of all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup of cornstarch
FOR THE GENERAL TSO SAUCE:
- 1/3 cup of low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 tsp. of dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. of soy sauce
- 3 1/2 tbsp. of brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. of rice wine vinegar
TO COMPLETE THE DISH:
- 3 cups of broccoli florets(about 8 ounces/225g)
- 4 cups of peanut oil (for frying, plus 1 tablespoon)
- 5-6 pcs. of dried red chili peppers
- 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
- 2 tsp. of Shaoxing wine
- 2 tbsp. of cornstarch (mixed into a slurry with 2 tablespoons water)
- Add the chicken to the bowl containing the Shaoxing wine mixture along with the water, salt, white pepper, and sesame oil. Be sure to stir until the chicken has soaked up all the liquid. Put in the all-purpose flour, cornstarch, and toasted sesame seeds next. Coat and set aside after stirring.
- A sauce can be made by combining low-sodium chicken stock, brown sugar, dark soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and regular soy sauce in a bowl or measuring cup and put aside.
- Broccoli can be blanched for anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on how tender you like it, in water that has been brought to a boil in a wok or large pot. Do so in a colander and set it aside. You can also place them in an ice bath, drain them, and set them aside if you want to preserve the environment in peak condition.
- In a deep, small pot, preheat the oil for deep-frying to a temperature of 335 degrees Fahrenheit (170 degrees Celsius). In small batches, carefully add the chicken to the oil. Before frying the chicken, check to see that it is thoroughly coated in the batter or sesame seeds. When done properly, the chicken will rise to the surface of the oil. Fry for about 5 minutes until golden brown, and then drain on a wire rack or a plate lined with paper towels.
- Use a thermometer to keep an eye on the oil temperature, as it will drop with each addition of raw chicken. Keep frying in increments for the time being. After the first frying, return the chicken to the oil and cook for another 3–5 minutes until it reaches the desired crispiness. Losing that would be a huge disappointment.
- Prepare the ingredients in a clean wok and heat them over medium heat. Combine the dried chilies with 1 tablespoon of oil. The peppers should be cooked for at most five seconds. Cooking with garlic is even better when you add some minced garlic and Shaoxing wine.
- Pour in the sauce you made earlier for General Tso’s Chicken. Stir in the cornstarch slurry while the sauce is simmering; this will cause the sauce to thicken and create a glossy finish. Toss in the chicken and broccoli to coat with the sauce. Put it on a plate and serve it with steamed rice right away!