How to Make General Tso's Chicken

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Start to Finish: 30 minutes plus marinating time
Servings: 4
Difficulty: Intermediate


An American-Chinese classic, General Tso’s chicken is an addictive blend of fried chicken coated in a spicy, sweet, tangy sauce. Making it at home means you can have greater control over the flavoring and you can reduce the amount of batter, leading to somewhat healthier General Tso’s. This recipe is inspired by ones from Rasa Malaysia and Serious Eats.

Ingredients

  • The Chicken
    1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch size pieces
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    2 tablespoons corn starch
    1 egg white, beaten
    4 tablespoons vodka
    1 tablespoon soy sauce
    1 teaspoons salt
    2 teaspoons toasted sesame seed oil

    The Batter
    1/3 cup all-purpose white flour
    1/3 cup cornstarch
    1/3 cup rice flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon dried ginger powder
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    Water
    Vegetable oil for deep frying

    The Sauce
    1 1/2-inch knob of fresh ginger, sliced
    3 tablespoons rice vinegar
    2 tablespoons rice wine
    1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
    1 tablespoon corn starch
    3 tablespoons soy sauce
    3 tablespoons white sugar or honey
    1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
    4 to 8 large, dried red chills, cut in half
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    2/3 cup green onions, sliced lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces
    2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted

Directions

  • The Chicken

    Mix all of the chicken ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Toss to coat evenly and let it sit for a minimum of 10 minutes or upward of 8 hours. If you are storing it overnight, cover it with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge.

    Heat enough oil to deep-fry the chicken on the stove. Bring the oil up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, using a quick-read thermometer to test the temperature.

    WARNING: Do not cover the oil for deep-frying, because the condensation from the lid can lead to hot oil splattering onto your skin.

    Mix all of the batter ingredients together, except for the water. Drain the marinated chicken, using the marinade to wet the batter ingredients. Stir until a chunky batter is formed. All dry ingredients should be thoroughly mixed in. If the batter is too thick, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.

    WARNING: Do not over-mix the batter, because too much stirring can cause it to become leaden and heavy. Mix the batter just before you are ready to cook the chicken.

    Stir the chicken pieces into the batter, breaking them up into individual pieces to ensure that they are fully coated. Place a small batch of the coated chicken, drained of excess batter, into the hot oil.

    Remove the chicken using chopsticks, a slotted metal spoon or tongs when it is fully cooked, roughly 5 minutes. The batter will be crispy and light brown, and the bubbling around individual pieces will be minimal.

The Sauce and Putting It Together

  • While the chicken is cooking, heat a medium-sized saucepan over high heat, adding the sliced ginger directly to the pan. When the ginger is dry to the touch, add the vegetable oil and the garlic, and reduce the heat to medium.

    TIP: The chicken can be fried in advance, and then warmed in a 350 F oven for 15 minutes before saucing and serving. However, the chicken will not be as crispy.

    In a small bowl, combine the rice wine and the cornstarch to make a slurry. Once the garlic is light brown, after around 5 minutes, add all of the other ingredients, reserving the cornstarch slurry, green onions and sesame seeds.

    Bring to a gentle simmer over medium-high heat and cook for 10 minutes before adding the cornstarch slurry. Cook until the sauce has thickened.

    TIP: Stir the sauce regularly after the slurry has been added to ensure even thickening and no lumps.

    In a large bowl, combine the fried, drained chicken and the sauce, along with the green onions. Stir gently to coat evenly, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve immediately.

Variations

  • To make General Tso’s chicken more nutritious, pair it with stir-fried vegetables, such as sliced carrots and bok choy.

    While General Tso’s is usually served with white rice, using brown rice will add a welcome nuttiness and chew to this very rich dish.

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References

  • Photo Credit StephanieFrey/iStock/Getty Images
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