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General Tso’s Chicken

General Tso’s chicken is a Chinese-American classic!

There’s a good reason why General Tso’s chicken is so popular in the US and increasingly the rest of the world… It’s absolutely delicious!

The dish is the perfect combination of sweet, sour, spicy and savoury. Take one bite and you’ll be hooked.

 

General Tso's chicken

Give this Chinese-American classic a try today! You could thinly slice the spring onions (scalllions) for a neater presentation. 

What is General Tso’s Chicken?

You probably won’t find General Tso’s chicken in restaurants in China. This hugely popular sweet and sour dish originated in American Chinese restaurants. 

It isn’t clear who invented it but it was named after a the very popular Chinese military leader, Gener Tso. 

We’ll probably never know who originally created General Tso’s chicken but that’s not really important. All I know is that whenever I heat up my wok and make this chicken chicken for my family, there are never any leftovers!

We’re talking plates scraped clean here!

How the chicken is fried…

For this recipe, I have kept pretty much to the classic way the dish is prepared. The chicken is first marinated in an egg white, rice wine, soy sauce and cornflour batter. It is then dusted with cornflour and rice flour before frying.

The rice flour is not normally used. Just cornflour and/or chestnut flour are the traditional flours used. I use rice flour too which gives the chicken an even crispier exterior. You could leave the rice flour out if you want a more authentic texture. 

Soaking the chicken in the egg white batter before dusting it with the flour and deep frying gives the chicken the crispy, delicious texture it is famous for. 

If you would rather, you could opt for a lighter option such as the way the chicken is prepared and shallow fried in this Szechuan chicken recipe. The chicken would be different to what you find in General Tso’s chicken but it will still be awesome!

Which is the best chicken to use?

I use skinless chicken thighs as I prefer the flavour of the meat. You could also use chicken breast which is also a popular option. 

Make this General Tso’s chicken recipe your own…

General Tso’s is usually quite a dry dish. It’s sticky and amazing delicious.

Sometimes I double the sauce so that it is much more saucy. That isn’t authentic but equally as good if not better. 

Whatever you decide to do, be sure to taste as you go adding just the right amount of sweet, sour, savoury and spicy ingredients to your own personal preference. 

Ingredients for General Tso's chicken

Get all your ingredients together before starting. It’s much easier that way.

whisking egg yolks

Whisk the egg yolks until frothy.

Chicken marinating

Add the remaining marinade ingredients and then add the chicken. Ensure it is well coated.

Coating the marinated chicken with flour

Place the marinated chicken in the flour mixture to coat and shake off any excess flour.

Liquid sauce ingredients

Whisk all the liquid sauce ingredients together and set aside.

Frying chicken

Bring your oil up to heat in a wok and then cook the chicken in batches. Transfer cooked chicken to a rack to drain any excess oil.

Frying aromatic ingredients

Clean your wok and then fry the aromatic ingredients in about 1 tbsp of oil. Fry until fragrant and then add the prepared liquid sauce ingredients.

Simmering sauce

Bring this all to a simmer for about a minute to thicken.

General Tso's chicken

Return the fried chicken to the wok and stir well to coat. Then add the sesame seeds to finish.

If you like this General Tso’s recipe, you might like to try some of these too…

 
Szechuan Chicken
Salt and Pepper Chicken
Sesame Chicken
Sweet and Sour Chicken

Yield: 4

General Tso's Chicken

General Tso's chicken
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 700g (1 ½ lbs) chicken thighs or breasts cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes
  • Oil for deep frying
  • FOR THE MARINADE
  • 2 medium egg whites
  • 1 ½ tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp cornflour (corn starch)
  • FOR THE DRY COATING
  • 120g (1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour or rice flour (gluten free option)
  • 120g (1 cup) cornflour (corn starch)
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • FOR THE SAUCE
  • 4 tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tbsp unsalted chicken stock (preferably homemade but a stock cube will work)
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce or more light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp ketchup (I use Heinz)
  • 1 tbsp cornflour (corn starch)
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar or to taste
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed (canola) or peanut oil
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 3 tbsp thinly sliced spring onions (scallions)
  • 8 dried red Chinese or bird’s eye chillies
  • Zest of one small orange
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds to garnish
  • 3 spring onions (scallions) chopped into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces to garnish

Instructions

  1. Start by preparing the marinade. Whisk the egg whites in a mixing bowl until bubbly and then stir in the remaining marinade ingredients and whisk until smooth.
  2. Now add the chicken pieces and mix well with your hands to coat. Allow to marinate while you prepare the rest of the dish or marinate overnight, covered in the fridge for even better flavour.
  3. Now make the sauce. Whisk the rice wine or sherry, chicken stock, soy sauce, ketchup. Cornflour (corn starch) and sugar together until smooth. Taste it and decide if you want to add more sugar. Set aside.
  4. When ready to cook, heat about 750ml (3 cups) of rapeseed (canola) or peanut oil in a large wok. While the oil is heating up, mix the dry coating ingredients together in a bowl. When the oil reaches 180c (356f) you’re ready to fry!
  5. Dip the marinated chicken pieces in batches in the dry flour mixture to coat and shake off any excess flour.
  6. Cook the chicken in small batches and be sure not to cook too many at once or the oil will cool and your chicken won’t get crispy.
  7. Fry each batch for about 4 minutes or until lightly browned and crispy and set aside on a rack to drip off any excess oil. Discard the cooking oil and wipe your wok clean.
  8. Place the wok over a medium high heat until a drop of water dissolves on contact. Now add two tablespoons oil and swirl it around. Add the minced garlic, ginger, finely chopped spring onions (scallions), dried red chillies and orange zest and fry until fragrant. This should take about a minute.
  9. Stir in the prepared sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer. Continue cooking until the sauce has thickened slightly and then stir in the fried chicken.
  10. To finish, swirl in the toasted sesame oil and garnish with the chopped spring onions (scallions) and sesame seeds to serve.

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