General Tso’s Chicken
Authentic General Tso’s Chicken
There are several stories concerning the origin of General Tso’s Chicken. Eileen Yin-Fei Lo states in her book The Chinese Kitchen that the dish originates from a simple Hunan chicken dish, and that the reference to the meaning is “ancestral meeting hall”.
Fuschsia Dunlop insists it was invented in 1950’s in Taiwan, by chef Peng Chang-Kuei. It has a chile-spiked sweet-and-sour sauce which has since become a takeout classic.
I am sticking with Eileen Yin-Fei Lo’s version. It is not overtly sweet and has a authentic taste that you will enjoy even if you don’t think it tastes like chef Peng Chang Kuei’s version. Serve with jasmine rice and a hot cup of Oolong tea.
4 large whole chicken thighs
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch of white pepper
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons double dark soy sauce
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
4 teaspoons white rice vinegar
4 teaspoons Shaoxing wine
1 to 2 teaspoons Red Oil, to taste
3 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoon peeled and minced ginger
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup chicken broth
¼ teaspoon cornstarch
3½ cups peanut oil
3 tablespoons cornstarch
8 small red chiles, Thai
4 to 5 white portions scallions, cut crosswise into ½ inch thick pieces (¼ cup)
Skin and bone the chicken thighs, remove any fat and membranes, and rinse well. Cut into 1 inch cubes.
In a bowl, mix together the egg, salt, white pepper, and cornstarch. Add the chicken cubes, toss to coat them well, and let rest for 15 minutes.
To make the sauce: In a small bowl, mix together all of the ingredients and reserve.
Heat a wok over high heat for 40 seconds. Add the peanut oil and heat to 350°F on a deep frying thermometer. While the oil is heating, spread the cornstarch on a sheet of waxed paper. Place the chicken cubes in the cornstarch and toss until they are well coated.
When the oil is ready, shake off the excess cornstarch form the chicken cubes, plate the cubes in a Chinese strainer, and lower them into the hot oil. Deep fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until the cubes are browned and crisp. Turn off the heat. Using the strainer, remove the chicken cubes from the oil and drain them over a bowl. Pour off all but 1½ tablespoons of the peanut oil from the wok.
Heat the wok over high heat for 20 seconds. When a wisp or smoke appears, add the chiles and stir them for 15 seconds. Add the scallions and stir fry for 30 seconds with the chilies. Stir the sauce, pour it into the wok, and stir fry for about 1½ minutes, or until the chicken cubes are evenly coated with the sauce.
Turn off the heat, transfer to a heated plate, and serve.