General Tso’s Chicken

General Tso's ChickenWe all have our guilty pleasures, don’t we?  Even though we know it’s no good for us, we just can’t quit.  For some people, it’s a double cheeseburger from McDonald’s. (Come on, you can admit it.) For others, nuclear mac and cheese, from a box, and not the organic kind, either.  For me, it’s Chinese food.  And no, I’m not talking about actual food that someone in China might eat, or something out of a gorgeous Fuchsia Dunlop cookbook. I mean, junky, American-ized, MSG-filled Chinese food.  I know it’s not good for me.  My stomach tells me every time.  But I can’t get rid of the cravings.

Don’t think I haven’t tried to fill those cravings with make-at-home versions.  I have.  I have attempted every flippin’ version of Sesame Chicken, Mongolian Beef, and Orange Chicken the internet had to offer.  And so, so many General Tso’s Chicken recipes.  But they all, frankly, kind of sucked.  I mean, they were ok, but they weren’t the real thing.  First off, don’t even both with any recipe that has the word “crock pot” in the title.  Slow cookers have their place, but it is not, I have found, making Chinese food.  I probably should have guessed this, but I was desperate. I kind of gave up.  And then I found this recipe in Food & Wine and thought… once more, just for the heck of it.General Tso's Chicken

Finally!  Finally, I’ve been rewarded for my persistence.  This.  This is it, friends.  This is the perfect recipe for making General Tso’s Chicken at home.  Yes, you do have to do a bit of pan frying, and make a separate sauce.  But it all comes together so quickly and easily, and without any crazy ingredients, that the frying bit doesn’t phase me.  And honestly, if you have a nice wide pan with high sides, pan frying is easy peasy.  If you don’t have one, you definitely need one.  You can tell your husband/wife/mom/whoever you answer to that I said that.

Anyway: General Tso’s Chicken.  Imagine this: Juicy chunks of chicken, deeply seasoned throughout.  Encased in the  barest bit of batter, which is just enough to keep a gloriously glossy, sweet hot sauce adhering to the chicken.  The entire thing is flecked with bits of chile and a generous handful of scallions.  I know… it sounds like no Chinese food that you’ve ever ordered from a take-out joint, right?  You’re right.  It’s not like that.  It so far surpasses what you’d get from your local joint that you might as well just throw away those ratty old takeout menus.  You don’t need it anymore.  You can make this in the time it would take to have something delivered.  I guarantee you’ll love this- I’ve made it many, many times to be sure.  And what’s more… when you make it yourself, there’s not quite so much guilt- you know exactly what’s going into what you’re eating. Always a big plus.  So you can save your guilty pleasures for something more deserving…. cheese fries, anyone?General Tso's Chicken

General Tso’s Chicken
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese chile-garlic sauce (Sriracha will do just fine)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for frying
  • 2 tablespoons very finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced

In a medium bowl, combine the toasted sesame oil, egg white, 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and 1/4 cup plus of the cornstarch. Add the chicken, stirring to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the chicken broth with the chile-garlic sauce, sugar and the remaining 1/4 cup of soy sauce and the remaining 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.

In a small saucepan, heat the 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the ginger and garlic and cook over high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir the broth mixture, add it to the pan and cook until thickened and glossy, about 3 minutes. Keep the sauce warm over low heat.

In a large, deep skillet, heat 1/2 inch of oil until shimmering. Carefully add the chicken, one piece at a time, and fry over high heat, turning once or twice, until very browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. Drain the chicken on paper towels. You may have to cook the chicken in two batches. When you're done cooking the chicken, dispose of the cooking oil, then return the chicken to the pan, along with the sauce that you've been keeping warm and the scallions. Give a toss or two until everything is coated well, and serve immediately.

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  1. says

    One of our favorites to order when we go to our local Chinese Restaurant…now I’ll give this one a try at home! Thanks for sharing (pinned it!) :)

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