General Tso’s Chicken might not be something you regularly order from your local Chinese restaurant because it’s spicy, but by making it yourself you can get all the flavor and reduce the heat to your liking. Or jack it up higher!
I don’t have any scientific evidence to back it up, but the husband swears that I have worn him down over the years with the spicy food and he now eats spicier food than he ever could before.
I like to think I’ve elevated his palate as opposed to wearing him down, but tomato tomahto. I’m sure there are plenty of other areas in which I have worn him down, so there’s still that.
I’ve done several Chinese Takeout Fakeout recipes, because the Chinese food where I live is truly abysmal. I grew up on the west coast where going out to eat at a Chinese restaurant was a fancy dinner. The dishes themselves were much more authentic than the gloppy red sauced sweet and sour style crap that’s prevalent here.
Now this does not mean that this recipe requires a trip to the Asian market. It is Americanized a bit, but not so much that you will need to order anything weird like Ah-So sauce from Amazon, although I admit I’m dying to. I still haven’t gotten char sui (Chinese Barbequed Pork) exactly the way I remember it and I’m afraid that jar of red dye number two and high fructose corn syrup might be the secret ingredient I’m missing. Oh the humanity!
If you want truly authentic, delicious and beautiful Asian recipes, you must visit my friend Char of Wok and Skillet. Her recipes are the real deal and she’s coming out with a FANTASTIC cookbook (a real hold-in-your-hands cookbook!) chock full of info on equipment, techniques and ingredients. I will definitely let you know when it hits the stands. Yes, in actual book stores!
So here’s my slightly less than authentic recipe for General Tso’s Chicken. It’s still better than takeout and clocking in at under 20 minutes, it’s faster too!
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- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut bite size about ¾” pieces
- ⅓ cup cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons high heat oil like safflower or peanut oil, divided
- 2-4 whole dried chile de arbol
- ¼ cup light or dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- ½- 1 tablespoon Sriracha
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12” nonstick skillet or sauté pan until almost smoking.
- Meanwhile, in a large Ziplock bag toss chicken with cornstarch, salt and pepper.
- When oil is hot, add half of the chicken carefully to the pan and cook, turning occasionally, until most sides are golden brown, about five minutes.
- While chicken cooks combine sauce ingredients.
- Transfer chicken to plate and wipe out pan if needed. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and add chiles and remaining chicken. Cook until chicken is golden brown about five minutes.
- Return the rest of the chicken to the pan and add the sauce. Stir until heated through and slightly thickened about 2 minutes. If sauce is too thick add a tablespoon or two of water.