General Tso’s chicken (also known as General Tao’s or Tsao’s chicken) is an iconic Chinese-American takeout of deep-fried chicken coated in a thick sweet sauce. It is practically served in all Chinese takeout restaurants here in the States but you won’t find it anywhere in China. This dish was specifically made for the Western palate.
To make General Tso’s chicken, bite-size pieces of chicken thighs are first coated with a beaten egg then lightly tossed in corn starch then deep fried. All the flavor in the chicken is added later. In a wok, minced garlic and ginger are heated to bring out their amazing aroma. In go chicken stock, sugar, hoisin sauce and sesame oil. Corn starch is added to thicken the sauce. The deep-fried chicken get a quick toss in this sweet and thick sauce and boom! General Tso’s chicken is born in less than 30 minutes.
The sweet sauce in this recipe is nothing short of amazing. However, too much of it is not so great. I love making this dish at home because I have more control of ingredients. The recipe below just makes enough sauce to coat the chicken and not so much that it drowns the chicken and make them soggy, something I find too common in Chinese takeout restaurants. Bleh.
My kids absolutely love this chicken recipe. One even proclaimed he can eat this everyday without ever getting sick of it. I highly doubt it but it melts my heart into a puddle of mush.
Here’s a helpful tip. Leftover chicken is even better the next day as the flavor soaks through. If you don’t mind losing a bit of crispiness in the chicken, double the recipe below for leftover the next day. To complete this meal, I served General Tso’s chicken with steamed rice and lightly-salted steamed broccoli. Nom.
Chinese Takeout Recipe: General Tso Chicken
- 1 lbs chicken thighs cut into bite-size chunks
- 1 egg (beaten)
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
- In a medium-size bowl, combine egg and chicken until evenly coated. Add corn starch and gently toss until evenly coated.
- In a small bowl, whisk together chicken stock, sugar, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and corn starch. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, add two inches of vegetable oil and heat to 350°F. Deep fry the chicken in batches. It should cook in about 5-10 minutes per batch. Remove each batch from the oil and drain on a wired rack or a plate lined with paper towels.
- In a wok or large skillet, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and heat on medium-high. Add garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant but not brown (30 seconds). Add marinade and let it bubble and thicken (1-2 minutes).
- Add fried chicken and toss until evenly coated. Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with sesame seeds for garnish.